For many years, vanilla has given me comfort. When I used to work in Dubai, I’d bake a batch of simple, un-iced vanilla cupcakes on Sunday mornings (the week there begins on Sunday), then take them to an office that pretty much devours me the entire day and leaves me for dead. But as soon as I return home, I could still smell the vanilla that had been trapped in my kitchen since my departure that morning. That alone wipes away the stresses of my day. When I’m not baking, I light vanilla candles. I normally don’t run out of them.

It was only early this year that I decided to pick up something new to go with my usual vanilla tealights from Ikea. They were bigger, heavier votives in glass, dark chocolate in color and gave off the sweetest scent of apples that had been cloaked in cinnamon.

I have since moved back to Manila. No Ikea candles here. The closest I can get to replicating that wonderful perfume is by cranking up that oven and making some good ol’ apple pies. Remembering that I seriously dislike doing the dishes, I’m making them strictly hand-held.

So with the apples, brown sugar and cinnamon bubbling away inside the oven, as expected I caught a waft of something decidedly familiar. Oh the memories resurrecting! Cliche as it may sound, I am wrapped in some serious fuzz right now.



Apple Empanadas

Makes 8 pies
Pie Crust recipe adapted from Martha Stewart


Pie Crust

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsps sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup cold shortening
1/3 cup ice water

Pie Filling

4 medium Granny Smith apples
1 tbs lemon juice
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbs all purpose flour
1 large egg
3 tbs water


Pie Crust

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut cold butter and shortening into the flour mixture. If you don’t have a pastry cutter, use the tips of your fingers and working quickly, rub butter and shortening into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle ice water evenly over mixture, a tablespoon at a time. Using a fork, toss until the flour is evenly moistened and the dough begins to clean the sides of the bowl. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured board and with floured hands, shape dough into 2 small disks and wrap each in cling wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight.


On a lightly floured work surface, roll 1 disk of dough to 1/8 inch thick. With a biscuit cutter, cut dough into 5-inch rounds. Whisk the egg and water lightly and with a pastry brush, sweep egg wash on one side of the dough.

Peel and core apples. Dice into 1/2-inch pieces. Toss together with lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and flour in a large bowl. Spoon filling into the center of each dough round, leaving about half an inch border all around. Fold into a half-moon and using a pie crimper (or a fork), seal the edges of the pie. Poke a few holes on top with the tines of a fork for steam to escape during baking. Brush a final sweep of egg wash. This will give the pies a glossy finish. Refrigerate empanadas while the oven is preheating.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line baking sheets with foil to catch any juices. Bake empanadas until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

About Karima

A hospitality professional who has a passion for languages and the arts, Karima loves to travel to culinary destinations and acquire a deep understanding of their food philosophies. At home, she finds pleasure in cooking and mixing cocktails for her family and friends.


  1. Posted September 11, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    marvelous pairing of classic Portuguese/Spanish and all-American flavors and ideas. that would be something to look forward to the morning for!



  2. Posted September 11, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    This looks really good. Do I have to use shortening though? Can I replace it with something else?

    Vanilla calms me down too. I think there’s a recent book out called Vanilla that explains the crazy benefits of vanilla. :)

  3. Karima Danao
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Hi Sarah

    The use of shortening makes the pie crust flakier but if you don’t like it, by all means make an all-butter pate brisee. So that means 2 sticks and no shortening, if you’re following this recipe. It’ll result in a richer tasting crust. And what’s wrong with that? ;)



  4. Zachi
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    I wasn’t able to taste this when I went over! :( Tata Kim, you have any plans of making a tumblr for Silk Routes too? That way, I can promote thru my tumblr too by following you. :D

  5. Posted September 18, 2010 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Mmmm, sounds delicious