What I love about Spring, apart from the warmer weather, the annual stripping of the winter layers, and exhilarating spring clean of my overflowing wardrobe, is the joy of sharing afternoon tea in the sunshine.
I can wrap a light pastel spearmint cardigan around my shoulders as I stir my apples on the stove without shuddering from the cold. I can enjoy an extra couple of minutes of sunlight during the afternoons for reading or relaxing but the best part of the onset of Spring for me? I can sit outside again on my small, pretty balcony with a delightful pot of tea to be shared for two with freshly baked gluten free apple turnovers direct from the best little local bakery in the building... My oven.
I'm not ashamed to admit that these little turnovers win me over every time I bake them, and with a fresh new gluten-free twist on my mother's recipe, how can we possibly resist? Before you serve you will need: One dear friend, with whom you can laugh about anything. Dessert wine optional.
Mum's Apple Turnovers
Sweet Apple Filling
4 Jonagold apples (peeled, cored and chopped into small cubes)
1 William's pear (William's bon chrétien pear- sounds so fancy! Prepare like the apples)
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated raw sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cinnamon scroll, or 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 generous pinch nutmeg
To a large heavy based pot add the apple and pears cubes, lemon juice, brown and raw sugar, salt and spices. Simmer the apple and pear filling over low heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until the apples pieces are soft and golden and cooked all the way through. You will notice a little bit of liquid in the pot and can continue to cook until this evaporates, otherwise you'll need to drain each spoonful when you transfer it to the puff pastry to prevent leakage when they bake. Once cooked, allow the filling to cool completely.
Jonagold apples are excellent for baking if you want an apple that will keep it's shape during baking.
Gluten Free Puff Pastry
You can opt to bake your own, or go out and purchase:
Cheat's Option: 1 packet of store-bought gluten free puff pastry (you will use about 2-3 sheets)
For lovers of pastry with gluten, the regular puff pastry is perfect for this receipe.
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Remove puff pastry from the freezer and cut one sheet of puff pastry into 4 squares. The puff pastry will begin to soften and become difficult to work with not long after it is removed from the freezer, so remember to work with one sheet at a time. Rotate the pastry squares so they look like diamonds, then scoop one generous, drained spponful of the sweet apple filling into the centre of each pastry diamond. Roll over one of the diamond corners to the opposite side and press the edges closed so that you end up with a perfect little bulging triangle. Brush each turnover with water, then sprinkle with cinnamon and fine sugar or with a generous pinch of raw sugar crystals, then bake the turnovers in batches on parchment paper-lined baking trays at 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit) for between 8-12 minutes, or until they are golden and flaky. Make sure the pastry is cooked before removing the turnovers from the oven to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.
You can dust the turnovers with cinnamon and castor sugar, but I preferred to bake mine with a few large granulated raw sugar crystals on the top... It's nice to have a little bit of extra crunch when you eat these, fresh from the oven.
If serving hot, warn your guests that the filling may burn them. I love to serve the hot turnovers with vanilla bean ice cream and rasberry sauce, but they are also delicious with caramel sauce or custard.
If you want to plait the pastry to make apple danishes, slice thin strips into each side of the pastry diamonds taking care not slice all the way through, otherwise the apple filling will leak all over your baking tray, which you don't want- Trust me. Spoon your apple filling into the centre of the diamond, then work quickly to fold opposite layers of the pastry strips on top of each other, alternating sides so that it looks like your pastry has been plaited.
If little windows are more your cup of tea, then carefully slice little holes into the pastry of one square using a paring knife, then use another pastry square as your base. Spoon the apple mixture onto the bottom square and seal the parcel with the pastry square with the cut-outs. The choices for turnover and pastry designs are endless, and you can have a lot of fun making these, allowing your creative imagination run wild (Who said playing with food was a bad idea?!).
I love to serve apple turnovers warm with a pot of tea on a little table on our balcony, overlooking the city skyline in the afternoon sun.
Your turnovers will last about one week if you store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator but in all honesty, they're best eaten freshly baked.
Check out these beautiful flaky layers of crispy puffed pastry. The secret to the best puff pastry really is in the layers!