Sunday, September 5, 2010

End-of-Summer Blueberry Turnovers

It’s the end of the summer (sob), and time to make desserts with the last of the local fruit and berries. Pies are always a good choice. Relatively easy to make, a fruit pie with a simple filling showcases the natural sweetness and flavor of the fruit without 

overshadowing it. Combining the same elements as pies—pastry and fruit filling—turnovers are like personal pies. No one can raise an eyebrow when you cut too big a slice, because there’s no slicing a turnover. It’s all yours. Turnovers can be made with standard pie 

crust, or they can be Frenchified with puff pastry. They can be served plain, with a sprinkling of sugar on top, or glazed.  I decided to make a Blueberry Turnover with a puff pastry crust, because I love the buttery crunch of baked puff pastry with the fruit filling. I 

used my recipe for Quick Puff Pastry for the crust, but store-bought puff pastry is an excellent option. Just roll each sheet out to a 12-inch square, as called for in the recipe. The filling for turnovers should be relatively thick, to prevent it from seeping out of the 

pastry as you form the turnovers, so I call for chilling it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. You should also chill the turnovers for 30 minutes before baking them for the best results.

On another topic, I saw a wonderful film the other day—it’s called Kings of Pastry, and it documents the epic journey of pastry chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, an old friend of mine, as he attempts, along with 15 other finalists, to earn the M.O.F. (Meilleurs Ouvriers de France—

Best Craftsman in France) designation. This honor, the highest there is for a pastry chef, is bestowed upon only those deemed worthy enough after a grueling three-day demonstration of skill, artistry, training and perhaps a bit of luck. The film follows Jacquy

as he painstakingly prepares for the competition at home in Chicago, up to the presentation ceremony in Lyon. He, along with his co-competitors, seeks to fulfill his dream, which is one that can only be achieved through excellence under intense pressure. Some 

handle the pressure well, while others crack up—you’ll see a few grown men sobbing uncontrollably in the film, but I won’t ruin it for you by divulging the outcome. As Jacquy put it, “The M.O.F. is not about doing ‘the best you can do’, but the ‘best that can be done.’” And that’s never an easy thing. To read the NY Times review of the movie, click here.  The film opens on September 15. For showing information, visit

Blueberry Turnovers

Makes 8 turnovers

Quick Puff Pastry:
1 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice cold water

Blueberry Filling:
1 pint fresh blueberries
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for sealing dough
Turbinado or coarse sugar for sprinkling

Make the dough:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment or beaters, combine the bread flour, cake flour, and salt at low speed. If your mixer has a splatter shield attachment, attach it now. Add the butter pieces, one-third at a time, and mix for just a few seconds. The mixture will be very crumbly, with large pieces of butter in it. While continuing to mix at low speed, add the ice cold water, and mix just until the dough starts to come together. (Large pieces of butter should remain.)
2. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and pound and pat it into a rough rectangle with a rolling pin. Roll the dough into an 8-by-16-inch rectangle, dusting the dough with flour as needed. Arrange the dough with a short side closest to you. Brush off any excess flour on the dough with a pastry brush. Fold the bottom third up over the center, and then the top third over the bottom, as if you were folding a business letter. The dough now has three layers. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, so that the open folded sides are at the top and bottom. Roll the dough out again to an 8-by 16-inch rectangle. Fold it again to make three layers. The dough has now been “turned” twice. Wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it so that the open ends are on the top and bottom. Roll and fold the dough as before, to make two more turns. The dough is now ready to use, or may be stored for future use.

Make the Blueberry Filling:
3. In a medium saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar and salt. Add the lemon juice and cornstarch and toss to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly (but gently), until the blueberries release their juices and the mixture comes to a boil. Boil for about 30 seconds, until thickened (the mixture should be thick). Transfer to a bowl and cool completely and then refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

Shape the turnovers:
4. Cut the puff pastry in half to make two rectangles. Wrap one of the rectangles in plastic wrap and return it to the refrigerator. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Roll out the dough rectangle and trim it into a perfect 12-inch square. Cut into 4 smaller squares, being careful to make them even. Brush the edges of a square with the eggwash (set remaining eggwash aside for use later). Spoon about ¼ cup of the chilled Blueberry Filling on half of the square and gently fold the other half diagonally over it, pressing the edges to seal the pastry.  Press the edges down using the tines of a fork. Refrigerate the turnovers as you finish them, chilling them for at least 30 minutes before baking. Repeat with the remaining puff pastry dough.
5. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Arrange the turnovers on the baking sheet and brush them with the reserved eggwash. Cut 2 or 3 slits in the top of each turnover, and then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the turnovers are golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Serve warm.