How To Make Fresh Cherry Turnovers From Scratch

In my family’s home, Christmas morning was special for two reasons. Firstly, for the mountainous pile of gifts stacked underneath our faux tree. Secondly, for the homemade turnovers that my mom would make, adding the (dare I pun?) cherry on top to the already festive day.

My brother, sister and I would rise early in the morning to find our mother furiously rolling out dough while still in pajamas. As is tradition in the Joyce family, we children paraded into the living room, snatching up our stockings and settling before the hearth to see what tchotchkes Santa had decided to bestow us with this year.

Our dad, who was most likely the one to have burned the midnight oil playing St. Nick, would be difficult rouse from his slumber in the morning. But mom had the perfect diversion coming out of the oven just as our attention began to turn to the tree: homemade cherry turnovers with crust so flaky that you had to eat them at the table. They gave dad a little extra time to sleep, and me a memory that will last a lifetime.

Here’s to you, mom.

Fresh Cherry Turnovers

For The Crust

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cold and cut into pieces
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

For The Filling

  • 3 cups pitted cherries
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • large pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For The Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk

1. Make the dough: In a food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add in the shortening and half of the butter cubes, pulsing until the mixture looks like gravel. Add the rest of the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles small peas. Pour in 1/4 cup of ice water, then pulse a few more times. Remove dough from the food processor, and roll into two disks.  Wrap each in plastic wrap, and put in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

2. Make the filling: While your dough is chilling, give the cherries a rough chop and add them to a medium sauce pan along with the sugar and salt over medium heat. Cook for about five minutes, stirring constantly. Bring the cherries to a simmer and cook for another five minutes, stirring. Spoon out two tablespoons of the juice from the cherries into a small bowl and stir the cornstarch into it. Pour the cornstarch mixture back into the sauce pan and continue to simmer, stirring the whole time. After about 6 to 8 minutes, the mixture will become very thick. Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice, and allow to cool.

3. Once the dough is thoroughly chilled, remove from the plastic wrap, one disc at a time. Generously flour a flat, clean surface, and, with a rolling pin, roll out the disc until it’s about 1/8 of an inch thick. With a pizza cutter, cut out squares from the dough and place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cherries into the middle of the square. With your fingers, rub a little water over two adjacent sides of each square. Fold the dough square into a triangle shape, firmly sealing the edges with your fingers. Cut a few slits into the top of each pastry, in order to allow steam to escape while in the oven. Repeat the whole process with the second disc of dough. Place the pastries on a greased baking sheet and bake until edges are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

4. While the pastries are baking, stir together the powdered sugar and milk until smooth. If too thick, add a little more milk. If too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar. Once the pastries are finished, drizzle with the glaze and allow to cool.

Tip: You MUST use cold shortening and butter to get a flaky crust.

Dough recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine

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