Right now, right this second, life is good. The windows are open. The bills are paid. Henry the Wonderdog is snoozing on the couch. Everyone seems happy and healthy, and I do not take these things for granted. So, I’m sitting here with a warm turnover and a fresh cup of coffee, looking at the falling leaves outside and just enjoying it all for a minute.

OK, I’m sitting here with a warm turnover, a fresh cup of coffee and my laptop.

Seriously, I’ve been thinking for days about what to say about these Fall Fruit Turnovers. I mean, a cream cheese pastry stuffed with chunks of spiced apple and pear and sweetened cranberries isn’t exactly low on selling points. But why would you make turnovers instead of a fruit pie, especially in the fall, when everyone is primed for making pie? We take pie-making seriously. We write books and poems about pie. We make movies about pie. We sing about pie. (Warrant, I’m looking at you.)

Turnovers? Turnovers look like Hot Pockets.

But wait.

Turnovers have their own charms.

They’re cheaper. A respectable pie takes about 3 pounds of apples or pears, but you could make a batch of turnovers with one of each.

They’re faster. Less filling means less prep time and less baking time. Turnovers bake in about half the time of a pie.

They’re more portable. If you’re planning a party or a fall picnic, turnovers are a great dessert choice, because they’re flaky but sturdy. You can eat them with your hands without getting messy.

And, they’re individually portioned. I love that last part, because Jeff is not a fan of cooked fruit, so having a few unbaked turnovers in the freezer means that I can satisfy that craving in moderation, instead of making a deep-dish pie and growing a third buttock.

To start making these turnovers, you mix the cream cheese pastry dough in a stand mixer, divide it into four disks, and chill them in the fridge for about an hour. In the meantime, you can work out, wash dishes, dance in the kitchen with your husband and take five minutes to make the fruit filling. Just cook the orange juice, apple, pear, dried cranberries, sugar, cornstarch, spices and lemon zest in a saucepan, and pour the mixture onto a plate to cool. When it’s time to fill the pastry, you roll each disk into an 8-inch circle, spoon filling onto half the circle (leaving a border along the edge), top the fruit filling with a little butter, and fold the empty half of the pastry over the fruit filling to seal the edges.

I made these turnovers at night, arranged them on a baking sheet, covered them with plastic wrap, and refrigerated them overnight. Then I glazed and baked them the following morning. As soon as the turnovers started getting warm, the house filled with the scents of freshly-baked pastry, fall fruit and cinnamon.

Intoxicating in a way that cold cereal never will be.

When the turnovers came out of the oven, the fruit was warm but firm, not mushy, and the cream cheese pastry was flaky but sturdy enough for me to break in half without having it crumble to bits. It was a breakfast almost worth leaving a warm bed.

Yes, right now, life is good. But as soon as I teach Henry the Wonderdog how to make me a warm turnover and a cup of coffee every the morning, it’ll be even better.

Fall Fruit Turnovers

Adapted from Ken Haedrich’s “Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie”

This recipe makes fairly large turnovers, so feel free to divide the disks in half to make eight smaller ones. Check them regularly as they bake to prevent burning.

Makes 4

  • 1 recipe Tender Cream Cheese Pastry (see below)
    Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 large Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1 ripe pear, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries (aka Craisins)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Big pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Big pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    Glaze:

  • Milk or light cream
  • Granulated sugar
    Garnish:

  • Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
  1. If you haven’t already, prepare the pastry.
  2. Lightly butter a large baking sheet.
  3. In a medium-size saucepan, combine the orange juice, apple, pear, cranberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, cornstarch and spices.  Stir the mixture into the fruit and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the lemon zest.
  5. Spread the fruit on a plate, and let it cool to room temperature.
  6. When the fruit has cooled, working with one piece of dough at a time, use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough into an 8-inch circle on a sheet of lightly floured wax paper. (If the edges of the dough start to fray and look ragged as you roll out the circle, your dough is probably too cold. Set it aside for a few minutes, and try again. When it’s ready, it will roll smoothly.) Spoon about one-quarter of the filling over half of the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the edge.
  7. Dot the top of the filling with some of the butter.
  8. Moisten the edge of the pastry with a finger dipped in a little water, then fold the empty half of the dough over the filling. Pinch the edges together, rolling them between your fingers into a rope-like edge. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate while you make the remaining turnovers, putting each one on the sheet as it is assembled.
  9. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a baking rack in the center of the oven.
  10. Brush each turnover with a little milk, and sprinkle them with sugar. Take a fork, and poke the tops of each turnover 2 or 3 times to let out the steam as they bake.
  11. Bake on the center oven rack for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. For even browning, rotate the sheet from front to back halfway through baking.
  12. Transfer the turnovers to a wire rack, and let them cool slightly. While they’re still warm, dust with a little confectioners’ sugar, if you like.

FREEZING: Freeze the unbaked turnovers on a baking sheet until they’re firm, then wrap them in wax paper and transfer them to a resealable freezer bag. Store them in the freezer for up to 1 month. To bake them from frozen, just add a few minutes to the baking time.

Tender Cream Cheese Pastry

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  1. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, cream cheese and salt. Blend on medium-low for 30 to 45 seconds.
  2. Stop the machine, and add the confectioners’ sugar and 1/2 cup flour. With the mixer on low, blend until the flour is incorporated.
  3. Stop the machine, and add another 1/2 cup flour and blend. Add the remaining flour. When the dough starts to ball up around the paddle, stop the mixer, and scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
  4. Gently knead the dough 2 or 3 times. Divide it into 4 balls, then flatten each ball into a 1/2-inch-thick disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm enough to roll, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.