Friday, September 30, 2011

Prune and Apricot Turnovers

I seem to have hit a sort of phase as I reach the end of this cookbook: the pastry filled with dried fruit phase. There was the apricot strip, there's these turnovers, and I have some raisin-filled cookies coming up. I guess there is an American slant to all these pastries: I'm guessing that the pioneers and such subsisted on dried fruit most of the year. But I'm not convinced they had lovely dried apricots and prunes like these.

No, this seems to be more an Eastern European import--it has a lot in common with hamentaschen and other pastry pockets.

Above all, it's a fun little project (Maida spends more time reminiscing about decorating turnovers with her mother than to actually describing how these taste) that gives you really good results, assuming you like sweet-tart dried fruit conserve in a flaky pastry.

Look at this pastry, people. I almost never get it right, so I'm really proud. Do you see the little pieces of butter showing through? That's what makes the pastry flaky and delicious.
A note: As with the apricot strip, the filling recipe made twice as much as I needed. Given the cost of dried fruit, I have halved the filling recipe here. Otherwise, you're going to have to make some more pastry.

Here's the recipe.

Prune and Apricot Turnovers

You'll need to make the dough and filling well in advance of when you'd like to bake and serve these. Before that, you'll want to soak the fruit--preferably overnight.


3 oz. dried apricots
3 oz. prunes
3/4 c. (6 oz.) water
1/4 c. (1.75 oz.) sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 t. vanilla (not in the additional recipe, but I like it)
(2 T. brandy/rum)
(1/4 c. chopped walnuts)

Soak the dried apricots and prunes in the water overnight. Then put the fruit and the water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Take off the heat and add the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Let cool completely, then add, if you so choose (and I recommend it!), the booze and the walnuts. While the filling is cooling, make the pastry:


2 c. (8 oz.) sifted flour (some whole wheat is good here)
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. (6 oz.) cold butter (I used 5 oz. and it was perfect. Then again, French butter tends to have a higher fat content than American butter)
1 t. cider vinegar
2-3 T. cold water

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and give it a spin to mix. Cut up the butter in cubes and scatter them over the flour. Pulse until the butter is in pieces no larger than a pea. Sprinkle the vinegar and about 2 T. of the water over and pulse until the dough just begins to come together (you may need to add a bit more)--see the picture above. Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper and refrigerate for at least an hour.

When you're ready to bake, heat the oven to 425. Work with half the dough at a time. Roll it out into a fairly large square--it should be thin, but not paper thin: it's got to hold some fairly substantial filling. Trim the edges to make a "perfect" square and then cut the square into 4 squares. Put some water in a small bowl, wet your fingertips, and wet two perpendicular edges of the square. Put just a teaspoon or two of filling in the center of the pastry square and then fold the dry corner of the pastry over the wet corner. Crimp with a fork. Repeat. If you want, you can cut out fancy shapes with your pastry trimmings and apply them with more water. Or you can use them to make cinnamon swirls, as you see I did (roll up pastry with cinnamon sugar, cut, bake). Prick holes in the pastry with the same fork you used for crimping.
Maida says to brush these with an egg wash (1 egg yolk, 1 T. water) before you bake them. I didn't.
Put the turnovers on a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. These are especially good when they're still warm. Maida says they can be frozen unbaked or baked and then re-baked or reheated. I believe it, but I haven't tried it--tiny freezer.

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