One of the things I always have in my freezer is puff pastry. In my opinion, puff pastry is one of those products that isn’t worth making because the store-bought version is so good. Someday I will try my hand and see how it goes, especially since I’ve been watching bakers on The Great British Baking Show do it for years and think, “it can’t be that hard.” But I know it is that hard so Pepperidge Farm is my go-to. I make lots of things with puff pastry although my husband would like it if I came up with something to make every day. My favorite way to use it is for turnovers and hand pies filled with fruit. They are easy to make, puff up to a crispy cloud of buttery goodness and with just a few ingredients, and you can easily whip up a filling that is equally delicious.
I usually have apples on hand and inevitably one or two are still left hanging out and in danger of getting overripe. This filling is the perfect way to avoid wasting fruit. For these I use honey crisp apples but any firm apple would work well. I would avoid super sweet ones like Delicious apples which can be too sweet and disintegrate while cooking. And if you wanted to swap-out apple for other fruit, like peaches when they are in season, you certainly can.
My grandmother used to make these when I was a little girl and I remember waiting patiently for them to come out of the oven only to wait even longer for them to cool. The filling is like molten lava right out of the oven so resist the urge to bit right into them or suffer the consequences!
This filling is pretty much my go-to for gallates, mini-pies and hand pies. I don’t always cook the filling for a larger apple pie but for the smaller ones, I always do to make sure the filling and crust are both cooked at the same time. If you have any leftover filling, it’s great on ice cream too. Once the turnovers are filled, a simple egg wash and a sprinkle of turbinado sugar finishes them off. I love topping baked goods with turbinado sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw) since it doesn’t melt in the oven and gives the finished product a nice crunch and an elegant look.
3 Small – medium firm, apples (see note above)
1 tbs Butter
¼ cup Brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tbs Water
1 tbs Corn starch
1 tbs Fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Cinnamon
Pinch Kosher salt
1 Egg, beaten with a little water for the egg wash
¼ cup Turbinado sugar for the top of each turnover
1 box Puff pastry (each box has two packages/sheets; each sheet of pastry will make four turnovers)
Defrost the puff pastry according to the package directions. I usually leave it on the counter while I am making the filling.
Preheat the oven to 400.
Peel, core and dice the apples. (I like a small dice for these, about ¼ inch.) In a skillet, melt the butter and cook the apples on low for about 4 – 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar, 1 tbs water, cinnamon and salt and cook till combined and the apples are fork tender, about another 4 – 5 minutes. Dissolve the corn starch in the remaining two tablespoons of water and then add to the apples. Mix well and bring to a gentle boil which will thicken the filling. Once it boils, immediately remove the filling from the heat and let it sit till the dough is ready to fill. You don’t want the filling to be pipping hot when you fill the dough or the butter in your dough will start to melt and make it difficult to work with. You can put the filling in the freezer for two minutes if you want to speed up the cooling.
On a piece of parchment paper, unfold one package of pastry carefully. If it isn’t pliable, it’s not defrosted enough and you risk ripping it along the crease. I like to smooth the crease by putting another piece of parchment paper on top and lightly rolling the pastry with a rolling pin – don’t push too hard or you will kill the beautiful layers – but keeping the square shape. Cut the pastry sheet into four squares, filling each one with a spoonful of the apple filling. Brush the egg wash around the edges which will glue the sides together and fold over into a triangle. Gently seal the edges by pressing them together. For some added insurance to avoid any leakage during cooking, you can use a fork and press down on the edges (I dip my fork in a little flour to avoid it sticking to the pastry).
Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, cut a slit in the top to let the steam escape so the turnovers dont burst in the oven. Brush the top with the egg wash and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Repeat with the other pastry sheet and you should have eight beautiful turnovers!
Bake at 400, rotating the pan once, till the turnovers have puffed up, are golden brown, about 20 minutes. If there is some leakage, don’t worry, they will still taste amazing. These are best served within an hour or two when you make them in my opinion but they will keep for a day or two and reheat well. Enjoy!