Apple Turnovers – Not An Apple Pie

Hand pies 2

Assorted apple turnovers.

I didn’t make an apple pie. I bet you thought I was going to make an apple pie. I mean, what could be more natural in a house inundated with 20 plus pounds of apples?

But no. No pie. Not only is pie, as I’ve written before, not a good dessert for the single studio life, but pie is too expected. Too banal. Too easy. I wanted a baking challenge. I also wanted to make something that I could hand out to my choir as a mid-morning pick me up, and pie is simply too messy.

So I settled on apple turnovers. You could also call them hand pies – and, in fact, I adapted them from a Smitten Kitchen recipe for peach hand pies (discovered during the peach picking incident).

This pie dough is unlike any I’ve made before – sour cream gives this dough a flaky texture that’s a cross between puff pastry and pie dough. The dough has little buttery, crispy pockets, making it lighter than a traditional pie crust. The sour cream, along with some lemon juice, adds another dimension to the crust that I really liked.

For the filling, I decided to dress up the apples with ginger and cranberries – in fact, I might make these again around the holidays. The heat from the ginger brings out the sweet-tart flavors of the apples and cranberries, and the cinnamon and allspice give these turnovers a nice, festive kick.

I also made a second set of turnovers, with a cheddar crust, but that’s a recipe for another post. Let’s just say that after boldly facing the apple deluge, I had a turnover flood on my hands. Thankfully, I found some very lovely folks from the Adams Morgan Listserv who took them the rest of these turnovers off my hands – I may have found a solution to the problems in my pastry supply chain.

Four apples down. Nineteen pounds to go.

Apples - haul

You will not defeat me.

Recipe: Apple, Cranberry And Ginger Turnovers
Makes approximately 32 turnovers
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Note: I had intended to do this properly, write everything down, and have the recipe really reflect what I did. However, I ended up dicing up way too many apples and made about three times as much filling as I needed, so I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone. Needless to say, this recipe is an approximation. But, really, just taste the filling – if it tastes good, then you will be fine.

Crust Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tps sugar
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup sour cream
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup ice water

Filling Ingredients
Four medium sized tart apples (I used Sun Crisps. At least, I think that’s what they were. But Granny Smiths or Galas would work nicely as well), peeled, cored, and cut int a 1/4 inch dice – around 3 cups
3 tbs finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries, soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes and drained
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp dried ginger

Glaze Ingredients
2 tbs cream mixed with 2 tbs water

For the crust, whisk together flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Place the butter in the freezer for 15 minutes as well – you want all your crust ingredients to be very cold.

In a small bowl, mix together sour cream, lemon juice, and ice water. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Remove flour mixture and butter from the freezer. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the sour cream mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until a rough dough is formed. You don’t want to overwork the dough – handle it as little as possible. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide in two with a knife or bench scraper. Flatten into disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350F.

While the dough is chilling, mix together the filling ingredients in a small bowl.

Remove one disk of dough from refrigerator. Unwrap dough and place on a cleanly floured work surface. Roll dough into a large circle, until dough is 1/8 inch thick. Using a four-inch biscuit cutter (or, in my case, tart pan) cut out circles of dough. Gather scraps into a ball, re-roll to 1/8 thickness, and cut out more circles of dough.

Place a little filling (1 to 2 teaspoons) in each disk of the dough – place it off center, but leave a 1/4 inch border. Fold the other side of dough over the filling and line up edges (it will look like a little half moon). Crimp edges of the turnover with a fork. Pierce top of the turnover with the tines of a fork, to make a small steam vent. Remove to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with other dough circles. When finished with the first disk of dough, remove the second disk from the refrigerator and repeat the rolling/filling/folding/crimping process.

Before baking, lightly brush turnovers with glaze. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned.



  1. Julia said

    I took the extra turnovers and they were delicious! I had so many I felt bad hogging them and gave a few to some ladies sitting in our building. They loved them, as did my friends! I volunteer to take all future leftovers. I promise I will put them to good use. Plus I’m just a short stairwell away…

    • moderndomestic said

      Yay! I’m so glad you and your friends liked them. I think this bodes well for our building.

      It was great meeting you! I will keep you in mind for other baking projects . . .

  2. Rebecca said

    I really like the flavor and smoothness that sour cream adds to baked goods too. My only complaint is that I end up using the 1/2 cup of sour cream for my recipe and then the rest goes bad in my fridge because I have no other purpose for it. Do you think I could make extra of this recipe and store it in the freezer? i was thinking I could prepare it all the way up to the circles and then store in the freezer with a piece of wax paper between each circle. What are your thoughts on the likelihood of that working?

    • moderndomestic said

      Yes, you can definitely freeze the dough – Smitten Kitchen says that you can freeze the dough for up to one month – just place the wrapped disks of dough in a freezer bag and store in the freezer. I don’t see why freezing individual disks wouldn’t work – although they might be more susceptible to freezer burn than storing the whole disk.

      I also have the problem with sour cream going bad. You could bake the apples with some sugar and then serve them with sour cream on top – maybe mixed with a little honey and sprinkled with toasted nuts. You could also make a Mexican dish and serve the sour cream with that, although I never actually want sour cream with my Mexican food. I prefer salsa, or guac.

  3. […] saw what looks like a delicious apple turnover at Modern Domestic, but that’s way past my comfort […]

  4. Alice said

    I made this recipe, with a few differences. First, I forgot that I only had whole wheat pastry flour, so I had to use that. The crust was predictably tougher than it would have been otherwise. I also skipped the glaze ’cause I didn’t want to buy cream for one purpose. I also made the filling apple-only, using just cinnamon for spice. They turned out okay, though not as good as I’d have liked, given the time involved. I still have 8 to bake, so I may whip up an egg glaze to improve the crust on those. I’d like to try these again with white flour, and since I’ve got the apples to do it, I probably will.

    Oh, btw, I used Cortland apples picked fresh that morning. Delicious!

  5. […] Do not be alarmed. You are not traveled back in time to September. You have, indeed, seen these turnovers before. […]

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