The apples and pear in my parents’ little orchard are ripe! This year’s harvest is a good one and we pick large baskets to have them pressed into juice because there are just too many to store or to give away. I always manage to rescue a few bags to bake apple pies, make applesauce or just bite into. In my variation of the classic semita from El Salvador I cut up a few juicy, firm apples in little pieces and mixed them with some fragrant thyme from the garden and grated lemon rind. Instead of making a tray bake, I formed little Latin American empanadas from the dough. You should not leave these apple-thyme empanadas in the cookie tin for too long. They will go soft and really are much nicer when they are freshly baked and have a crunchy bite.
Apple-thyme empanada cookie
For about 24 cookies
15 grams (5 tsps) instant yeast
200 grams caster sugar + extra for sprinkling
625 grams (5 cups) flour
225 grams (1 cup) soft butter
grated rind of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
2 firm apples
leaves of 2 sprigs of thyme
Put the yeast in a little bowl with 60 milliliter / 2 tablespoons lukewarm water for about 10 mins. or until bubbles rise.
Mix the yeast, the sugar, the flour, the butter, the eggs, ½ of the lemon rind and the salt with 50 milliliters / 2 scant tablespoons of lukewarm water. Knead into a soft dough. Add some more water if the dough is too crumbly.
Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour.
Peel the apples, cut into quarters and remove the core. Cut into little pieces and mix with the thyme leaves and the rest of the lemon rind.
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 375 °F. Roll out the dough to about ¼ cm / ⅛ inch. Leave to firm up in the fridge and cut out circles of about 10 cm / 4 inches ø. Bring the rest of the dough together, roll out again and cut out more circles. Continue until all the dough has been used. Place the circles in the fridge to firm up. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each circle and fold in two. Press the edges to close, place on a cookie sheet covered with baking paper, sprinkle with sugar and bake in the middle of the oven for about 20 mins. Take out of the oven, leave to cool and decorate with thyme.
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