There are two turnover holidays in the U.S.: National Apple Turnover Day on July 5th and National Cherry Turnover Day on August 28th.
You can head to the nearest grocer’s freezer case and pick up some trusty Pepperidge Farm turnovers. Or, you can bake a batch or two of homemade turnovers with the recipe below from Good Eggs.
In fact, you can use any fruit, fresh or frozen. We always add peach turnovers to our assortment of apple and cherry. Why not turn your favorite pie—blueberry, rhubarb, whatever—into individual turnovers?
Before we get to the recipe…
WHAT ARE TURNOVERS?
A turnover is a portable pie, made by placing a filling on a piece of dough, folding the dough over, and sealing it.
Turnovers can be sweet or savory and are often a grab-and-go portable meal, similar to a sandwich, an empanada or a pastie. While triangle shapes are most often made, turnovers can be folded into half moons, rectangles or squares. They can be cut with cookie cutters into circles and hearts for special occasions, although since no crust is “turned over,” they’re an exception to the rule.
Savory varieties are often used as a portable meal, as Americans grab a sandwich. Think globally, from calzones to dosas to empanadas to spanakopita.
For Fillings, Anything Goes
Sweet turnovers commonly have a fruit filling, but custard or sweetened cheese can be used. Pastry choices range from classic European puff paste to Mediterranean phyllo/filo to American short crust.
Savory turnovers generally contain meat and/or vegetables and can be made with any sort of dough, though a kneaded yeast dough seems to be the most common in Western cuisines. They are usually baked, but may be fried.
The concept of fruit-filled pastry and portable pies is thousands of years old. While the Egyptians were the first great bread bakers, the Greeks upped the game to cakes and sweet doughs. In ancient Greece, baking first became a profession.
We don’t have a date for the first turnovers, but a printed recipe for “Apple Pasties to Fry” appears in England in 1753.In England, printed recipes start to appear around 1750.
But given the paucity of printed cookbooks (and the literacy level of the general public), they may have been popular for centuries. The rule of thumb in centuries past is that when a printed record is first found, the recipe could be generations older.
Add to that a challenge: Turnovers were often called apple pies, apple being the most popular and widely available fruit filling.
By the end of the century, turnovers were being wrapped in puff pastry, and were called puffs in the U.S.
By 1874, Cassell’s Dictonary of Cookery, published in London, calls them fruit pasties or turnovers. By 1902, Mrs. Rorer’s New Cook Book features a recipe for Apple Turnovers, and the term sticks.
RECIPE: BROWN BUTTER APPLE TURNOVERS
Prep and cook time is 40 minutes. You can substitute any fruit, fresh or frozen, for the apples.
Another tip: Keep puff pastry on hand in the freezer. You can use it for pastries (including spanakopita), pot pies, quiches and more.
Ingredients For 6 to 8 Turnovers
1 package puff pastry or pie dough, thawed
1 pound apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin wedges
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 thyme sprigs, leaves removed
1 egg yolk
For serving: caramel sauce, chopped nuts, crème fraîche, ice cream, whipped cream
1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F.
2. PLACE the butter in a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the milk solids turn golden brown. The butter will foam a bit in the process. After about 10 to 12 minutes, the butter should separate into golden brown solids and a clear yellow oil (which is clarified butter).
 In just 40 minutes, these turnovers will emerge from your oven (recipe below, photo courtesy Good Eggs).
 Cherry turnovers. Here’s the recipe from Country Living Magazine.
 You can make savory turnovers for a first course or light lunch, from ham and cheese or chicken to your favorite vegetables. Here’s the recipe for these apple, sweet potato and bacon turnovers from Savory Simple.
 You can make mini turnovers as cocktail bites (savory) or dessert bites (photo courtesy Peapod).