Baked apple empanadas was one of the first recipes created for Collegiate Cook, and it’s been one of the most popular ever since (albeit a distant second to the 3-ingredient cookie dough truffles, after Buzzfeed featured ’em). However, I wasn’t always as sold on the crust. It was a crispy, whole wheat, healthy-ish dough, which is great, but if you’re a flaky, buttery pie crust aficionado, you wouldn’t be satisfied with that empanada casing.
So I set out to try something different.
After a few tests, I tried a slightly modified pie crust recipe, though truth be told, you could just as easily get away with using store-bought dough. Butter-flavored vegetable shortening really makes this pie crust stellar — it gives that rich, buttery flavor and makes the whole house smell like the very best of fall. You may be cringing at the thought of using shortening, but it’s the secret to a soft, flaky-but-not-greasy crust. (How many times can I say flaky in a post, btw?)
Sorry, just had to get it out of my system.
The filling is the same for both recipes. Cooking the apples on the stovetop softens the apples so they’re perfectly tender and the cinnamon-sugar flavor seeps all the way through. That way, you only have to bake the empanadas until the crust is lightly golden — no worrying, poking and testing to see if the apples have finally broken down. It’s a beautiful thing.
Try them both and let me know which gets your vote — is the crisp empanada shell the way to go, or do you favor soft & chewy?
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup shortening
- 5 tablespoons cold water
- 2 large apples, peeled and diced
- ½ cup sugar
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- First, make the crust: Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Use a spoonula to chop in the shortening as much as possible. Pour in the water, mixing everything until it forms a slightly sticky dough. Set aside.
- Next, the filling: Pour the chopped apples, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 7-9 minutes. Turn off the burner, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- As the oven heats, roll out the dough as thin as possible (about ¼ inch or so). Use a 3-inch cookie cutter -- or trace the mouth of a large cup with a knife to make even circles of dough. Set each circle on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Top with a teaspoon of the baked apple mixture, then fold over the dough until it forms a semi-circle.
- Use a fork to crimp the edges of each empanada so the filling doesn't ooze out. Brush the top of each empanada with the leftover juices from the filling. It creates a cinnamon-sugar glaze that gives the crust extra flavor. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the empanadas have turned lightly golden.