Makes enough dough for 16 large or 48 small empanadas
This is the classic, basic dough used for making baked turnovers throughout South America. The variations are endless, depending on the cook. Sometimes a teaspoon of baking powder is added to the flour, milk is used instead of water, or eggs are used. Prepared dough rounds can be found frozen in most supermarkets throughout South America and in some Latin American super- markets in the Unites States. If pressed for time, you can use frozen puff pastry for making most empanadas. A range of fillings for these pastries can be found in this chapter.
1. Hand method: In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder (if using). Add the lard and shortening and blend together with your fingers to make a coarse meal. Add the water and mix well, adding more flour or water if needed to make a soft dough. Knead in the bowl until smooth and elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
Food processor method: Put the flour, salt, and baking powder (if using), in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse for 5 seconds. Add the lard and shortening and process until the mixture looks like coarse meal, about 15 seconds. With the machine running, pour the water through the feed tube in a steady stream and process until the dough almost comes together into a ball. Remove from the bowl, knead a few times, and let rest for 30 minutes.
2. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, cut into 2 pieces, and roll each piece into a log. Cut each log into 8 rounds for large turnovers; you will have 16 rounds. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll one round at a time into a circle about 5 inches in diameter. For smaller turnovers, cut the dough into 4 pieces and roll each into a log. Cut each log into 12 rounds; you will have 48 rounds. Roll one round at a time into a thin 3-inch circle.
For the larger turnovers, place 2 heaping tablespoons of filling in the center of each circle, lightly moisten the edge of half the circle, fold it in half, and press firmly to seal the edges. Trim and crimp the edge with a fork dipped in flour, then pierce the top once with the fork to allow steam to escape during baking. For the smaller turnovers, use 1 heaping teaspoon of filling and proceed as for the larger turnovers. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. The turnovers can be frozen at this point. Place on baking sheets lined with waxed paper and freeze, uncovered, for 1 hour. Store in tightly covered containers, separating the layers with waxed paper.
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This page modified February 2007
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