The Apple Turnover, The Pastry That Saved an Entire Village
The Turnover and its endless variants have been around for centuries. Each nation seems to have its own variation of the pastry. Spanish Empanadas, Chinese Dim Sum, Indian Samosas. The list is virtually endless; the fillings vary with the region and seasonal availability but the basic folded pastry dough encasing sweet or savory fillings does not. The first written documentation of the turnover dates back to 1753 but the practice of crafting these portable pies date much further back than that. And with good reason, easy to cook, inexpensive, and most of all portable. The turnover and its ilk were convenient, especially for ancient nomadic tribes.
Because the turnover has been such an intrinsic part of so many nation’s diets it’s hard to say who came up with what when. Like most things edible it can be traced back to the French. If not the very first turnover, at least the first of the apple variety, or Chausson aux Pommes. Legend has it that in 1630 in St. Calais, in the Sarthe region of France, an epidemic had spread. The lady of the town, or the Chatelaine, in an effort to relieve their suffering, supplied the afflicted people with flour and apples. The resulting pastry was what we now know as apple turnovers. We can only assume that since the town is still in existence today, and thriving, that the apple turnovers were responsible for the town’s recovery and the regained health of all its inhabitants.
The event is remembered and celebrated annually with the Fete du Chausson aux Pommes. Each year at the beginning of September the inhabitants of Saint Calais hold a medieval festival. It is rumored that the bakers of the town “roll” out their ovens into the street, baking and distributing apple turnovers at an incredible rate. The logistics of the ovens making it from the kitchen to the street has never been fleshed out, but apparently, some residual apple turnover magic remains, enabling the inconceivable to happen yearly.
Apple Turnovers or Chausson aux Pommes
1lb. (app. 6) Golden Delicious apples, quartered
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
0.8 lb (app. 1½) Granny Smith apples, diced
1 Tbsp butter, unsalted
1/3 cup brown sugar.
2 egg yolks mixed with a few drops of water
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
For the Simple Syrup
Combine equal amounts of sugar and water in a small pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, at which point the simple syrup can be kept in the refrigerator.
–Simple syrup can be scaled up or down depending on how much you want, I always double or even treble the recipe when I’m making it so I can have a good amount on hand. Simple syrup can be used in a plethora of applications from cocktails to cakes and having some on hand at all times is highly recommended.
For the Apple Compote
Quarter the golden delicious apples, removing the seeds and stems. Place the apples, vanilla, and water into a pan and cook covered over med/low heat for roughly 10 minutes or until the apples have completely softened. Transfer the steamed apples into a blender and mix until completely smooth.
If the blended apples appear liquidy, transfer them back into the pan and cook them down uncovered until any excess liquid has evaporated.
While the blended apples are cooking down dice the Granny Smith apples into uniform squares. Combine the apples with butter and sugar in a large sauté pan and cook for 10 minutes on high heat. Drain the sauteéd apples and fold them into the apple compote.
Place in the refrigerator uncovered, and let cool completely. The apple filling can be refrigerated for up to 6 days, however, it should be covered after it has initially cooled.
For the Puff Pastry
Preheat your oven to 450℉.
Lightly flour your work surface, since you’re using a laminated dough something that will remain cold like marble or metal is preferable. Divide puff pastry into two pieces and refrigerate the other half or freeze for later use. Roll out dough into a 14×14-inch square about a ¼ of an inch thick. Divide dough into eight disks roughly 4½ inches in diameter. When they are all cut out return them to the refrigerator and allow to chill for ten to fifteen minutes.
–While the dough is chilling whisk up your egg wash (yolk + water) and set aside.
For the Assembly
When the disks have been chilled line two or three of them out onto your work surface.
Laying the rolling pin in the center of the disks roll up and down, 12 to 6 o’clock. Do not roll all the way to the end but instead concentrate only on the center of the disks.
Brush off any excess flour and scoop out the chilled apple filling; approximately 1 heaping Tablespoon per turnover.
When the disks have all been filled, use a small pastry brush to brush the edges with water and fold over sealing well with your fingertips.
Flip the turnovers over before placing them onto your parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush their surfaces with egg wash and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Brush a second coat of egg wash onto their surface before scoring their surface with the back of a paring knife. Be sure to make a small hole in the center of each turnover to enable the steam to escape and prevent the turnovers from breaking open at the seam in the oven. Bake immediately, or return to the refrigerator until ready to bake.
–Unbaked apple turnovers can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Bake the turnovers at 450℉ for five minutes before turning the oven down to 350℉. Continue to bake for an additional 30 minutes.
When the turnovers have finished baking allow them to cool for several minutes before varnishing them with the simple syrup.