A small batch recipe for homemade Puff Pastry Cherry Turnovers. The perfect batch of 4 turnovers made with a fresh cherry filling and flaky puff pastry from scratch. Drizzle with a little chocolate ganache for the perfect breakfast treat!
Homemade Puff Pastry Turnovers
First things first – there is no need to fear when you hear the words homemade puff pastry. I used to, until I made it. Then I realized that it is similar to making pie crust, just rolling and folding a few more times.
What makes puff pastry such a delicacy are the tons of flaky layers. The pastry itself may seem like heavy dough, but in actuality, it is light and airy. The many layers are separated by air pockets created by the butter, and the result is flaky, crispy goodness.
French patisseries have the market cornered on some of the best puff pastry treats, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make a batch in our own kitchens. The beloved Julia Child taught the art of making puff pastry in her Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook, and it is with this that we’ll talk about finessing the dough next.
I mentioned above the concept of ‘folding’ the dough. To make all those flaky layers, the dough needs to be folded over itself a few times to create these layers. There is a formula that calculates the number of layers, and with that, there are recommendations for how many layers a certain pastry should have. For these turnovers, we are going to fold the dough 6 times, which will give us over 700 layers. If you want to count them, I salute you!
Laminating Dough Steps:
- Roll out the dough into a 9-inch rectangle
- Fold one side of the dough to the middle, then the other side to the middle – like a letter
- Rotate the dough a quarter turn
- Repeat steps 1-3 five more times
It isn’t just the process of folding the dough that gives you all of the layers. In fact, I would argue that the butter is the most important ingredient in puff pastry. When the butter melts, it releases steam, which puffs up the dough revealing all of the layers.
Puff Pastry Butter Techniques
There are a couple of techniques for incorporating the butter into the dough. If you are a fan of the Great British Baking Show, the pastry chef’s use the traditional technique. The stick of butter is kept whole and pounded flat with a rolling pin. Then it is placed on top of the rolled out dough, and it is at this time you begin the folding, rotating, and rolling process. This technique ensures there is butter in every nook and cranny of the dough.
For this recipe, I took the easy route. And the result still proves that there is butter in every nook and cranny of the dough. We are going to cube the butter and incorporate it with the flour at the beginning of the recipe. As you start to roll out the dough, you will see pieces of butter throughout the dough, and this is what we want. It is not dissimilar to making our Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits, the dough in our Cherry Almond Galette, and the tiny pie crusts in the Individual Peaches and Cream Pies.
The Importance of Butter in Puff Pastry
We talked about the steam that the melted butter creates to reveal the flaky pastry layers. But the key to the butter while we are making the dough is that it has to stay chilled. If the butter melts into the dough while we are laminating it, then the benefit of the steam is essentially gone. Which is why we chill the dough.
This is also why I recommend chilling the dough after 3 turns of laminating the dough. Now, it you are working fast, your kitchen is not 100 degrees, and you still see the pieces of the butter, make all 6 of the turns at once. Then refrigerate the dough.
Small Batch Cherry Turnover Filling
Phew! We made it to the filling! I recommend keeping the fruit you choose as intact as possible. It gives the pastry a good bite with all of the natural flavors of the fruit. Especiallly with a turnover – you kind of expect big pieces of fruit when you bite into one!
Ok, so to reiterate:
- Think of puff pastry as an enhanced pie dough
- Keep the butter chilled and refrigerate the dough after the third fold (if needed)
- Just try it – you won’t be disappointed with the flaky, butter layers!
Puff Pastry Cherry Turnovers
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 1/3 cup water, ice cold
- 1 egg white, beaten with 2 teaspoons of water (for brushing the dough)
- coarse sugar (optional – for sprinkling on top of the turnovers)
- 2 cups fresh cherries – pitted and halved
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
CHOCOLATE GANACHE DRIZZLE
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips (any sweetness)
- 1/4 cup milk, or heavy cream (any non-dairy or dairy )
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar.
- Add the cubed butter. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly with pea-sized butter pieces.
- Create a well in the center of the dough and add the water. Mix with your fingers. The dough will still be a little crumbly and may seem too dry. It will come together once you start rolling it.
- Pour the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and form into a rough triangle with your hands. Flour the rolling pin and roll the dough until it is about 9-inches long. The next few steps are what is called 'laminating' – folding the dough over itself.
- Take the bottom of the dough and fold it over the middle of the dough. Then take the top of the dough and fold it over the middle of the dough too. Like you are folding a letter.
- Rotate the dough a quarter of a turn, and roll the dough out until it is about 9-inches long again. Flour the surface as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Repeat the letter fold, rotate, and roll out for a total of 6 folds – ending with a folded piece of dough.
- If at any time during the laminating process the dough gets warm and the butter seems to be melting, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for about an hour. Then pick up where you left off.
- Wrap the folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
- Make the cherry filling while the dough is chilling.
- In a small saucepan, add the prepared cherries, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cornstarch. Stirring occasionally, cook over medium-low heat until the juices start to release from the cherries and the mix becomes thick – about 5-7 minutes.
- Most of the cherry halves will still be intact for a thick filling. If you prefer a smoother filling, cook the cherries for 2-3 minutes longer and mash with a wooden spoon while they are cooking.
- Transfer the filling to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the turnovers.
ASSEMBLING THE TURNOVERS
- Preheat the oven to 400F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
- Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into a 9-inch square. Cut the sheet of dough in half both lengthwise and widthwise, to get 4 squares.
- Spoon the cherry filling into the middle of each dough square – equally dividing the filling among each square.
- Using a pastry brush or your finger, dab a small amount of the beaten egg white onto one of the corners of each dough square. Fold the opposite corner over the filling and press the two corners together, to make a triangle.
- Brush the tops of each turnover with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with the coarse sugar (if using).
- Transfer the turnovers to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the turnovers turn golden brown.
- Prepare the chocolate drizzle while the turnovers are baking. Place the chocolate chips and milk in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 30-45 seconds, until the chocolate starts to melt. Remove from the microwave and let it sit for a few minutes for the chocolate to melt further. Then stir until the mix is smooth.
- Cool the turnovers on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool further. Drizzle the chocolate over the top of each turnover with a spoon. Or transfer the chocolate ganache to a small plastic baggie and cut one of the corners to create a piping bag.
- The turnovers are best served immediately, while still slightly warm. If there are leftovers, store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 day.