With the 2012 London Olympic Summer Games coming to a close and with the United States Olympic team atop of the overall/gold medal count, I'm feeling very patriotic these past 2 weeks. When we think of all-American desserts, we often think of apple pie...hence, the phrase: "As American as apple pie." Unfortunately, I actually dislike apple pie. Why? Because I find apple pie to be
way too tart for my palate. Every Thanksgiving my family would always get an apple pie among other desserts we have while we watch football and every time I look at the apple pie, it just looks soooo good. Before I help myself with a slice of what I think is a delicious apple pie, I go in with an open mind thinking that this slice will be different and will hopefully change my stance on apple pie. And every time I bite into a slice of apple pie, I'm disappointed yet again. It's almost as if I'm biting into a whole apple where the tartness is just far too overwhelming.
But it's not all doom and gloom because my experience eating apple pie certainly does not carry over to other apple pastries like apple strudels (apple strudels use thin sheets of phyllo dough), apple crisps, fritters, or cobblers. I've had some good apple pastries that were not tart, so all hope is not lost. I've turned to the apple pie's less popular cousin, the apple turnover. In my research, I've learned that apple pie normally uses granny smith apples whose defining characteristic is its tart flavor. I've come to the consensus that using golden delicious apples in the filling was the way to go since they're more sweet than tart and they tend to be softer. Personally I like a more tender apple to contrast the crunch from the puff pastry in the apple turnover. Also, it's easy to find golden delicious apples in any supermarket. If you do like the tartness from a granny smith apple, then by all means use that apple. I believe mcintosh apples are also good for pies, turnovers, and other pastries. You might even want to try using different fruits like peaches, plums, figs, pears, etc. [Update 12-16-13: I used this same recipe using pears instead of apples and it turned out just fine. The grainy and gritty texture of pears wasn't too noticeable after it cooked and softened up although I don't really mind the pear texture anyway. In general I actually prefer eating pears over apples and they worked splendidly in these turnovers.] One type of turnover which I am seriously considering is a sliced banana and Nutella (hazelnut chocolate flavor spread) turnover. If I do make it, I'll definitely blog about it and let you know how it went. Banana and Nutella have always seemed like a good combination to me.
|The many layers and the filling of an apple turnover|
I found a simple recipe online to start as my base but changed it quite a bit. If you're going to be following this recipe, there is one thing you'll have to keep in mind above all else. This tip is fundamental when making the dough for an apple pie: you have to keep your dough cold. Since you'll be working with more than 1 piece of dough to make several turnovers, always keep your dough cold. Don't be afraid to stick the pastry dough in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to cool it down. For example, if you need to roll out your dough and you find that it's getting too soft to handle, stick it in the freezer and work on your other piece of dough that's already in the refrigerator and just keep switching off so that you're continuously working on chilled dough. This is important especially when you're creating the layers for the puff pastry. You need to prevent the butter from melting. The butter in between the layers of dough will evaporate and allow the dough to puff up during the baking process eventually forming the layers in puff pastry. What you end up getting is a pastry marked by a nice, flaky, and tender texture. Supposedly authentic puff pastry has over 600 layers, but since we only have 27 layers in this recipe, this is a version of the blitz method of making puff pastry quickly. I've actually tried making these apple turnovers without having to do the layers of butter in between the dough and continually folding it over. The texture you would get resembled that of an empanada (I find the classic McDonald's apple pie to be like this). The turnover still turns out good, so the lack of the flakiness does not ruin it. These apple turnovers would rank up there with pumpkin pie as my favorite dessert for Thanksgiving.
Now rolling out the dough can be a pain and a mess at times if you don't have a proper surface to work on. On tv shows, they usually just roll out dough straight on a granite or stainless steel counter top in the kitchen. If you're like me, then you don't have granite or stainless steel counters. What helped me though was when I bought a 25 lb marble board from Sur La Table specifically made for rolling out dough. The marble helps to keep the dough cold and cleaning it is easy. All you have to do is get a damp paper towel and wipe it down to clean and remove the bits of dough remaining. It's a really good investment if you're constantly rolling out bread or pie dough. Keep in mind that it is heavy so I store it tucked away in the corner on my counter and I put a bread basket on top (where I store my bread of course) when not in use. That way it's not in the way, yet it's not a hassle to pull it out when I want to use it. This bread basket would already be placed in this spot on the counter even if I didn't have a marble board.
The filling of this apple turnover is quite perfect. You cook the diced apples, sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and cornstarch together in a pot over medium heat. The apples begin to soften, cook, and eventually release its natural juices. These juices will thicken due to the cornstarch and what you get is a syrupy apple filling. The liquid is no longer thin, soupy, or runny. It's almost as if you added apple jam and mixed it with your diced apples.
|Apple turnover with the glaze|
|Apple turnover without the glaze|
Apple Turnover Recipemakes 2 apple turnovers
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, divided: (1/4 cup, 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup ice water
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
2 medium golden delicious apples diced into half inch cubes
1 tsp lemon juice
1 beaten egg [this does not have to be doubled if doubling the recipe]
1.5 tsp water
Glaze [optional - I found this didn't add anything except for appearance]
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp water
Instructions1. In a food processor, combine flour and salt; cut in 1/4 cup butter and pulse until crumbly. Gradually add water, and pulse until texture resembles that of coarse wet sand (and manually form a ball yourself) or pulse further until a ball naturally forms. Remove from food processor and form into a thick disc. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-in. by 6-in. rectangle (put in refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes if dough is starting to get too warm). Cut 1/4 cup butter into thin slices. Starting at a short side of dough, arrange half of the butter slices over two-thirds of rectangle to within 1/2 in. of edges.
3. Fold unbuttered third of dough over middle third. Fold remaining third over the middle, forming a 6-in. by 4-in. rectangle and refrigerate (or put in freezer) for 15 mins. These 3 folds are what is called a turn.
4. Roll dough into a 12-in. by 6-in. rectangle.
5. Repeat the folding part in step 3 and then rolling it out in step 4.
6. Repeat the folding part in step 3 once again, cut dough right down the middle forming 2 3-in by 4-in rectangles, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
7. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Add apples and lemon juice; toss to coat. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring often. Remove from the heat.
8. In a small bowl, combine egg and water. Roll one of the doughs into about an 8 or 8.5-in square and put it in the refrigerator or freezer for 15 mins. Repeat this step for the other dough still in the refrigerator.
9. Spoon about 1/2 cup filling on half of each square; brush egg wash on the edges of the square and fold dough over filling forming a triangle. Press edges with a fork to crimp and seal. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with remaining egg mixture. With a sharp knife [a pairing knife works well], cut three small slits in the top of each turnover. Put dough in the freezer for 15 mins and repeat this step for the second dough square.
10. Bake at 450° for 17-22 minutes or until golden brown. Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over turnovers [I actually prefer to not add the glaze - less sugar means less calories and the glaze didn't seem to add anything other than appearance - the filling provides enough sweetness]. Serve warm.