be still my texas heart.
it has been years, years!, since i have had a pumpkin empanada.
from 2007 to 2009 we lived in fort worth, just down the way from state-famous esperanza’s, joe t. garcia’s bakery. this place was brimming with all of the mexican pastries one should find in a mexican bakery, most importantly, pumpkin empanadas.
i once stopped in to buy a box full for my extended family. sniffing deeply into the mound of empanadas and choking back tears that the smell was the extent of my enjoyment of the halfmoon shaped pastries, filled with spice scented pumpkin purée. these things… really, they’re heavenly. texas monthly even featured the recipe several years back, which i’ve adapted here.
you see, i grew up eating them, always hoping my dad would bring them home from a trip to a mexican bakery instead of the flavorless pan dulce. my pops was raised in “the valley” (rio grande) in edinburg, so he knows his stuff.
it’s funny the things that warm your heart. these totally did for me.
(and for you too, i hope, pops.)

Pumpkin Empanadas
Serves: 8 amazing gluten-free empanadas
Pumpkin Filling:
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 350 grams (about 2½ cups) kumquat's gluten-free all-purpose flour or other gluten-free flour, divided
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package dry yeast*
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ cup butter, room temperature
Egg for egg wash
For Filling:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside.
For Dough:
  1. Combine 210 grams (about 1½ cups) flour, yeast, sugar, water, salt, xanthan gum, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Stir butter into mixture with a wooden spoon. Add remaining 140 grams (1 cup) flour to mixture. Stir flour into dough; knead with hands to fully incorporate flour, if needed. Form a ball with dough.
To Assemble:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Divide ball of dough into 4 parts. Divide each part into halves to yield 8 pieces. Roll a ball between two pieces of parchment into ⅛-inch thickness, about 6-7 inches in diameter. (Keep other portions of dough under a wet paper towel to keep from drying out.) Remove parchment from dough circle. Spoon almost 2 tablespoons filling onto half of dough circle, leaving about a ½-inch border around edges of circle.
  3. Fold sides together to make a half-moon. Press dough together on the edges to seal; press with a fork to seal completely. Trim edges a bit, if desired. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
  4. Brush tops of empanadas with beaten egg. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes or until tops are golden. Allow to cool before eating.
*yeast is purely for flavor, as these pastries aren't made from a risen dough. follow the method without fear that i missed a rising time. 🙂


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