3 1/2 cups (1 pound) all-purpose flour, plus a little more for rolling the dough
2 cups pureed cooked pumpkin (canned is fine here), for filling
A generous 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped piloncillo (Mexican raw sugar in cone form) or lightly packed dark brown sugar, for filling
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, preferably Mexican canela, for filling
1 cup (8 ounces) well-chilled lard OR 1 cup (8 ounces) chilled vegetable shortening OR 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter plus 1/2 cup vegetable shortening or lard
1/2 teaspoon salt, for filling
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or cream, for glaze
Make the dough using a food processor: Measure the flour, salt and sugar into a large food processor, and stir the salt and sugar into the flour. Cut the lard, shortening and/or butter into ˙1/2-inch bits and scatter them over the flour.
Cover and pulse eight times (1-second pulses), until the fat is cut into tiny bits. Uncover, sprinkle 1/8 cup of the ice water over the top, re-cover and pulse three times.
Uncover, sprinkle on another 1/8 cup of ice water, re-cover and pulse a few more times, until the mixture starts to come together. (If, after four or five pulses, the mixture doesn’t start to clump, sprinkle in a little more water and pulse again.)
Uncover, dump the dough onto a work surface, gather into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Without a food processor: Measure the flour, salt and sugar into a large bowl, stir to mix well, then distribute the fat over the top. Use your fingers or a pastry blender to cut the fat into the flour until it is in tiny bits.
Dribble in 1/8 cup of the ice water, working it in with fingertips or a fork; repeat with another 1/8 cup of ice water, stopping when the mixture can be collected into a mass (it shouldn’t feel wet, but be moist enough to hold together without crumbling).
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Make the filling. Combine all the ingredients in a small (2-quart) saucepan; cover and set over medium-low heat. Stir every few minutes until the sugar is completely melted, then uncover and simmer until very thick, about 15 minutes.
Scrape into a small bowl and cool to room temperature. If you’re planning to freeze empanadas made with pumpkin filling, they’ll turn out watery if your filling isn’t very dry.
Form the empanadas. Cut the dough in half; re-wrap half and return it to the refrigerator. On a lightly floured board, roll the remaining half into a thin rectangle 12 x 16 inches.
Cut out twelve 3˙- to 4-inch circles. Brush the edges very lightly with water, then spoon a portion of the filling in the center of each circle: about a scant tablespoon of pumpkin mixture.
Fold the dough carefully over the filling and press the edges together to seal. Put a final seal on the empanadas by pressing the two edges together with the tines of a fork.
Transfer the empanadas to an ungreased baking sheet and prick each one in two places. Cover and refrigerate.
Make empanadas from the second piece of dough, then cover and refrigerate (or, better, freeze) about an hour before baking.
(If you wish, you can gather up the scraps of dough, re-roll, cut into circles and fill. Re-rolled dough, however, rarely turns out as tender as the original.)
Bake the empanadas. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake the refrigerated or frozen empanadas for 15 minutes (20 minutes if frozen), until beginning to color, then remove and brush lightly with the egg-milk glaze.
Return to the oven about 5 minutes longer, until nicely browned. Cool a little and they’re ready to serve.