Vegan Chef Terry Hope Romero's Wheat Empanada Dough Recipe

Makes about a dozen 6-inch dough rounds
Time: About 35 minutes, not including the chilling time

This produces a pastry crust that can be baked or fried and filled with just about anything for delightful empanadas. Although you put it together like a pie crust, this dough is less fussy, more forgiving. The result is a tender crust that's not overly flaky or greasy and is up to the task of holding even the juiciest fillings in place. There is no denying that making empanadas-especially mixing, rolling, and cutting out the dough-can be time consuming. Make time work for you by putting together some (or even all) of the components a day in advance. I highly recommend mixing, chilling, and cutting the dough the night before, so that when it's empanada time, you can focus on making the filling and baking them.

CREAMY CORN-FILLED EMPANADAS (EMPANADAS HUMITAS)CREAMY CORN-FILLED EMPANADAS (EMPANADAS HUMITAS)Tip: Drop a few ice cubes in the water for colder water that helps keep the gluten strands in the dough shorter. Shorter gluten equals a more tender pastry. And tender pastry equals tender, more loving empanadas.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons chilled nonhydrogenated vegan shortening
2 tablespoons chilled nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
3⁄4 cup cold water, or more as needed

1. In a food processor bowl, pulse together the flour, salt, and baking powder for a few seconds. Slice the shortening and margarine into 1/2-inch chunks, add to the food processor, and pulse until everything resembles fine, sand-like crumbs. If your food processor bowl is small, prepare everything in two batches. If you prefer, you can also use a large fork or pastry cutter to blend the fats into the flour.

2. Pour the flour mixture into a large bowl and stream in the cold water while mixing the dough with your fingers. Continue adding just enough cold water that you can press the mixture together to form a soft and stretchy dough. Briefly knead a few times, divide into two balls, flatten each into a round about an inch thick, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Handle the dough minimally to keep it from getting tough. Chill it overnight or for at least 4 hours.

3. Tear about ten pieces of waxed paper to about 7 inches square and keep them near your workspace. Lightly dust a large, stable rolling surface and a rolling pin with all-purpose flour. Roll one of the dough rounds about 3/8 inch thick, stretching and pulling the dough a little if necessary. To keep the dough from getting tough, use long rolling motions, occasionally lifting the dough by the edges and turning it a little to ensure an even thickness throughout.

4. Using a 6-inch-diameter bowl pressed into the dough as a guide, take a small, sharp paring knife and run it around the edge of the bowl to cut out circles. Or, use a huge round cookie or biscuit cutter. Stack the circles of dough on top of one another, separating them with the waxed paper pieces to keep them from sticking. Chill the dough scraps, while you roll and cut the remaining un-worked dough into rounds. Gather up all the remaining dough scraps, re-roll them only one more time, and cut out as many circles as possible.

5. Chill the finished dough circles, the entire stack well wrapped in plastic wrap while preparing the filling, or store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Keep the empanada dough chilled until you're ready to fill and bake 'em.

Frozen Empanada Dough
Don't want to get acquainted with a rolling pin? Look for pre-made frozen empanada dough circles in the freezer section of your local Latin grocery. It's also a good idea to have some on hand if you know you're making a double batch of empanadas and want to be certain you'll won't run out of dough. These "wrappers" often require thawing for at least an hour before using, so plan accordingly. But first, be sure to read the ingredients very carefully! Some brands may contain animal fat. Unfortunately, the pretty orange ones (tinted with annatto) usually contain lard, but you may be able to find dough circles that are made with just vegetable shortening.

Try this recipe to make one of Terry's Empanadas

Courtesy Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.
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