Another week, another pile of unloved apples from around the country and Europe brought to our door.. I see it as my civic duty to turn them into something delicious! I almost plumped for a simple crumble but we saw someone making turnovers on TV recently and I've had a niggling craving ever since. 

Making puff pastry is a bit of an arduous task, but rough puff can be made in less than half the time and is slightly more forgiving in nature. You won't get the same number of layers and level of rise as with proper puff, but it's still flaky and buttery and delicious - works for me!

The trick with the pastry is to use frozen butter and be adaptable to the chilling requirements of the dough. You can use more or less butter in the pastry and still get decent results, this recipe is pretty buttery but not so much that you will struggle to roll it into the dough properly. 

When it comes to the filling - I advocate cooking the apples so that you don't end up with a soggy mess. I used the same method as I do for our apple pies at the bakery - mixing sweet and tart eating apples, and making a deep, slightly bitter light muscovado sugar caramel to cook the apples in, and adding a healthy amount of spice and a pinch of salt. It ends up being a proper grown up version of a childhood favourite - sharp, bitter and salty notes to compliment the buttery sweetness.

Make sure you let the apples cool completely and drain off any excess liquid before assembling the pastries to achieve the best results. You can make both the filling and pastry ahead of time so they are nicely cooled / chilled for you to shape and cook the turnovers!

Apple Turnovers

Makes 8

Ingredients: 

For the pastry:

300g plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

6-8 tbsp ice cold water

180g frozen, grated butter - grate and freeze an hour or so before you need it if possible

1 egg yolk, beaten (for brushing the pastry before baking)

For the filling:

6-8 eating apples - a mixture of sweet and tart eating apples

25g unsalted butter

50g light muscovado sugar

25g golden caster sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

A pinch of salt

Lemon juice

To serve:

Custard! Obvs! We won't tell if you go with store bought... but it's worth the effort to make a classic creme anglaise like the one from Leith's

Method

Pastry:

1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Add 55g of the frozen grated butter and toss in the flour to coat it but don't really rub it in or anything.

2. Mixing with a butter knife, add ice cold water gradually to form a rough dough. The technical term is a 'shaggy' dough. It will look a bit of a mess to be honest. As long as the dough comes together and all the flour is hydrated, you're good. A few uneven patches and straggly bits are totally fine - desirable even! Wrap up and chill in the fridge for ten minutes to relax the dough.

3. Roll the dough out into a rectangle twice as long as wide. Sprinkle half the remaining frozen grated butter over the bottom two thirds of the dough. Fold the top third down then the bottom third up - a business letter fold.

4. Turn the dough 90 degrees so the opening of the 'letter' is on the right. If the dough / butter is getting soft, wrap and chill again for a further 10-15 mins. Otherwise roll the dough out again in the same way and repeat the butter and folding process again. 

5. Roll and fold the dough for a final time, but this time don't put any butter in. Chill the dough for an hour or more before using.

Filling:

1. Peel, core and roughly chop the apples into 2-3cm chunks. A bit of unevenness in the size is good as it will give a varied texture in the filling. Toss the chunks in plenty of lemon juice to stop them browning.

2. In a large pan, put the butter and sugars, and heat over a medium flame to melt everything together. Turn the heat up high and add the apples, spices and salt. Cook on a high heat for 5-6 minutes to brown the apples and caramelise the sugar.

3. Once you can smell the caramelly bitterness, turn the heat down and cook the apples for another 5-6 minutes until starting to soften and release their juices. Leave to cool completely then drain any excess liquid off before using to fill the turnovers. Don't worry about losing the juice - you should have packed plenty of flavour into the apples! 

Assembly:

1. Roll the pastry out to about 4-5 mm thick, on a lightly floured surface. Cut into approx. 8 x 15cm squares. We made a mixture of triangles and rectangles using the same squares, placing the filling on one side and carefully pulling the other side over to cover. You can wet the inside edges with a bit of water to help the pastry stick.

2. Using a floured fork, press down along the edges to form a good seal. Trim the edges with a sharp knife for extra neatness. Chill until firm (30 mins at least) before baking to ensure maximum puff and butteriness.

3. Preheat the oven to 200C. Brush the chilled pastries with the egg yolk and bake for 20-25 minutes. You can turn the oven down to 190C after 10 minutes, and down further 180C if they pastry is getting to brown before cooking through. Don't open the oven door to soon otherwise you will lose rise in the pastry. Make sure the pastry feels firm / cooked and the bottoms are golden brown before removing from the oven and cooling on a wire rack.

ENJOY!!!

PS Keep your leftover pastry off cuts.. stick em altogether, roll out again and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Roll up both ends to meet in the middle... chill, cut into slices and place on a baking tray. Dust with icing sugar and bake until golden and crispy. Chef's perks palmiers!

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