Baking is like a journey, isn’t it?
You are at the wheel and you can steer it in any direction you choose. That’s the best part.
It can be a trip to your favourite place, taken in luxury and comfort or it can be an adventure, taking the back roads and visiting the unknown and the unfamiliar.
For me, this recipe was the latter. And I didn’t think I would like this adventure very much at all!
In sunny North Queenland we are enjoying a glut of gorgeous yellow pumpkins. There are pumpkin soups, pumpkin scones and pumpkin cakes. But this is not the land of pumpkin pies and empanadas. So this journey was approached with just a tad of trepidation.
Guess what? These empanadas are delicious!
Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends!
Makes 20 pastries (or more depending on the size)
Filling: can be made the day before
1kg Jap pumpkin or pumpkin of your choice
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
3 cups plain flour, plus more as needed
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup castor sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 large egg
1/2 cup warm milk
milk for brushing and raw sugar for sprinkling
Make the filling:
Cut the (unpeeled) pumpkin into large chunks, remove the seeds and fibres. Place in a microwave safe bow,l add a little water, cover loosely with plastic wrap and microwave for 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from the microwave and allow to cool a little. Or steam if that’s what you prefer.
Remove the skin.. Place the pumpkin to a pot and add the cinnamon stick and sprinkle on the brown sugar and add the salt. Set the pot over a medium heat. Stir to combine, the pumpkin will break up. Allow to come to a simmer. Stir occasionally and cook for 20-30 minutes until the the mixture is thick and the liquid has almost completely absorbed.
Remove from heat and discard the cinnamon stick. Add the vanilla, cinnamon and cloves. Puree in a food processor or with a stick blender. Let it cool completely.
Make the dough
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
With a electric mixer (or by hand if you like) beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, less than a minute. Add the sugar, cinnamon and cloves and beat well.
Add the egg and beat for a minute.On low speed mix in the flour in 3 additions alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour. Mix only until just combined.
If the dough is too dry add a little more milk or if too sticky add a little more flour. Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest 30 minutes to an hour.
Heat the oven to 190C/375F
Prepare a couple of large baking trays by lining with baking paper.
The recipe suggests dividing the dough into 20 pieces and making 5 inch circles. I thought this would be too large so I made smaller circles of about 3 1/2 inch circles.
Roll out the dough and cut circles of your choice. There is no need to flour the surface unless the dough is particularly sticky.
Place a little of the filling on each circle of dough slightly off center, then fold dough over and press edges with tines of a fork.
Transfer to baking sheet, spacing a little apart. Once all the empanadas are on the sheets, brush each one with milk and make a slit with a knife in the tops.
Bake until deep golden brown. My smaller ones took only 30 minutes but larger ones could take 40-45 minutes.
Cool a little on baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.