Flaky Round Empanadas with Piloncillo
For the starter:
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon grated piloncillo or dark brown sugar
- 1 scant tablespoon active dry yeast 1/4 ounce, or 1 package
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
For the dough:
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (may use half vegetable shortening and half butter, or may use all vegetable shortening)
For the filling:
- 1/2 pound grated piloncillo or dark brown sugar about 1 3/4 cups
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
To prepare the starter:
- Combine the lukewarm water, 1 tablespoon piloncillo or dark brown sugar, and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together until the yeast has dissolved. Whisk in the 1/2 cup flour and combine well. Cover and place in a warm, draft-free spot until foamy and bubbling, about 1/2 hour.
To make the dough:
- Add the 1/4 cup water, the 3 cups flour, salt, and butter to the starter and place the bowl on the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Turn on low speed and as soon as the ingredients are blended together turn the speed to medium. Beat for 5 to 6 minutes, until the dough gathers around the dough hook, slaps against the bowl and is very smooth.
- Remove the dough and shape into a ball. Butter one or two baking sheets. Divide the dough into three equal pieces, then divide each of these pieces into 8 equal pieces (24 in all). Roll each of the small pieces into a ball and place on the buttered baking sheet or sheets. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft free area of your kitchen for at least an hour and up to 2 hours.
- Arrange your oven racks in the lower and upper thirds, and preheat to 375°F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out each ball into a 5-inch tortilla-like round, about 1/8-inch thick. If you want perfect rounds you can trim your rolled out rounds with a 4 1/2- to 5-inch cookie cutter.
To make the filling:
- In a bowl, combine the grated piloncillo or dark brown sugar with the 2 tablespoons flour and mix well.
- Spoon 2 tablespoons filling onto the center of twelve of the dough rounds. Cover with the other 12 rounds and press together well to seal. Go around the edges with a fork and press to seal and also to decorate. Make a small hole in the center of each coyote with the tip of a small knife, or gently cut an approximately 1/2-inch line through the top dough, taking care not to cut through to the bottom round. Place six coyotas on each parchment covered baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven for 20 to 22 minutes, switching the sheet trays front to back and upper to lower halfway through, until golden brown and filling is bubbling and bursting out of the hole or cut line on top.
- Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Once completely cooled, keep covered.