Flaky Apple Turnovers

I feel pretty confident in my cooking and baking skills.  While there are still tons and tons of techniques and recipes I haven’t tried, I have decent success learning new methods after researching thoroughly.  For some reason though, true pastry has slightly intimidated me for some time.  Finally I decided I just couldn’t wait any longer and it was time to give it a try – after all, I finally have counter space!  These apple turnovers were a great choice for my first try at pastry and most definitely exceeded my expectations, which were already pretty high.  I mean, I made my own puff pastry – how cool is that?!  Granted this is actually a “quick” version (I still plan to try classic puff pastry soon), but I was so pleased with how these turned out.  The pastry is flaky and buttery, and the apple filling delicious and present in every bite.  I had these every morning for breakfast until they were gone and let me tell you, that was a sad, sad morning.  Cereal cannot even begin to compare.

The method for making the apple filling is genius.  The apple is shredded and then mixed with sugar and left to sit briefly to help draw out excess liquid.  This ensures that the pastry stays flaky and doesn’t get soggy from the juices of the apple.  The shredding also helps to evenly distribute the filling throughout the turnover so that it is present in every bite.

Because I don’t want this process to seem too intimidating, this is a picture-heavy post to help guide you through, step by step.  It’s really not so bad – let’s make turnovers!

Flaky Apple Turnovers
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For the puff pastry:
3 cups (15 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ tbsp. sugar
1½ tsp. salt
1½ cups (24 tbsp.) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
½ cup plus 1 tbsp. ice water
2 tsp. lemon juice

For the filling:
4 large Granny Smith apples (about 2 lbs.)
1½ cups sugar
3 tsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. salt

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

To make the puff pastry, combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse to combine.  Add in about a quarter of the butter cubes and process until the butter is in dime-sized pieces, about four 1-second pulses.  Add the remaining butter and process to coat the cubes with flour, about two 1-second pulses.  Transfer the mixture to a medium size mixing bowl.

Combine the ice water and lemon juice in a small bowl.  Add half of the liquid to the flour and butter mixture, and toss just until combined.  Keep adding the liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough will clump together with your hand.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface.  The dough will be dry and shaggy at this point.

To fraisage the dough, brace the heel of one hand against the work surface and dragging small portions of the dough forward in short, brisk strokes.

Let’s see that one more time, shall we?

Gather the dough together into a rough mound, using a bench scraper if necessary (I just used my hands.)

Repeat the fraisage a second time.

Press the dough into an 8- by 4-inch rectangle, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured large piece of parchment paper and roll into a 15- by 10-inch rectangle.

Fold the dough lengthwise into thirds.

Starting from the narrow end, loosely roll up the dough into a coil.

Press it to form a 6- by 5-inch rectangle.

Repeat the rolling and folding process once more.  Roll the dough out into a 15- by 10-inch rectangle.  (If at any point in the rolling and folding process the dough becomes too sticky or difficult to work with, transfer it to a baking sheet or cutting board, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until it becomes workable.)

Fold lengthwise into thirds.

Starting from the narrow end, loosely roll up the dough into a coil.

Press it to form a 6- by 5-inch rectangle.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

Roll the dough into a 20- by 15-inch rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, trim and cut the dough into twelve 5-inch squares, and place 6 on each sheet.  (If they aren’t all perfect squares, it is okay – you can cover it up once you fold them over.)  Refrigerate the dough squares while you make the filling.

To make the filling, peel the apples and grate them on the holes of a large box grater (I used my food processor with the shredding disc.)  Combine the grated apples, sugar, lemon juice and salt in a medium bowl.  Remove one sheet of the dough squares from the refrigerator.  Working with one square at a time, place 2 tablespoons of the apple filling (squeezed of excess liquid) in the center of the dough.

Moisten two adjoining edges of the dough square with a finger dipped in the apple liquid, then fold the top portion of dough over the bottom, making sure to overlap the bottom portion by 1/8-inch.  Crimp the edges of the turnover with a fork.  Repeat with the remaining dough squares.  Return the sheet of turnovers to the fridge and repeat with the second sheet of dough squares.  Refrigerate the filled turnovers 30 minutes, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

While the turnovers are chilling, preheat the oven to 375° F.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir together until mixed well.  Brush or mist the turnovers lightly with water and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake until golden brown, 30-35 minutes, rotating the sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.  Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the turnovers to a wire rack to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: adapted from Baking Illustrated

40 Responses

  1. Annie thank you for all of the great photos here! Pastry and I don’t get along (which may be a good thing because pastry would be my #1 sweet tooth weekness!) Your puff pastry looks airy and flaky and incredible and I’m inspired to give it a try one day soon!


  2. Gorgeous photos of the process… and the final product looks divine! Kudos for making your own puff pastry.

  3. Let me just say that turnovers (aka hand pies) are so beautiful to me! These look delicious!

    p.s. made the cupcakes and used 5tbsp of butter for the center; was right on the consistency but it pulled away every so slightly from the sides of the cake – might do 4 1/2 T next time. LOVE THE FROSTING!!!

  4. wow…so much easier then the way I make puff pastry ….I put the butter inside the dough and then fold roll and repeat a few times…it’s how I learned in culinary school and it’s a pain in the behind! I’m going to try this way this weekend……I’m so excited….thanks for the step by step instructions!!! I LOVE YOUR SITE!

  5. I like this coiling method for quick puff pasty dough. I’d bookmarked a similar “rough” puff dough from Tartelette, but now I think I may use her larger quantity with your even quicker method. Thanks for sharing! Those apple turnovers look great!

  6. this totally makes pastry seem easy! i may just have to try this tomorrow!
    as always, fabulous

  7. these look great!! Thank you for the photos, they really help me and make me less intimidated to try new things!!

  8. I echo what Adrianne said — you make it look so easy! Love the pictures of the rolling and folding; that’s very helpful.

  9. those are the neatest photos ever!!! thank you!!! 🙂

  10. Yay Annie! Welcome to the puff pastry club. I haven’t tried the regular version yet, either. Part of me wants to so I can say I’ve done it, but the other part of me liked to quick version so much I’m not sure I need the full-length one! These look delicious!

  11. Congrats on making your own pastry! I have made puff pastry a few time. The last time I did it (for Daring Bakers) I totally failed. I’m so glad yours turned out. Those turnovers look delicious….

  12. These look delicious. I have never made puff pastry before but I would love to give these a try.

  13. another one to try! i love having all the pics to see if mine, when i make it, looks similar! have a great weekend!

  14. Those look absolutely perfect! I agree, the step-by-step instructions with photos is really helpful. If I hadn’t already gone through 1.5 pounds of butter this week, I would make these today!

  15. Nice work! I am definitely going to try a GF version of this. I’ve made croissants before but I’d like to try a pastry without yeast so I can use it for pies and tarts. Gorgeous (and helpful!) photos, too.

  16. I am a new reader. Very excited about all your posts. Thank you for all the pictures. That really helps me have the confidence to try these. 🙂

  17. genius photos. I HAVE tried making proper puff pastry before and it was such a long messy process with disappointing results. This, however, looks great. I shall use it to make Mincemeat Pies at Christmas

  18. Annie — have you ever made this recipe with purchased puff pastry? Would you say it was worth the effort (I don’t ask that about many things, but puff pastry — I wonder)?

    • Hi Barbara,
      No, I’ve only tried this with the homemade puff pastry. I thought it was completely worth the effort, because to be perfectly honest, it didn’t seem that big of an effort. It is a “quick” puff pastry so it is not as labor-intensive as the traditional method. I have never really loved store-bought puff pastry though, so to me this seems worlds better.
      🙂 Annie

  19. These look amazingly good. Mmmmmm!

    I remember making puff pastry at school and I enjoyed making it, I think I would just buy it now. Life is sometimes too short. Although, I did love your ste-by-step photos 🙂

  20. gorgeous photos…these look heavenly!

  21. Wow! Wonderful detail and fabulous photo tutorial! Love this post.


  22. Annie, your blog is fantastic! Love this apple turnovers! Thank you for sharing with us 🙂


  23. Thanks for the step by step. I’ve always wanted to make turnovers, this post is going to come super handy then!

  24. I made these yesterday to use up the last of my fall apples – they were delicious and a huge hit! I thought the pastry method was quick and actually pretty easy (thanks so much for your pictures it made the process much less intimidating!) and tasted delicious. I made the whole recipe and then flash froze about half of the pastries so I am hoping that they will turn out just as well as the first batch. Great post!

  25. I made these for the coffee shop where I work and they were great! Best part – I could make them up the night before and just throw them in the oven the next morning – leaving me time to bake scones & biscuits. I love the grated apple idea – I threw in some fresh cranberries which gave them great color and a little tart spark!


  26. I can’t wait to try this! Thank you!

  27. Annie,
    My Food processor is not big enough to mix the first steps of the puff pastry. Can I use my stand mixer or blender instead?

  28. Hi Annie! I was wondering if you’ve ever tried freezing the puff pastry dough? This would be such a great thing to have on hand whenever you need it! Thank you so much! 🙂

    • All the time! I usually split the finished block in half because a whole block is a lot of puff pastry. Then I just wrap really well and keep it frozen. I haven’t bought puff pastry from the store since I started doing this, it doesn’t even compare!

  29. Ok thank you! I’m about to start making it right now!

  30. Thanks for the awseome recipe! I made them this weekend and my family loved them! They are the perfect fall treat!! 🙂

  31. Hey Annie! Just wondering, for other recipes that call for puff pastry, would you use this same recipe INCLUDING the lemon juice??

  32. hi annie:-) i don’t own a food processor, could i use a pastry blender to cut up the butter instead? i use one for making pie crust, but didn’t know if it was a different process:-) thanks!

    • In theory you can though I’m not sure it will work quite as well. It’s one thing with pie dough but with this quantity of ingredients and the whole thing being more temperamental than pie dough, I just can’t say. The only way to know is try it and see.

  33. I brought these into work the other day and everyone raved about how great they were. Thanks for the great recipe and wonderful instructions on the puff pastry!


  35. I just found these & made these for my parents (a treat they always loved when I was growing up). I cheated and used store-bought puff pastry, but am keeping this bookmarked for when I get adventurous and want to make my own! THANKS & check it out at http://ringr.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/apple-turnovers/

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