(because knowledge sustains)
for the pastry
Oh darlings, don’t be daunted by the idea of making pastry. It’s as easy as biscuits! If you haven’t made buttermilk biscuits yet, try it. Serve them with boxed soup. Good for breakfast with honey or maple syrup. But I am digressing into biscuits, and this is pastry pocket dough. The freezer is the tool of miracles for both.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- about ½ a cup of ice water (let some ice cubes melt into a bit of water as you begin cooking)
Right out of the refrigerator, cut the butter into cubes. Scatter the butter bits on a cookie sheet so they are not touching each other and stash them in the freezer for quarter of an hour.
Sift together the two types of flour with the salt and sugar. Feel free to sift twice. Sifting the dry ingredients adds air’n’fluff to baked treats and is especially important when you are vegan baking (obviously, these butter-filled pastries are far from vegan, but vegan muffin recipes are comin’).
Toss the frozen butter into the flour. Reach in with your hands and rub the bits of butter with the flour between your fingers. It’s sort of a press and slide motion, and I imagine making flat shingles of floured butter that overlap like scales on a fish to form the flakey layers in pastry. Most instructions I’ve read on pastry making say to cut the butter into the flour until it resembles course meal or other grainy sorts of descriptions, but it feels velvetier than that. Error on the side of less handling the first few times you try; over handling makes crusts and biscuits and the like tough.
Freeze the dough again, about another quarter of an hour.
With a wooden spoon, gently stir in enough ice water for the dough to hold together without getting sticky. Scant half a cup, but it will depend on the weather. Humidity and temperature affect the flour’s ability/need to absorb the liquid.
Flour your little paws and kneed the dough. Pat it together into a ball, press down, turn and press and turn and press, working it against the size of the bowl. Kneed long enough for it to come together, about 5 minutes if that. Then rip your dough ball in half, stick on half atop the other and press down. Do this a few times; you can visualize making the elongated layers that flake, flattening them on top of each other. Divide into two thick circles, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about an hour.
This dough keeps well, and while it makes for “fancy” desserts, it is an awesome vehicle for a gazillion different leftovers. For example: black beans simmered with green pepper and onion with cheddar cheese cubes; white beans, spinach & ricotta; thick stews; thick chili.
for the filling
- one apple – tart for baking, not mealy; try heirloom varieties
(hint hint: Union Square green market is flush with apples right now)
- ¼ cup dried sour cherries
- 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup of sugar
- fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon corn starch
- cup apple sauce
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon milk
pre-heat the oven to 400° and grease a baking sheet.
Peel your apple. Slice it in half, in quarters, then, on an angle, slice out the core with the seeds. Peel and mince about an inch of fresh ginger.
In a medium bowl, mix together apples, sour cherries, and walnuts with the ginger, nutmeg, corn starch, and sugar. I’ve been storing my sugar in this empty lemon, ginger, Echinacea juice jar, and evidently, I did not wash it very well because it’s lemon-ginger-Echinacea-y and delicious in this recipe. Stir in the apple sauce.
Roll out each circle of dough on a lightly floured surface. I don’t have a rolling pin; an empty juice bottle suffices. Roll it out thin – about an eighth of an inch. I roll into an elongated rectangle, following the shape of my cutting board. Trim the edges and slice into rectangles, about four for each circle of dough.
Divide the apple mixture among the cut-outs, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold over the pastries – into triangles if you cut your pastry into squares or into rectangles.
In a small bowl mix the beaten egg with a teaspoon of milk. Use a brush (or your finger or a spoon, but a clean kitchen-use only paint brush or pastry brush works best) to brush the egg mixture on the border of the pastry.
Fold each pastry, enclosing the filling, and crimp the edges with a fork. Brush the tops of the pastries with more of the egg wash. Make 2 or 3 small slashes in the top of the pastry to let the steam escape.
Bake for 20 minutes or until puffed and golden. Cool turnovers to warm before serving.