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Empanada dough; difficult stuffing / crimping

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
We're putting the finishing touches on a few empanada recipes we'll have this fall but the dough keeps giving us two problems. 1) It does not stick to a close when crimped along the edges; and 2) it sometimes cracks (too weak).

In the crimping, we moist the dough with egg yolk wash, and use a fork, and/or fingers.

Help is appreciated. Thanks.

post #2 of 8
Sounds like one or both of two problems:

1. Your dough is too stiff. Perhaps it was overworked? The wet and dry ingredients should be combined just until they come together, and no further. Or you didn't have enough moisture? When making empanadas and similar dishes I prefer a dough that's a bit on the softer side precisely because it will be manipulated so much.

2. You're rolling it out too thick? Thick pastry is more likely to crack, especially if it was too stiff to begin with.

Something you might try, too, is to use water instead of the egg wash, to seal the edges. That will help hydrate the dough so it melds to itself. Then use the egg wash to brush the tops and create that beautiful shiny crust.

Using a fork to seal the edges is the traditional method. Personally, I find I do a better job using a fluted pastry wheel. But that might just be me.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Empanada dough; difficult stuffing / crimping

Thanks KY for your reply.

Tried to work the dough less and less this time, but it still cracked on the shoulder of a few of the empanadas. The closing went a bit better but that's because we decided to "fold" he bottom over the top.

Could it be that we're missing an ingredient? We're using a basic 4 cups of AP baking flour, 3/4 cups of butter, 3/4 cups of milk 2 yolks, and salt. What ingredient would help keep the dough moist?

Thanks in advance for tip.

post #4 of 8
wow, my recipe is completely different from yours. i use 5 cups flour, 3 tbs salt, i cup butter, 2 eggs(whole), 1 cup ice cold water, 2 tbs white vinegar. i think your recipe looks a bit dry, also i think the milk is throwing you off. i use water to seal the empanada, egg wash to glaze the outside. hope this helps.
post #5 of 8
PRDough, I would up the oil content; possibly substituting shortenting for the butter, or a combination of the two. And I'd use whole eggs.

All in all, Natividad's recipe sounds right on. And I agree with her about the milk/water. I sometimes use milk when making a sweet pastry, but usually use water for savory ones.

For empanadas and similar stuff I prefer a cornmeal pastry, myself. It's certainly not traditional. And can be difficult to work with. But for what it's worth:

4 cups AP flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 stick plus 2 tbls cold, unsalted butter, cut in pieces
2/3 cup chilled vegetable shortening
2/3 cup ice water

Note the percentage of oil to flour; about a quarter cup more than you are using. True, the eggs yolks do make up for this a bit, but maybe not enough?

When you say some of them still cracked at the shoulders, do you mean where the pastry folds over the filling? If so, this could have as much to do with your folding technique as much as with the dough itself. Among the possibilities, you are handling the dough too roughly, actually folding it over instead of sort of rolling it, or overfilling the empanada. Given that it's only a few of them doing this, my first inclination would be the latter.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #6 of 8
One problem is not that your dough is overworked but underworked. I know that all pie crust advice is to work the dough as little as possible -- but this is to create a very flakey, pastry. Flakey equals fragile, and that goes double for cold, raw dough. Working the dough stretches the glutens in the flour making for a more flexible dough and a slightly tougher cooked pastry.

Do you rest your dough in the refrigerator before rolling?

I suggest making sure the butter (and/or other fats) is well and evenly incorporated, working the dough more than you have been when incorporating the liquid, allowing the dough to warm up a bit after it comes from the refrigerator before rolling it out, and not stinting on the bench flour when you do roll.

Another problem is that you may be rolling too thick (cracks) or too thin (tears).

Yet another porblem is that your dough is too dry. In order to make a softer, more flexible dough, you'll have to add more liquid -- whether water, milk or using whole egges instead of yolks only. Ultimately, you'll have to learn how a properly hydrated dough feels rather than depending on scales and measuring cups. But for the mean time, try adding an extra quarter cup of ice water to your recipe. If it's too sticky to roll out, you can fix it with bench flour.

By way of observation only, Natividad's dough is actually very similar to yours in terms of hydration, flour and fat contents. KY's on the other hand, uses a lot more fat. You may want to try it. The recipe itself gives the sense of a very flaky but pliable pastry -- as long as the fat is thoroughly cut in.

Hope this helps,
post #7 of 8
I put an empanada recipe online and was testing its google page rank when I found this post. (This looks like an interesting forum, so I signed up!) I hope the recipe suggestions help. Here are a few general tips for making empanadas.

As for sealing, I use a little water on the edges, press it with my fingers and then add a decorative finish with a fork or by crimping.

Small cracks near the fold can sometimes be repaired with a little water as well. If you chilled the dough, it may crack if the dough is too cold/stiff after shaping.

To give you a visual cue, the dough should be similar to pie crust. You can add more cold water a tablespoon at a time to get the right consistency.
post #8 of 8
When you moisten the dough to seal them, wet only half way around, and you should have no problem with them opening up.
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
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