With Valerie Comer
Hello there! Is it still apple season where you live? Yeah, I know. Nowadays we can get apples anywhere, any time. But still, autumn and apples go together like blossoms and bees, don't you think?
I love apple pie! Not sure about you, but there are only so many slices my hips need, while hubby's hips, of course, seem immune. He loves the fact that my mom's No Fail Pie Crust recipe makes 7 open pies or 3-4 closed ones. I love the fact that, in theory, I can freeze the dough for using later. But then I forget it in the bottom of the freezer for months on end, and, well, you know how that goes.
So. The solution is (insert trumpet sound): Apple Turnovers!!
Then I freeze those babies, and I can guarantee they don't get lost in there permanently, but find their way into hubby's lunch boxes, one at a time. Yes, I can (mostly) resist them at this stage.
Let's get started, shall we? We'll do this in two parts. First, Mom's piecrust (which, of course, you can use for any kind of pie). It truly is no fail. Very light and flakey. Mmm. And second, we'll go on to the apple turnovers themselves.
Take a large mixing bowl and put in 5 cups of flour. Although I use home-ground whole-wheat flour for nearly all my baking, I use store-bought organic white flour for piecrust. I mean, even I can't convince myself that pie is precisely healthy, so I'll just do the best I can without wrecking the treat! Add 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cut in 1 pound of butter or lard. (I think in Ruthy Talk this is the equivalent of four sticks of butter, or 2 cups). My mom's recipe calls for lard, but I don't usually have it in the house. Butter--real butter--works great, so long as it's been sitting out of the fridge for an hour or so. It should be cool, but fridge-cold is too hard to work with.
Use a pastry cutter or a couple of forks or your fingers to (gently!) crumb these ingredients together. You want those butter bits to be smaller than peas.
Now take a measuring cup and put in 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Yep, vinegar. It's the secret ingredient. (Not a secret any more!)
Add water to the 1-cup line in your measuring cup. Whisk together thoroughly, then pour over the crumbs.
Now you don't want to over-handle the dough, so mix it together gently, then form it into seven balls. Cover the ones you're not using so they don't dry out. Take one and roll it out on a well-floured surface. Sprinkle some flour top and bottom to keep it from sticking, but don't overdo it.
How thin? As evenly thin as you can make it without tearing it. All I can say is that after a time or two, you'll be able to feel the right thickness. Trust me.
Side Note: When I'm doing these for pie instead of turnovers, I roll the crust out on a piece of waxed paper. I lay my pie plate, upside down, centered on the crust, then slide my hand underneath, and FLIP! I can readjust the exact location of the crust, and peel the waxed paper off. Voila! Ready for filling.</i>
The day I made these turnovers I worked with my daughter-in-law, Jen. So while I was prepping the piecrust, she was prepping apples. She used this handy dandy little machine to peel, core, and slice the apples, but I've often done it by hand many times.
What kind of apples? Nearly any kind will do. We used Elstars this time, but you can use Spartans, Granny Smiths, or a local baking favorite.
When she had 6 cups apple pieces, she added 1/4 cup flour, 2/3 cup white sugar (we buy the organic sugar from Costco--it's awesome, and a decent price!), a dash of salt, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon each ginger and cloves. Mix together until the apples are evenly coated.
Nibble a couple pieces. Mmm.
I use a dessert bowl as a template for my turnovers. It's about 5" inches across. You can use anything of a similar size. Just use a knife and lightly follow the curve. I've never damaged my table, but then it's a working table in a farmhouse. So you might want to be careful where you do this. Set aside the dough from around the circles--you'll use all of it together last, not adding it back into each subsequent rolling out. (That's the fast way to toughen dough.)
Put a small amount of apple filling on one side of the dough circle, and fold the dough over it. It takes a bit of practice to get the right amount in! You want it as full as you can get it while still being able to seal the circle.
Use a fork to seal around the arc and poke 3-4 holes in the top to allow steam to escape. Arrange on cookie sheets as close together as you can without touching. Then bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the first batch and adjust for your oven. You want them golden brown and oozing yummy appleness.
You can see Jen's and mine aren't all perfect. Who cares? Not our hubbies! Once the turnovers cooled to room temperature, we popped them in the freezer. Once frozen, we tucked each into a sandwich baggie, then into a hard-sided container so they wouldn't get crushed in the freezer by tumbling roasting chickens or legs of lamb.
One last tip: label the container: Brussels sprouts. That way no one will open the container and you can dole them out one-at-a-time, just as you please.