Like many home cooks, in order to save precious time in the kitchen, I admit I sometimes cut corners. Although I usually make my own dough — for sweet pies, pot pies and tarts — I am guilty of buying pre-made empanada wrappers. My favorite, which are light, flaky and delicious, are made by La Saltena and are only found in the Argentine bodega a bit of a drive from home. Unfortunately, as I learned from a careful read of the label, they are also filled with Trans fats, that evil little substance that raises your risk of coronary artery disease.
Until recently, I was happily ignorant of this tidbit of knowledge, repeatedly stuffing flavorful fillings into this flaky dough and baking golden empanadas for friends and family. For some reason, I had always thought that empanada dough was harder to make than other kinds of dough. Until that is, my friend Steve, showed me the light by making it with me.
I vow to never cheat again and urge you all to recruit a friend and try for yourself! The minor effort will result in a far superior and more healthful result.
Makes 14 5 inch round cylinders
Although pre-made empanada wrappers are readily available, making your own flaky dough is actually quite simple. The extra effort will make quite a difference in the quality. Although you can use a pastry cutter and blend the dough by hand, to save time, we used a Cuisinart mixer.
8 tablespoons ice cold butter or shortening, cubed
1 ¾ cups flour spoon measured, high quality like King Arthur
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons ice cold water
Using a Cuisinart mixer, pulse the flour and salt together until mixed. Add the cubed butter or shortening and pulse until course and crumbly — about 12 times. Add ice cold water 1 tablespoon at a time (about 10 – 12), pulsing in between until mixture begins to gather. Remove from the mixer and knead with your hands for a few seconds. Wrap in plastic wrap and let the dough rest in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
Divide the dough into two batches and roll the dough on a floured surface 1/8 inch thick and use a round mold 6 inches in diameter to cut circles. Gather and reuse the dough, rolling and cutting the cylinders. Place in between layers of parchment paper to store in a freezer bag.