Winter has finally made its way to Estes Park! With the glittering snow and twinkling lights on the trees in our beautiful Downtown, I can’t help but feel a little festive! The holidays are right around the corner and I kicked off my holiday season this year by decorating our tiny mountain cabin and whipping up a batch of these tasty Spiced Apple Turnovers! My definition of a perfect Saturday afternoon. Grab your pastry blender and holiday cheer ‘cause it’s baking time!
These Spiced Apple Turnovers are plump with fresh apples and warm spices, the subtle sweetness of the brown sugar and honey compliment the buttery pastry dough in a way that could not be butter. See what I did there? Ha!
- Just over half a cup of flour or 125 grams plus more for dusting
- .5 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 5 ounces or 10 tablespoons of frozen grated butter
- 6 tablespoons of ice water
- 1 egg beaten well for egg wash
Spiced Apple Filling:
- 3-4 apples of your choice cleaned and diced (I like to leave the skin on)
- Squeeze of citrus juice and zest (I used a clementine)
- 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- .25 teaspoon of allspice
- .25 teaspoon of ground cloves
- .25 ground nutmeg
- .5 cup of packed dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons of honey, maple syrup or molasses
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Course or raw sugar for topping (optional)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons of half and half or milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- Baking stone or baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- Pastry brush
- Pastry blender
- The pastry dough needs at least two hours to chill in the fridge. If you plan on making these for breakfast, consider making the pastry dough the night before and leaving it in the fridge. Make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.
- Combine flour and kosher salt, whisk together in large mixing bowl.
- Grate frozen butter on top of flour and salt.
- Using a pastry blender, cut the grated frozen butter into the flour and salt mixture until you have small crumbles.
- Add in 6 tablespoons of ice cold water, mix with fork until just barely combined, no more than 15 strokes. The goal is to not over work the dough at this point.
- Place the dough on a well-floured cutting board.
- Dust the top of dough with flour and roll out into a rectangle.
- Fold dough into thirds, rotate the dough and repeat. Roll out the dough into a rectangle, fold into thirds, rotate and repeat, sparingly dust with flour as needed. I did this 8 times! You want the dough to be smooth with very few, small pieces of butter still visible.
- Fold dough into thirds once more and wrap tightly with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Spiced Apple Filling
- Wash and dice the apples. Place in strainer over bowl, add the citrus zest, juice and pinch of kosher salt. Mix to coat the apples. Let sit for about 20 minutes, the salt will pull the extra water out of the apples. The amount will vary depending on the kind of apples used.
- Preheat oven to 355 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, add strained apple mixture, brown sugar, honey (or whatever sweetener used) spices and corn starch. Mix well until apples are coated. Set aside.
- Take chilled pastry dough out of refrigerator and divide into two equal parts on floured cutting board.
- Roll half out into a rectangle, cut into six pieces.
- Place spoonful of spiced apple mixture in center of pastry squares, fold into triangles and lightly pinch sides to seal.
- Take beaten egg and use a pastry brush to brush the tops of turnovers with egg. Sprinkle with raw sugar (optional).
- Repeat with second piece of dough and remaining filling.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and filling starts to ooze out. Let cool slightly.
- While the turnovers are cooling, make the glaze by mixing powdered sugar, vanilla and half and half or milk until desired consistency.
- After the turnovers, have cooled slightly, drizzle glaze over the tops.
- Share with someone! Love people, bake them tasty treats!
The Play by Play
Let’s start with the pastry dough, remember to make this in advance because it needs at least two hours to chill in the fridge!
Combine flour and kosher salt, whisk together in large mixing bowl. I’m a big fan of kosher salt, this might sound weird but I think it tastes better! You can use regular salt if you prefer.
Get ready for a little arm work out! Anytime I make any sort of pastry, I almost always grate frozen butter. It’s a little trick I picked up and I’m telling you, it works. By using frozen butter, you ensure that it will be nice and cold, and stay cool while you work with the dough. The key to a good pastry is cold butter and dough. Plus, grated butter is easier cut into the flour…Segue to the next step…
Cut in that butter! Keep cutting until you have small crumbles. Try to work as quickly as possible so that the butter stays cold. You can even throw it in the fridge for a few minutes if it starts to warm up.
Add in the ice-cold water. What I like to do is fill a measuring cup with ice, then fill with water. Then I take my tablespoon and scoop out the ice water and add it to the flour/butter mixture. Again, cold is key here.
Use a fork to just barely combine, no more than 15 strokes. We don’t want to over-work the dough because that would make it tough, not flaky and delicious.
Place the dough on a well-floured cutting board. You can also do this on your counter top if you’re up to that mess.
Roll the dough out into a rectangle, see all of those chunks of frozen butter? That’s where the magic is. We are going to keep rolling so they won’t be visible once we are done with this, but as long as you keep the dough cold, those little babies will do their job! When you throw the turnovers in the oven, the butter will melt and create steam since it is frozen. That steam is what makes the dough oh so light and flaky.
Next, we are going to work the dough. Remember how I said that we don’t want to over work the dough before we rolled it out? That’s because this is where all of the work is done! Fold the bottom of the rectangle up over one third, and then repeat with the top.
In baking, this can be referred to as a “business letter fold”. Baking business that is. Rotate the dough so that the dough is vertical on your floured surface.
Then repeat 6-8 times! Roll the dough into a rectangle, fold into thirds (business letter fold), rotate the dough and repeat until you have a marvelously smooth surface. You may see small bits of butter in the dough, that’s fine because those will just create more steam, and we like steam in pastries.
Oh la la! Look at that! Give it one more business letter fold, wrap tightly and let chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
While the pastry dough is chillin’, lets whip up that spiced apple filling! I must admit, I love making the dough, but this is what makes the dish shine. The spices just feel like the holidays and who doesn’t like apples? Seriously? My little brother is allergic to apples and I’ve seen him demolish a bowl of Snickers Apple Salad. Oh, the power of apples. That recipe may have to make a guest appearance because it is what dreams are made of! I have digressed, back to the turnovers!
Wash and dice the apples, I like to leave the skin on a) because I like it b) because there are nutrients in the skin c) ain’t got no time for peeling apples! I probably do, but I might be a lazy baker. Place the apples (peeled or not) in strainer over bowl, add the citrus zest, juice and pinch of kosher salt. I used a clementine because that is what I had. You could use a lemon, orange, kumquat, whatever you are in to. Mix to coat the apples. Let sit for about 20 minutes, the salt will pull the extra water out of the apples. The amount will vary depending on the kind of apples used. Preheat oven to 355 degrees.
Add the rest of the ingredients for the filling except for the course sugar and mix well!
Beautiful, look at those spices!
Take your pastry dough out of the refrigerator, unwrap and cut into 2 equal(ish) pieces.
Flour the cutting board, and roll the dough out into a rectangle.
Cut into 6 equal(ish) pieces.
Place a spoonful of the apple filling in the center of the squares.
Fold into triangles and somewhat pinch the sides together, no need to get fancy. This is called “Mountain Rustic.” I just made that up, but is sounds good, huh? Carefully transfer the turnovers to your baking stone or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Beat egg well, brush tops and sprinkle with raw/coarse sugar. Repeat with second piece of dough and remaining filling.
Pop these little treats into the oven! And bake for 20-30 minutes, mine took 24 minutes, so keep an eye on them after 20. You want them to have a handsome golden brown color with the apple filling starting to peek out of the sides. Let them cool for just a few minutes as you mix together the glaze. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and half and half or milk to a small mixing bowl or glass measuring cup. I like to add in the liquid one tablespoon at a time and mix until desired consistency.
Drizzle the glaze over the slightly cooled turnovers. Don’t those look delectable? Let me tell you, they were. Before I knew it I went from 12 turnovers to only 3 left for the photo shoot.
Happy Holidays to everyone! Enjoy the life you lead, and remember:
Love people, bake them tasty treats!