Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Baking Adventures

on April 8, 2013

Today was Empanada Day! I have never made an empanada before, and I don’t know what an empanada is supposed to be. I looked up “empanadas” on and came up with lots of different ways to do it. Some recipes made a pie crust type dough. Some made a pizza crust type dough. Some recipes were baked, others deep fried in hot oil. Most of the recipes involved some sort of shredded meat filling. So I took all that information, synthesized it, and then I did whatever the heck I wanted to do. I made a pie crust type dough following the recipe for pie dough in The New Best Recipe, aka the cookbook I use when I feel like humiliating myself. I had to prepare the dough in kind of a hurry because we were heading out the door to run some errands and I realized at the last minute that it would be too late to start the dough when we got back, because it has to chill for at least an hour in the fridge before you can use it. My excuse for what happened next is that I made it in a hurry.

100_1518The recipe calls for the usual cast of characters: flour, sugar, salt, cold shortening, cold butter, and ice water. So apparently it’s very important to use chilled shortening. I just grabbed my tub of Crisco solid from the cupboard and slapped it into the food processor. It cut into the flour pretty well. Then I diced up the butter super small like the instructions told me to do, and when I cut the butter in, something strange happened. Instead of turning crumbly and forming little pea-sized butter chunks, my dough actually started to hang together, right there in the food processor bowl! What the heck! That is not supposed to happen! So I dumped the stuff out into a bowl to fold in the 6 to 8 tablespoons of water, but the dough was already so cohesive that I only added 4 tablespoons. I was pretty miffed. And at that point I was totally convinced I had completely ruined my pie dough.

So I chilled it, and rolled out the dough as per usual, and it worked okay. The dough was pretty sticky. It actually reminded me of when I make sugar cookie cutouts. I used a smallish round dish to get circle cutouts and I heated up some leftover taco meat and rice and stuff we had in the fridge and stuffed my little pie dough rounds. I folded the rounds over to make half-moon shapes and baked them. They turned out really yummy! The crust has a really nice flavor, but the texture is totally wrong for pie crust. It was pretty crumbly and sandy; it reminded me of a shortbread cookie. Stephen was able to totally bust apart his empanada and reduce it to crumbs with only his bare hands. And forget about holding the thing and taking bites; it would fall apart if you picked it up with anything other than a wide spatula.

So, mixed reviews on the empanadas. Definitely tasty, but definitely a “pie crust” fail.


The other baking adventure I tried lately was Coco Wheats Brownies. Do you remember Coco Wheats? They are such a nostalgic food for me. I used to eat it sometimes as a kid, so when I saw a box in the store a couple years ago, I had to buy it. Then my parents thought that I loved Coco Wheats, so they sent me a box last Christmas. Now we’re moving, and I had to use up a box of Coco Wheats because you eat it for breakfast a few times then realize that you’re an adult and you don’t like to eat chocolate flavored cream of wheat for breakfast.

So I made the brownies. The larger size package used to print the recipe right on the box, but I had to look it up here. I’ll tell you one thing right now, this recipe has a lot of room for error if you follow their “tip” and soak the cereal in cold water before adding it to the recipe. I did this, and the cereal soaked up enough water that it would have taken an eternity to drain the excess water through a fine strainer. So I just stirred it up and dumped it into the batter.

My brownies turned out more like a cake, and they are pretty crumbly (what’s with the crumbly baked goods around here lately?). However. These things taste delicious. If you have a box of this stuff hanging around your kitchen and you want to use it up, make these brownies. Maybe not soaking the cereal would result in a more brownie-like texture. If you end up soaking the cereal, maybe try using a 15×10 inch pan rather than the smaller size called for in the recipe. I also had to increase the baking time to about 55 minutes. I also used butter and shortening instead of margarine. Who bakes with margarine? Anyway, this was a fun experiment that I don’t regret.



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