These cute little autumn apple hand pies are some of the happy products of a dreamy weekend spent in the apple orchards. We took Isabelle on her first apple picking experience and she loved it. Like most weekend apple picking visitors, we got carried away and brought home way more apples than we intended. Fortunately, it’s baking season and I have a plethora of apple recipes to make short work of the pile of apples in the kitchen!
There’s quite a few u-pick apple orchards around the Bay Area, mostly up north around Sebastopol and Petaluma, or down south in Watsonville. We went to Clearview Organic Orchards in Watsonville, on a bright, sunny afternoon. There’s nothing like the sight of rolling hills covered in ripe fruit trees, drenched in golden sunlight, that captures the feeling of summer fading away, and fall wafting in to take its place.
There were numerous varieties of apples ripe for the plucking, including Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Mutsu, and Gala. We were advised that the way to tell if an apple is ready to be picked is if it twists off easily off the tree, similar to berries. Another way is to check the color; green means unripe. Red apples should be all red, of course, while the striped varieties should have golden undertones instead of green.
I also love the small, round shape of the apples we picked; they felt like fairy fruit we found in a forest rather than the big ones you see at the supermarket.
One of my favorite shots from the day.
With a beautiful day in the orchards behind us and a bunch of apples now on the kitchen table at home, I had my next happy task ahead of me: turning them all into baked goods. In the first round: there’s a recipe for apple butter on my instagram that will fill your house with the scent of fall, plus I made a batch of apple turnovers with blitz puff pastry.
Puff pastry is kind of my Achilles heel; I’ll eat it anytime. Once I learned how to make blitz puff pastry this became a dangerous possibility. If you start this in the morning you can have turnovers by dinner time. If you want to skip making your own puff pastry, you can often find premade puff pastry at most grocery stores – I like the Dufour brand.
I used a round lattice mold that doesn’t seem to be available anymore, but you can always cut out rounds or squares and make pop-tart style turnovers by crimping the four edges together, or fold over the squares as described in the recipe below to make traditional turnovers. However you shape them, they’ll turn out delicious.
Happy October, and hope you’re enjoying fall!
- 10 ounces all purpose flour
- 10 ounces unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1-in pieces
- ¾ tsp salt
- 90 ml water, ice cold
- 3 apples (I used Fuji), peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-in cubes
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 egg for egg wash
- Turbinado sugar
- Combine the flour and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix the ingredients together on low speed until the mixture is shaggy and resembles cornmeal, with visible pieces of butter still. Do not let the flour and butter turn into a solid ball of dough – if the components are completely mixed you will not have the layering of flour and fat needed to form the flaky layers!
- Add the salt to the mixture. Pour in the water and mix on low speed just until the dough starts to come together; again, don’t let the dough turn into one solid lump. There should still be little pieces of butter and the dough should be sticky.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and form into a square. If the kitchen is warm and the dough is very soft and sticky, place it on a sheet pan and chill in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes until it firms up enough to work with.
- Using flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking, roll out the dough about ½ inch thick and in the shape of a rectangle. The dimensions are not important – a roughly rectangle shape is fine, but try to keep the edges straight and square with each other so when you fold the dough over the edges will line up evenly.
- To do a single turn on the dough, imagine the long side of the rectangle divided into thirds. Fold one end third over onto the middle third, then fold the other end third over on top, making a trifold. Make sure the edges are lined up as evenly as possible.
- Roll the trifold out again to about ½″ thickness and in the shape of a rectangle, switching the directions of the long and short sides – in other words, the folded sides of the trifold should become the long side and the open sides should become the short side.
- Do another turn (trifold) with this rectangle.
- Repeat this process one more time so you have done a total of three turns. If at any point the dough starts becoming very soft or rubbery, let it rest in the refrigerator for a little bit before working on it some more.
- Roll the dough out into a rectangle. This time, do a double turn – imagine the long side of the rectangle divided into fourths. Fold both end fourths over onto the center fourths, then fold the two sides together again so all four layers are stacked on top of each other. Wrap the dough up completely in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Toss together the apples, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
- Melt the butter in a sauté pan until it golden and starting to brown.
- Add the apples and sauté until the apples have softened and are caramelized, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the apples from heat and let cool completely.
- Take the blitz puff dough and roll out to ¼″ thick.
- Use a ruler and a knife or pizza cutter to divide the dough into 4½″ squares – you should get about 8.
- Make an egg wash with an egg and about a tablespoon of water whisked together.
- Brush the four sides of a pastry square with the egg wash.
- Place a spoonful of apple filling in the center of the square. Be careful not to overfill or you won’t be able to close the turnover.
- Fold one corner of the pastry over to meet with with opposite corner. Press the edges together, using a fork to make a seal.
- The turnovers can now be wrapped and stored in the freezer for about a week. If you want to bake them off, I suggest you still place them in the freezer for about 10 minutes to help them bake up better.
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the turnovers on the prepared sheet. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake the turnovers for about 10 minutes, then rotate the pan, turn the oven down to 350 degrees, and bake for another 10 minutes or so until the turnovers are puffed and golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. You can store them in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.