Friday, January 4, 2013

Real Apple Turnovers and Quick Puff Pastry

I know often we hear people say things like, "Why make your own....its way too difficult, or it takes too long, or blah, blah, blah." Well, the fact is, things you make at home TASTE BETTER than things you buy at the store. There are few exceptions. Maybe ketchup, or Worcestershire sauce wouldn't be worth the effort, but just about everything else is. From salad dressings, and homemade jam, to ice cream, bagels, and now cream cheese, I haven't really run across anything that isn't drastically improved when made at home.
I know it's not for everybody, but its my hobby. I love doing it, I really enjoy it, and I love eating it!
It might seem like I try to create work for myself, but I really don't. I just hate relying on something expensive that I can only get from the store, read: puff pastry. I went to make some apple turnovers the other day, and I had already planned on picking up the puff pastry from the frozen aisle of the grocery store. As I made my plan I thought of what a cheater I was, making these apple turnovers. All I was doing was making the apple filling and baking them. That wasn't a real treat. What's next? Refrigerated pie crust? Biscuit mix? Canned cinnamon rolls??!!
That is how we got where we are. One small step at a time. One thing leads to another and we begin buying things we could just as easily make at home and we are losing our foothold. Before long our children will open a package for scrambled eggs, reheat pre-cooked bacon, open a can for gravy, and open a box for pie.
Not if I have anything to do with it. I marched over to my trusty cookbook, knowing I read about an easy puff pastry dough that she promised was better than Pepperidge Farms could ever make and I said, "I am doing it."
Now, to be totally honest, I sort of messed it up. I had a lot going on, it was warm in the house and I over-mixed the butter. It was still amazing. I will be making it again, especially since it makes two batches and I can freeze the rest, one of my favorite kitchen tricks. I can't wait to make cherry turnovers with those glossy red beauties I saw at the grocery store, or top a quick chicken pot pie with a square. The crust absolutely melts in your mouth in a flakey, buttery mess. I can't wait to see what happens when I make the recipe right...

Quick Puff Pastry
Adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking
Makes 2¼ pounds

4½ sticks (18 ounces) cold unsalted butter
3 cups (15 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ tsp salt
6 tbsp (3 ounces) very cold water
1½ tsp cider vinegar

Just a side note, from my experience, all the additional chilling is not necessary if your house is under 70 degrees.

Chop the butter into ¾-inch cubes and place in the bowl of stand mixer. Add the flour and salt and toss with your hands until the butter is coated. Chill the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Combine the water and vinegar and place it in the refrigerator as well.

Fit the bowl onto the stand mixer with the paddle attachment and blend on low speed for 1-1½ minutes. The butter will break up into pieces of various sizes, the largest about ½ inch square. Don’t overblend.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the water and vinegar mixture, drizzling it in at different points around the bowl. In about 10 seconds, the dough will begin to come together in large chunks and will feel slightly moist. It will not look smooth or finished. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, scraping out any dry bits at the bottom of the bowl.

Shape the dough into a rough rectangle about 6 by 8 inches, about 1½ inch thick (yes, I measure). Dust the top with flour and roll out into a 14 by 16 inch rectangle. Brush any flour from the surface of the dough. Make a letter fold (fold it in thirds, like a business letter). Use a board scraper or offset spatula to help lift the dough. It will look shaggy. Roll the pin across the top of the dough briefly and gently 1-2 more times, just to fuse the dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Repeat this turning step 2 times, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between each turn if it is soft at all.

Complete your last letter fold and wrap the dough in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using, and up to 48 hours.

The dough can be frozen double-wrapped in plastic for 4-6 weeks. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator prior to use. If still too cold, let it sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes, until it is flexible enough to roll.

 An invaluable tip listed in this book is this: you can roll out half the dough into an 11 by 15-inch rectangle and freeze on a plastic lined baking sheet covered in plastic wrap.

For apple turnovers:
5 apples, peeled and cored (my all time favorites are sweet crisp, like fugi, gala, and pink lady)
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1teaspoon pumpkin pie spicedash salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons butter

1/4 cup light colored jam, like apricot
Sanding sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375.
Cut the apples into bite-size pieces. Melt the butter, and combine with the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl.
Using half of the puff pastry, roll out into an 11 by 15 inch rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise, then into quarters, making 8 total.
Put a spoonful of the mixture into the center of each square and fold over into a triangle.
Press to seal.
Cut slits in each turnover, and transfer to a lined baking sheet.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown and puffed up.
In the meantime, melt the jam with 3 Tablespoons water in a small saucepan. As soon as the turnovers come out, brush with the liquid to get that gorgeous glossy shine.
Dust with sanding sugar, sugar in the raw, or regular sugar, if desired.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Laurel, I am going to give this a try. I agree with you on the relying on items we can simply make a home and better!


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