Empanada Gallega

Daring Bakers
September 2012

Hi! My name is Patri from Asi Son Las Cosas, a DBer since 2009 (gee, how time flies!). When Lisa asked me to host this challenge, I made up my mind really quickly, because it is something I like to make, very versatile, and which would be a bit challenging when managing different flours. But first, let me tell you a little story…

My grandparents lived in a country house that my great-grandfather built a hundred years ago. It is in the northwest of Spain, right on top of Portugal, in the region called Galicia. Back in the 70s, the kitchen was the place of gathering, talking, reading… and there was always something cooking on the iron stove, be it a pot of caldo (a hearty soup), or a stew, or a cake in the oven.

Download printable file HERE

When I think back to those days, I can smell the sweetness of burnt wood or coal, the almost “chocolate” scent that rose up to your nostrils when you opened the door, the warmth of the air when coming in from a cool, windy and wet August morning…

When I was six, I loved adding wood to the kitchen, and seeing how the wood disappeared into a yellow-white flare. I also liked emptying the cinders from the deposit, sometimes making a mess of it, of course. I remember filling a pot with water to put in the stove after the cooking was finished and the fire went down, that warm water was used for washing the dishes or for cleaning up.

In that kitchen I used to step on my great-grandmother’s toes when I wanted to give her a kiss, because I was a bit clumsy… There, my uncle Pepe taught me to fry eggs and potatoes. And that’s where I learned to make empanada from my grandma Carmen, God bless her.

Empanada is the kind of food that makes one go back to childhood. A bread-like dough that surrounds a vegetable frittata with anything you can imagine, from sardines to beef. Or filled with sugar, butter and fruit. Warm or cold, it was simple, pretty, and delicious. I hope you will find it so too!

Recipe Source:

The basic recipe I´ll be using is the one that my grandma used. However, I’m also including two more recipes:

Blog-checking lines:

Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family’s favorite recipes for Empanadas! We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our Empanadas as creatively as we wished!

Posting Date:

September 27, 2012


As with all leavened doughs, rising times are approximate and depend on temperature. The warmer the temperature, the shorter the rise. You do not want to over-rise the dough or it will become too sour. But you don’t want the rise to be too short or you will not get a spongy bread.

Empanada is usually an appetizer or first course, but it is filling, so you could make it for lunch or light dinner served with a side salad.

Mandatory Items:

You must make an empanada using one of the given dough recipes. You have complete freedom for the filling, though I’m providing some ideas you can use or build from.

Variations allowed:

Get creative! Use any shape, decoration or filling you want. I have never tried using other flours than wheat and corn, but if you have gluten allergies or intolerance you may try other flours that are used for gluten free bread. Adjust liquids accordingly.

Preparation time:

  • Making the dough: about 15 minutes (includes measuring the ingredients) + 50 minutes rise (will depend on ambient temperature)
  • Making the frittata: about 5-10 minutes for cutting the vegetables, 20 minutes for cooking + at least 30 min cooling time (I usually cut the vegetables and start frying them before mixing the dough, that way it has plenty of time to cool down while the dough rises – bear in mind ambient temperature)
  • Getting the empanada together: about 15 minutes (time enough to warm the oven too)
  • Cooking the empanada: 40 – 50 minutes (may need more depending on filling, please read carefully).

Equipment required:

  • Dough
    • Big bowl
    • Small bowl
    • Wooden spoon
    • Your hands or a stand mixer with dough hook
    • Rolling pin
    • Cookie sheet or oven tray
    • Pastry brush
    • Wax paper (optional)
  • Filling
    • Several sized bowls or plates (for the mis en place)
    • Pan or skillet
    • Wooden spoon

Empanada Gallega de bacalao con pasas

(my grandma’s empanada recipe with salted cod and raisins filling)

Servings: 10 – (makes a 40cmx30cm square empanada or about a 35cm diameter round empanada).
The filling may sound a bit strange at first, but that’s until you taste it  If you like salted cod, I’m pretty sure you will like it like this.

Dough Ingredients:

5-1/3 cups (1280 ml) (750 gm) bread flour
2 cups (480 ml) of lukewarm water (about 85°F/30ºC), approximately
1 satchel (1 tablespoon) (15 gm) dry yeast or (1 oz) (30 gm) fresh yeast
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (11 gm) salt
4 tablespoons (60 ml) oil (you can use oil from the pan where you have cooked the filling)
1 large egg, for egg wash

Dough Directions:

  1. Measure out all the ingredients.
  2. Shift the flour into a big bowl and make a well in the middle. Rub the yeast in with your fingers.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the water and the salt.
  4. Now, using your fingers or a wooden spoon, start adding the water and mixing it with the flour-yeast mixture. Keep on working with your fingers or spoon until you have added enough water and all the flour has been incorporated and you have a messy ball of dough.
  5. On a clean counter top, knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes
  6. You could do all the above using a stand mixer, in that case mix the ingredients with the paddle attachment until mixed and then switch to a dough hook and knead on low for about 6 minutes.
  7. Clean and oil the big bowl you used for mixing and place the kneaded dough in it. Cover it with a napkin or piece of linen and keep it in a warm, draught-free place for approximately 40 to 50 minutes.
    Before rise
    After rise
  8. Once risen, turn the dough back into a floured counter and cut it in half. Cover one half with the napkin to prevent drying.
  9. Spread the other half of the dough using a rolling pin. You can use a piece of wax paper over the counter, it will make it easier to move the dough around. Depending on the shape of your oven pan or cookie sheet, you will make a rectangle or a round.
  10. Now, the thinness of the dough will depend on your choice of filling and how much bread you like in every bite. For your first time, make it about 3mm thin (about 1/10th of an inch) and then adjust from that in the next ones you make.

Filling Ingredients

400 gm (14 oz) chopped onion (approximately 1 big onion or 2 medium-sized ones)
2 garlic cloves
¾ cup (180 ml) Olive oil
300 gm (10½ oz) salted cod, washed and cleaned (you put it in fresh water 24 hours before, change the water four times)
100 gm (3½ oz) raisins
100 gm (3½ oz) cured ham or bacon (not smoked)
A few strands of saffron

Filling Directions:

  1. Finely chop the onion and garlic.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet and add the onion and garlic, fry over medium heat until the onion is transparent (you do not want the onion to brown at all).
  3. When vegetables are cooked, turn off the heat. Add the saffron and the raisins. Cut cod and ham (or bacon) in less than bite sized pieces, and add. Stir everything together.
  4. Add salt as needed (we do this at the end because the amount of salt will depend on how salty your fish remains after the unsalting and how salty your cured ham or bacon is).
  5. Allow to cool for at least half an hour before filling the empanada.

Assembling the empanada:

  1. If you haven’t used wax paper, either lightly flour or line with wax paper your pan or tray.
  2. Cover the base and sides with the dough. Using the rolling pin or a knife, cut the extra dough.
  3. Place the filling, making sure it is cold and that all the base is covered. Using a hot filling will make the bottom layer of the empanada become soggy. Be careful to avoid adding too much oil from the filling, try to make it as “dry” as possible.
  4. Start preheating your oven to moderate 350°F/180ºC/gas mark 4.
  5. Take the other half of the dough and spread it out to the same or less thinness of the base. You can use a piece of wax paper for this too. Take into account that this “top” dough needs to be smaller around than the bottom, as it only needs to cover the filling.
  6. If not using wax paper, move carefully the top to cover the filling. If using wax paper, transfer the dough, turn upside down, cover the filling and gently peel off the wax paper.
  7. Using your fingers, join bottom and top dough, when you have gone all the way around, start pinching top and bottom together with your thumb and index finger and turning them half way in, that way you end up with a rope-like border. As a picture is worth a thousand words, please watch this video to see how it is done:
  8. When you are finished, make a 1 inch hole in the middle of the top layer. This will help hot air exit the empanada while it’s baking without breaking the cover.
  9. You can use left-over dough to decorate the empanada, using rounds, bows, lines… let your imagination flow and make it pretty!
  10. Using a fork, prick the top layer or, using scissors, make snips that go all the way through the top layer.
  11. In a small bowl, beat an egg and add a tbsp of cold water. With the pastry brush, paint the top of the empanada with the egg wash.
  12. Place the empanada in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check that the bottom part is done.

Empanada Dough

(a recipe using wheat flour from “La Empanada Gallega”)

Servings: 6


3½ cups (500 gm) all-purpose (plain) or bread flour
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
½ cup less 1 tablespoon (100 ml) of liquid fat (oil, margarine, lard)
1 satchel (1 tablespoon) (15 gm) dry yeast or (1 oz) (30 gm) fresh yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
1 teaspoon (3 gm) sweet paprika


  1. Shift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle and add all the ingredients (you should break the fresh yeast as much as possible).
  2. Mix with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients have been incorporated
  3. Turn dough onto your counter and knead for 8 minutes
  4. Make a ball and allow to rise covered with a cloth for about half an hour before using.
  5. The rest of the steps are the same as with the first recipe.

You can also use in this case the stand mixer, reduce kneading time to 5 minutes.

Corn and Wheat Empanada Dough

(from “La Empanada Gallega”)


2¾ cups (14 oz) (400 gm) corn flour (not corn starch!)
¾ cup (3½ oz) (100 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup (250 ml) warm water
2 teaspoons (10 gm) (1/3 oz) active dry yeast or 4/5 oz (25 gm) fresh yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
2/3 cup (150 gm) lard, butter or margarine


  1. Mix well flours in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the water, the fat (softened) and the yeast (if using fresh, use your hands to break it up as much as possible)
  2. Use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients and then turn the dough onto the counter and start kneading until you have a soft dough that doesn’t stick to your hands.
  3. Add more water or flour if needed.
  4. Make a ball with the dough, cover it with a cloth and allow to rise for approximately 1 hour.
  5. This dough is very difficult to spread, so you will probably have to use your hands and some patience.
  6. Go for a very thin covering, if it is too thick it will take longer to cook and it will have “some chew”, making it unpleasant to eat.
  7. Oil the pan or oven tray you will be using before spreading the dough on it.
  8. Use wax paper or even foil to cover the surface where you will be spreading the dough.
  9. Put the dough on top and powder freely with flour. Using the rolling pin, spread it as much as possible.
  10. With the help of the paper or foil, transfer the dough to your pan or tray.
  11. Fill the empanada
  12. Now you can try spreading the other half of the dough the same way as the bottom part or try using your hands, taking pieces of dough, spreading them as thin as possible using your hands and then joining them to the rest of the cover using your fingers.

  13. Using a fork, make lines in the top layer marking the portions. This will help you when serving the dough, as the top will break easily along this lines without making a mess.

This empanada dough goes very well with blue fish or seafood fillings.

Other possible fillings:

Tuna fish filling:


400 gm (14 oz) chopped onion (approximately 1 big onion or 2 medium-sized ones)
200 gm (7 oz) tomatoes (peeled and seeded)
1 small red pepper
2 garlic cloves
¾ cup (180 ml) olive oil
1 can (6.5 – 7 oz / 180 gm – 200 gm) of tuna fish in oil, drained
1 hard-boiled egg
1 teaspoon sweet paprika (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a skillet
  2. Fry the finely chopped onions, pepper and garlic until the vegetables are soft. Add then the tomatoes, chopped small, and cook until done.
  3. Turn off heat and add the tuna fish and hard boiled egg, cut into less than bite sized pieces.
  4. If adding the paprika, do so now and stir into the frittata.
  5. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.

Ground meat filling:


400 gm (14 oz) chopped onion (approximately 1 big onion or 2 medium-sized ones)
200 gm (7 oz) tomatoes (peeled and seeded)
1 small green pepper
2 garlic cloves
¾ cup (180 ml) olive oil
300 grams (2/3 pound or 10.5 ounces) minced (ground) meat
1 teaspoon sweet paprika


  1. Heat the oil in a skillet
  2. Fry the finely chopped onions, pepper and garlic until the vegetables are soft. Add then the tomatoes, chopped small, and cook until done.
  3. Add the meat and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the paprika, and stir into the frittata.
  5. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Fill the empanada en bake as indicated.

Ham and cheese filling:


10½ oz (300 gm) ham
10½ oz (300 gm) cheddar type cheese (any sandwich cheese will do)


  1. This is the simplest of fillings. You only need to layer prettily the ingredients, starting and ending with ham, to keep the melted cheese inside.

Pork loin and red pepper filling:


10½ oz (300 gm) pork loin (one piece)
1 big red pepper (capsicum) , cut into thin slices
1 small onion, cut into thin slices
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (6 gm) paprika
½ tablespoon (3 ml) dried oregano


  1. 24 hours in advance, marinate the pork loin: for this, mix the oregano, paprika and the garlic cloves (very finely chopped) with salt to taste. Rub this marinade all around the meat, put into a sealable plastic bag and keep in the fridge for 24 hours.
  2. Take the meat out of the bag and cut into thin fillets (about 0,5mm)
  3. Cover the bottom part of the empanada with the fillets
  4. Cover the fillets with the slices of onion and pepper. Sprinkle salt on top.
  5. Cover the empanada and bake in a preheated oven to moderate 350°F/180ºC/gas mark 4. As this empanada starts with all raw ingredients, it will take about 15 minutes longer to bake. Just check that the underside of the empanada is golden. If it is, it’s cooked. If it isn’t, put it in the oven again and check after 10 minutes.

Get creative!!

As you have seen, the basic filling is made with an onion and garlic frittata, adding either saffron (for white fish) or paprika (for blue fish or meat) and adding tomato and pepper if you feel like it . You can also make the empanada with raw ingredients, it will taste as good though cooking times increase. Once the outside of the empanada is cooked, whatever is inside will also be cooked! I’ve tried empanada with mussels, fresh sardines (gutted and boned), scallops, chicken, pork meat, ground meat, vegetarian (just put in there whatever you have in hand), eggs … the variations are endless!

Even sweet fillings can be made. Apples make a wonderful option, for instance, in those cases I would add some milk, cream, a little sugar or honey and even spices to the empanada dough and fill with sugar, cored and sliced apples, some raisins, some more sugar and to the oven!.

Play around with the recipe and… make it your own Smile

I made this empanada for my brother in law David’s birthday in August. I’ve also made some other empanadas for taking to picnics, these I made with thicker layers of dough, and decorated them in a more country-like way, here are some pics if you want some inspiration:

And this is what you are looking for in the “insides”…

Pork loin and red pepper filling (raw filling)

Ham and cheese (raw filling)

Ground meat (cooked filling)

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:

Empanadas are better eaten the day of baking, but will stay fresh for a day more if stored in a cool place (for instance, in a cold oven or in a cupboard) uncovered or covered with foil. You may use plastic wrap but the dough will become a little gummy. If the filling is fish or sea-food, and the weather is hot, you might stick the completely cooled left overs in the fridge, though the dough will become gummy. You can always re-heat it in a hot oven for about 5 minutes.


The Daring Kitchen and its members in no way suggest we are medical professionals and therefore are NOT responsible for any error in reporting of “alternate baking/cooking”. If you have issues with digesting gluten, then it is YOUR responsibility to research the ingredient before using it. If you have allergies, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are lactose intolerant, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. The responsibility is YOURS regardless of what health issue you’re dealing with. Please consult your physician with any questions before using an ingredient you are not familiar with. Thank you! Smile

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