Flipping for apple turnovers

As we head into fall and the light shifts to a beautiful golden slant, the air takes on a heady and romantic quality, and the leaves on the trees begin to rattle toward looseness, I think of turning over a new leaf. And as I think of that, naturally, I think of…turnovers.

To some, that may seem like a Grand Canyon-sized leap of thought. Not for a baker. Upon looking at the challenge of another month of pie, a late-summer/early fall selection would certainly involve apples, so why not take the interpretation into the form of a “hand pie,” the much-adored, but seldom home-baked apple turnover.

Those daunted by the notion that certain bakery items, such as turnovers, éclairs, cream horns and the like can only be obtained from behind bakery glass – not from one’s own oven – have failed to use their imaginations or have no faith in their abilities. They’ve left ambition to someone else, which, to me, is terribly unimpressive and downright lazy.

I triumphantly made a tray of delicious apple turnovers — better than any I’ve purchased — in less than two hours this past Labor Day. Not that being speedy is anything to brag about. I’m merely expressing that sometimes those endeavors that loom as laborious or even impossible can not only be tackled with success, but also become a joyful task one anticipates mastering regularly. Doubt must be conquered, and the only way to do that is to take action.

You can make a turnover to rival any behind a bakery case, and I will tell you how. The magic here comes in the form of already prepared frozen puff pastry dough. Now, if you are scoffing about taking such a shortcut, know this: the word among food experts – both home bakers and pastry chefs alike – is that the only reason one should make one’s own puff pastry dough is to drive oneself mad. Apparently, it is an excruciating process of layer upon layer of nearly translucent thin layers of dough and copious amounts of butter and the always-present threat of tearing said dough will try the most patient of people. The challenge does pique my interests, but since AWS frequently teeters toward insanity as it is, it might not be a suitable task since I still have some business left in the sane world. I’ll save the process for a time when I’m finished with reality and decide to finally tumble on over the edge.

I have used frozen puff pastry previously in making a delightful pinwheel type of cookie called a palmiere (more on these later). The pastry, while somewhat pricey (what price madness?), is extremely friendly to work with. I usually thaw the puff pastry overnight in the refrigerator and if, upon ready to work with it, the dough still remains a tad stiff, I leave it on the kitchen counter for about 15 minutes to limber it up a little.

I followed “Barefoot Contessa” Ina Garten’s turnover recipe, deviating slightly in the filling. Rather than dried cherries, I used dried cranberries (more fall-like), and amped up the amount of cinnamon. Her use of orange zest and juice appealed to me for the brightness they would add to the filling. However, upon tasting my filling – pre-oven – I decided to add another tablespoon of sugar, as the apples were extra tart.

To create the turnover shells, I rolled each puff pastry sheet out to a 12-inch square (OK, mine was more a rhombus), and cut it into four sections. In a process that was slightly sweaty on my part (due to my excitement and a warm day), I assembled each turnover with a smattering of apple filling, an egg wash binder, fork tines to press and seal and a coating of egg wash and sugar on top. They seemed a bit sad, sitting raw on the baking pan, a little like dormant ravioli. They hardly resembled a turnover. Still, I knew the oven could transform them, as it so often does.

In the oven, they blossomed, rising voluminously from their limp, pallid beginnings to golden brown titans of uncountable buttery layers. Their flavor, too, was big. I had been concerned that the 20-minute baking time would not cook the apples thoroughly, but I was wrong. They were tender and juicy; the filling was just sweet enough with perfect amounts of citrus and spice. The crust was buttery and flaky, yet sturdy and substantial; it did not deflate or send a shower of crumbs to my lap as store-bought turnovers often do.

Two of the turnovers were delivered to a friend laboring on Labor Day.

She is thanking me still.

Apple Turnovers
From “Barefoot Contessa,” www.foodtv.com
Makes 8 turnovers

1 teaspoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/4 pounds tart apples, such as Empire or Granny Smith (3 apples)
3 tablespoons dried cherries
3 tablespoons sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on top
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch kosher salt
1 package (17.3 ounces, 2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the orange zest and orange juice a bowl. Peel, quarter, and core the apples and then cut them in 3/4-inch dice. Immediately toss the apples with the zest and juice to prevent them from turning brown. Add the cherries, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.

Flour a board and lightly roll each sheet of puff pastry to a 12 by 12-inch square. Cut each sheet into 4 smaller squares and keep chilled until ready to use.

Brush the edges of each square with the egg wash and neatly place about 1/3 cup of the apple mixture on half of the square. Fold the pastry diagonally over the apple mixture and seal by pressing the edges with a fork. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush the top with egg wash, sprinkle with sugars, make 2 small slits, and bake for 20 minutes, until browned and puffed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Blogger’s Note: AWS used 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and dried cranberries in the fturnover filling.

Comments are closed.