Recently, I have been reminded of the preciousness of moments. There are weeks where I find myself wondering how seemingly everything in my life is going awry. It is during these weeks that I try to learn some sort of lesson from the mishaps and trials so that I will not have to be taught it so severely again. Last week looked me straight in my soppy, tired eyes and told me sternly that I need to remember to take advantage of the moments I have with the people I love.
This is a place where we talk a lot about butter and sugar, but I hope that it is also a reminder to make the small moments of your life special and memorable. Because moments, especially those with the people we love, are fleeting. That is just some real-talk - now on to the butter and sugar!
Puff pastry is an endeavor so satisfying and so rewarding it feels like winning a trophy when you pull your long-awaited puffed layers out of the oven. My mother has told me at least 692 times that working hard for something makes the achievement exponentially more rewarding. This lesson is especially applicable to baking endeavors.
We have talked about approaching that intimidating, yet certainly attainable giant which is puffed pastry. I promise, that if you can make a pie crust, you can certainly make your own puffed pastry.
In this application, our puff pastry is stuffed with crisp apples, fragrant cinnamon, and a kiss of sugar for some extra sweetness. If you picked your own apples on a cool, blustery, autumn day, you get extra points. If you bought your apples from the produce section, you still win, because we are making turnovers and there are no losers in the turnover game.
These turnovers are pretty magnificent. Their magnificence is chiefly due to their simplicity. We are not extravagant with the spices or sugar and the puff pastry gets its flavor from butter and time alone. All and in all, they are pretty perfect, because they are just turnovers and turnovers do not need to be complicated.
This recipe is a labor of love, not because it is difficult, but because it is a bit time-consuming. But, as my mother assured me, I can promise you that the prize is well worth the labor. There is an evident sense of satisfaction which you will feel when you pull these lovely pastries from your oven, a sense of satisfaction which is elevated only by sharing these with someone you care about.
Sit down with a glass of chilled milk or steaming coffee, share these turnovers, and enjoy the moment with someone you care for, because you never know when you will get the chance again.
Sweet Cinnamon & Apple Turnovers
pastry recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse
for the filling
- 3 cups apple slices, peeled
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Toss apple slices in lemon juice. In a small bowl use a fork to combine spices and brown sugar. Sprinkle the sugar and spice mixture over the apples and toss until all the apples are evenly coated. Reserve for later use.
for the glaze
- 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
In a small bowl, combine vanilla extract and heavy cream. Slowly whisk in powdered sugar until the glaze is smooth.
for the puff pastry
- 12 ounces all purpose flour
- 2 ounces cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
- 1 cup ice water
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
Sift to combine all-purpose flour, cake flour and salt. Cut 6 tablespoons of the cold butter into cubes and place the cubes in the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender or the tips of your fingers to blend until the texture of rough cornmeal, similar to pie crust.
Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the cold water. Use a spatula to gently mix into a rough dough. Do not over mix, the dough will be rough and sticky. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Place the remaining chilled butter on a sheet of plastic wrap and cover with a second sheet. Use a rolling pin to smash the butter to form a 5-inch square of butter. Chill until ready to use.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle and place the chilled sheet of butter in the center. Wrap the sides of the dough up around the butter and pinch the ends to seal. You should now have a square of butter enclosed in dough.
Roll the dough out into a 16 by 8-inch rectangle. If needed you may use the rolling pin to pound the dough and make it more pliable. Be careful not to tear the dough! Fold the rectangle 3 times like a business letter. Place the rectangle in front of you lengthwise and roll again into a 16 by 8-inch rectangle. Fold again 3 times like a business letter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
When the dough has rested, return to a floured surface and repeat the process of rolling the dough into a rectangle and making a business-letter fold. Do this twice as before and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove rested dough from the refrigerator and return to the floured surface. Repeat rolling and folding process twice as before and refrigerate for 2 hours. Now the puff pastry is ready to use.
Cook’s Note: At this point, you can wrap the dough in plastic, walk away, and save the baking for another day. I would not recommend keeping this dough past two days because it is very heavily fattened and butter likes to soak up refrigerator flavors. But do feel free to make it a day or two in advance!
Prepare apples and glaze.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a baking sheet in the freezer and allow to chill.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a teaspoon of water.
Roll the dough into a 6 x 18 rectangle. Cut lengthwise and then cross wise, forming 3x3 inch squares. Turn the squares so that the tips are facing towards you and away from you - like a diamond. Lay several apple slices across half of the square and brush the edges of the pastry with your prepared egg wash. Fold the top part of the dough over the filling and press gently to seal the edges. You should now have a triangle filled with apples. Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle liberally with turbinado sugar. Repeat with each pastry. Lay the finished pastries on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
It is important to work fairly quickly so that the pastry remains cold. If the pastry begins to warm and soften, lay the chilled baking sheet over the dough until it firms up again.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry has puff and is deep golden.
It is going to be hard, I know. But you should really allow these pastries to cool for about 10-15 minutes before you start glazing and devouring. Patience, grasshopper... When the turnovers have cooled, drizzle with prepared glaze and serve. Enjoy!