How do you stay entertained when snowed in? I think the answer is obvious. I bake.
Before coming here, the answer to the above would be sitting in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate in hand and cuddling to a loved one. However, we do not have a fireplace in our studio apartment but a heater that faithfully gives out a loud grinding and hissing sound at 6.30am. It’s hardly romantic.
Today, at last, I laid my hands on Apple Turnover (using Quick Puff Pastry), something I have put aside for weeks. I wanted it to be easy but after reading up on pastries, decided that I should really understand the techniques before trying. So as not to bore you, this is what I’ve made. Read on if you want to know more about Pastries.
Pastries – Puff pastry, Danish pastry, Croissant dough, Choux and Filo.
The enormous variety of pastries comes from manipulating butter, flour, eggs and often sugar using different techniques. The secret to the best pastry is butter.
Pastries are made from a wide variety of doughs. The various doughs used for making pies and tarts are a type of pastry, as is cream puff pastry dough (not to be confused with puff pastry), which is used for cream puffs and eclairs and is made made cooking flour, water and butter together and then adding eggs. Some doughs are laminated, i.e. butter is sealed up in them and they are repeatedly folded like a letter so that the layers multiply. Puff pastry is the purest example of this. Other doughs (those used to make croissants or Danish pastry) are laminated like puff pastry but also contain yeast, which helps lighten them and give them flavour.
I’m lazy and instead of doing the classic puff pastry, I did the quicker version – quick puff pastry. However, it is trickier to make than the classic pastry because large chunks of butter are distributed in the dough and can stick to the pin and to the work surface, while in the classic method, no butter ever touches the pin or surface because it is sealed in the layers of dough. The quick version is especially difficult to make if you are working in a hot kitchen and may require sliding it in and out of the freezer/ fridge to keep it cool. Remember, cold dough cracks when rolled and has to warm up some to become workable. However, as soon as dough gets to the melting point of butter (around 85F) it is ruined.
Quick Puff Pastry (Makes about 500g dough)
1 1/2 cups (235g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60g) cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
250g cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup (125ml) ice water
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together the flours and salt. Scatter the butter over the flour and mix on low speed until the butter is coated with flour. Pour in the water and mix just until the water is absorbed and the butter is still in large pieces.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, dust the top lightly with flour, and pat into a rectangle 2cm thick. Roll out the dough into a rectangle 30cm long about 18cm wide and 12mm (1/2 inch) thick.
With a short side facing you, fold the bottom third up, then fold the top third down, as if folding a letter. Rotate the dough a quarter turn clockwise and repeat the process, rolling the dough into a 30 by 18cm) rectangle and folding into thirds. Repeat the process a third time.
If at any time the dough begins to warm up and the butter begins to soften, place the dough in the refrigerator to chill for 20-30 minutes. After the third and final turn, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or for up to overnight before shaping.
For longer storage, cut the puff into quarters, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, place in an airtight plastic bag and freeze for up to 1 month.
Apple Turnover (Makes 8 Turnovers)
500g Quick Puff Pastry
For the filling
2 tbsp unsalted butter
Granny Smith apples (875g) total weight, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tbsp whole milk
1/3 cup granulated/coarse sugar for topping
Prepare the puff pastry and refrigerate to chill as directed.
Line a half-sheet pan or rimless baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a floured work surface, roll out the chilled pastry dough into 23 by 45cm) rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise, and then cut each half crosswise into 4 squares, for a total of 8 squares. Place the squares on the prepared pan, covered with waxed paper and refrigerate while preparing the filling.
To make the filling, in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and saute until tender, 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with the granulated sugar ans saute, stirring for 1-2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Remove the chilled puff pastry squares from the refrigerator and spread out on a clean work surface. Using a pastry brush, brush the surface of each square with some of the egg mixture, leaving a 6mm border around the edge. Place 2 tbsp of the filling in the middle of each square, fold over to make a triangle, and press the edges together with the tines of a fork to seal. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining squares and filling. Cover with wax paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 425F.
Brush the tops of the pastries with the remaining egg mixture and sprinkle with the sugar. Pierce the top of each pastry twice with the tines of a fork. Bake the turnovers for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350F and continue baking until golden brown and puff, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool on the pan for 15 minutes. Serve warm. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
References: Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of baking, Cooking by James Paterson