Ate de membrillo is delicious on its own, or simply paired with cheese, but made even better when you take the time to encase it in a lightly sweet and light empanada. Here's how:
Empanadas de membrillo Makes 20 empanadas
For the dough: 5 cups all purpose flour 2 cups water 1 cup lard, room temperature plus 1 tablespoon 1 cup sugar 2 tablespoons dry active yeast 1 teaspoon sea salt
For the empanadas: 1 1/2 cups ate de membrillo 1 egg
Activate the yeast in ½ cup of warm water, adding 1 teaspoon sugar. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, or until it foams nicely and doubles in size. With a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the flour, lard, sugar, and salt. Mix at slow speed until the lard is evenly incorporated. Add the activated yeast and the remaining water, continuing to mix until the dough becomes smooth and separates from the bowl.
Lightly grease your palms and two baking sheets with the remaining tablespoon of lard. Divide the dough into 20 even portions, approximately the size of a lemon, smoothing them out as you go along. Place the portions on the sheet tray with enough room to allow the dough to double in size. Lightly spray the tops of the dough portions with cooking spray, and loosely cover with plastic crap. Place in a warm place and allow to proof until doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen, and working on a piece of parchment paper to minimize sticking, flatten the dough portion with your fingertips, pushing from the center out, forming an even flat disk. Place a tablespoon or so of ate de membrillo on one half of the empanada, leaving enough clear space on the edge to seal the empanada. Fold in half, which is easily done by using the parchment paper itself to lift and fold in half, making sure to match edges evenly. Lightly press together to seal, being careful to not press too hard. Get fancy with some folds or not. I prefer to keep it simple.
Place the empanadas on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Whisk the egg, and with a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops. Bake at 350°F until the empanadas are golden brown, approximately 20 minutes.
The empanadas are best eaten still slightly warm. If ate de membrillo is not available, any other low moisture jam can be substituted.
Minerva Orduño Rincón dreams of a day when Mexican cuisine begins to get the respect it rightfully deserves, a goal she trying to help along with Muñeca Mexicana handcrafted food. Until then, you can find her at a kitchen near you.