These Rhubarb Empanadas are baked, not fried and the lightly sweet, flakey dough is just perfect to hold the chopped rhubarb and strawberries.
You may call these hand pies or turnovers, but the origin really is the from the Latin culture and their gift to us called the empanada. With rhubarb almost out of season I thought I’d share one last dessert recipe from their recent bounty, these killer Baked Rhubarb Empanadas!
The sweet, tart and delectable fruit juice that drips through the cracks of the flakey and tender empanada dough that’s been baked to a golden brown, is perfect bite after bite. These are just beyond tender, perfect for a dessert or a snack, too.
The other day I was reading this article on ‘Columbusing’: The Art Of Discovering Something That Is Not New by Brenda Salinas. The main photo showed a Hollywood celeb spraying a crowd at a Los Angeles run for charity event with colored dye (in powdered form) and it reminded me my recent trip to India. We went to Jaipur to experience and celebrate the coming of Spring and the Holi, a Hindu Festival of Colors this past Spring. Talk about magical and fun, wow! You can read all about it here in my post New Delhi or Bust – Memories from India, the Spicy Sub-Continent. I had seen this form of celebrating before and wondered if many people knew of it’s origin and how the use of that colored dye powder got started.
I had always wanted to attend the Holi Festival after seeing a Goldie Hawn interview on 60 Minutes. People were laughing and dancing, music pumping and colored dye filled the air. A great, exciting affair. I also saw it most recently used to great effect in a Coldplay video featuring Beyonce.
Anyways, back to Brenda’s article. In it she wrote something that struck a chord in me. “Buzzfeed Food published an article asking, “Have you heard about the new kind of pie that’s all the rage lately?” It’s a hand pie, a little fold over pie that you can fit in your hand. They have flaky crusts and can be sweet or savory. You know, exactly like an empanada, a Latin American culinary staple.
On face value, it seems stupid to get worked up over an empanada. I mean, it’s just a pastry, right? But “discovering” empanadas on Pinterest and calling them “hand pies” strips empanadas of their cultural context. To all the people who grew up eating empanadas, it can feel like theft.”
It got me thinking of the recipes I have made here that I have called hand pies. There’s my Pineapple Ham and Cheese Hand Pies, but they are more like the childhood Pop Tart I had years ago, so I felt OK about naming it that.
Then there’s my Rhubarb Apple Hand Pies and Cranberry, Apple, Ginger Hand Pies and seeing as those are round and look like mini pies I’m good there too. But these are straight up empanadas. The crescent shaped, Baked Empanada dough is buttery, flakey and so tender.
The sweet empanada dough I use here is my go to from Laylita, she is the Empanada Queen in my book. These Rhubarb Baked Empanadas are baked, not fried and the flakey dough is just perfect.
While you could refrigerate these Baked Rhubarb Empanadas for a day or two if there are any leftover after initial baking, I prefer to serve these up fresh and warm from the oven.
Baked Rhubarb Empanadas
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 16 tbsp cold butter (cut into 16 pieces)
- 2 eggs
- 2-4 tbsp cold water
- 3 cups rhubarb chopped
- 1 cup strawberries diced
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp lemon zest finely grated
- 2 tbsp lemon juice fresh
- Pulse the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the butter, eggs and water until a clumpy dough forms.
- On a floured work surface, knead the dough for a few minutes.
- Form dough into 2 balls, flatten into thick discs, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Cook the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, lemon zest and juice in a sauté pan over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer and begins to breakdown and thicken, 5 minutes. The rhubarb will start to break down, try to keep it a little chunky for a more rustic filling. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
- Preheat oven 375° F. Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a thin sheet. Using a 6-inch cutter (See Note 1), cut out 8 circles per disc of dough. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with silicone mat or parchment paper.
- Place the filling on the center of each empanada disc. It's easy to overstuff and tear the dough so be careful. I used a 1/4 cup scoop.
- Wet the rim of the empanada disc with a finger dipped in water to act as glue when you fold the disc in half. This seals the edges. Press the dough with your fingers and use a fork to crimp edges together. Refrigerate the empanadas for at least 30 minutes before baking.
- Brush tops of pies with beaten egg and sprinkle with raw sugar (See Note 2). Score empanada tops, forming a small X in the center of each pie (See Note 3).
- Bake pies until crust is golden brown, 17-20 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack.
- I use a small sauce pan lid that is 6-inch in diameter. The handle makes it easy to press, twist slightly and and lift away.
- I use a sprinkling of baker's finishing sugar, it's in small crystal form and can be found in most market baking sections.
- The small "x" cut is optional, it allows steam to release so the fruit filling does not release from dough while baking.