It is 5:30 AM on a Saturday morning. It is a three-day weekend, you jump into you car and everyone but the driver seems to be half asleep. We headed to the highway, looking at the other cars and their passengers. You see numerous SUV’s, small and large cars heading on the same direction. You wonder where they’re all going on a peaceful Saturday morning. Are they all going away in a Holiday to the beach, or to a cabin on the mountain? (Yes, (hard to believe?) we also do that in Mexico! ) No, we all are going shopping. Yes, shopping! This is a ritual that used to happen very often during the years we lived in Monterrey, NL. You got up very early to make it to the border, before the lines of cars crossing the international bridge between Mexico and USA got so long that it would take hours just to make it through the US Customs booths. During those early morning trips somehow in my sleep-walking mode I managed to fix a large pot of coffee and pour it into a thermos that will be our companion in our 2-hour trip and something that will be in perfect harmony with the “Pumpkin Empanadas” sold by a young woman at the first toll both. You can call it a light breakfast until we made it to the American side and to the nearest Denny’s or “IHOP”. The memories of those empanadas came to my mind last weekend. Seeing pumpkins everywhere, it made me feel a craving to bake some. Deciding to make them with a yeasty dough was a personal option since that is the way I remember the dough flavor to taste as they do it in other northern states, but you can use your own pastry or pie recipe.
You can watch this you tube video where two nice ladies form the State of Sonora are baking the empanadas in the last stage where they place the empanadas under the broiler to give them that dark color.
Ingredients for 12 Empanadas
- 2 1/2 pound pumpkin seeded without skin and cut in large cubes
- 6 oz. Piloncillo or brown sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick of about one inch ( This will be removed after the pumpkin cooks)
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground anis
- 1/4 tsp. ground clove
- For the dough:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup warm milk
- 1 tsp dry yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- ½ stick of melted butter
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 egg lightly beaten to brush the empanadas
- For the pumpkin filling that renders about 3 cups of filling.
- If using canned pumpkin just make sure buy 2 cans since 1 can equals 1 1/2 cup. It may reduce a little but that will be enough for this recipe.
1. Place the pumpkin in saucepan with the piloncillo, 1/4 cup of water and the cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the pumpkin is tender. Remove the cinnamon stick.
2. At this time the piloncillo should had been dissolved, add the ground cinnamon, ground anis and clove. Keep cooking uncovered for about 20 or more minutes, stirring frequently until the mixture takes the texture of a jam. This can be done ahead of time and has to be a room temperature before forming the empanadas.
Note: In case the pumpkin shell is to hard to remove since the ones sold in Mexico are really hard to remove. Cook the pumpkin first with a 1/4 cup of water until it is tender enough to scrape from the shell. Then cook the pulp with the rest of the ingredients for the filling without the water.
3. To form the dough; Place the yeast in a small bowl add the warm milk and let it proof for about 5 minutes.
4.Meanwhile in a large bowl place the Flour, eggs, melted and cool butter, sugar and salt. Add the yeast mixture and mix to form a soft a dough. Knead in a floured surface for about 5 minutes adding more flour if needed.
5. Place the dough in an oiled bowl turning to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic and let it rest for about 1 1/2 hour in a warm place.
6. After that period of time knead the dough again for 2-3 minutes and divide in 12 small soft balls to start forming the empanadas. Cover with plastic.
7.Now to form the empanadas: With the help of your rolling pin roll out each of the dough balls in a slightly floured surface into circles of about 7 inches diameter stretching it if necessary.
8.Place about 1/4 cup of filling in center of each; fold dough to enclose filling and form a half moon. Seal edges by crimping with fork.
If you want your empanadas to look symmetric once you fold the circle place a cereal bowl upside down and press to cut any excess of dough like it shows in the picture.
9. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange empanadas on 2 greased baking sheets; brush with egg wash and dust with some sugar if you desire to do so. Let them rest for about 30-35 minutes until dough raise.
10. Bake until light brown, 15 to 18 minutes; rotate pans between racks halfway through. Baking time will vary depending of your oven.
If you want to obtain a dark golden color in your empanadas do not add sugar to the topping and place them for 2-3 minutes under the broiler of your stove after baking them, watching carefully to avoid burning them.
Update: I placed some of these empanadas in the freezer for later use. You know those times when you want to have some coffee and a sweet thing to go alone. Well, I put one in the toaster oven while my coffee was brewing and it tastes great. Really crispy with its soft filling. So now you know, they freeze well.