Strawberry Rhubarb Turnovers

Low-lactose, low-nickel, egg-free, nut-free, and soy-free (and full of love!)


As I began to mix the dough for the strawberry turnovers last week, I was keeping in mind Julia Child’s recipe for apple turnovers, and putting my own thumbprint on it. I thought of my Great-Grandma Julie and her apple pies. I thought of my Grandma Mimi in her long-ago Connecticut kitchen as I pondered the local Connecticut strawberries.

Julia Child sat on one of my shoulders, and Grandma Mimi and Grandma Julie sat on the other — not literally, but the idea of them, as I invented my very own recipe for strawberry turnovers.

This recipe belongs to me. I am including variations for low-lactose as well as egg-free. It is already free of nuts and soy.

The first thing you will need to do is make the dough.

You will need…
– 1 block of lactose-free butter from Whole Foods in the silver package with the green stripe, Green Valley organics brand, to equal 2 sticks (or 1 cup of regular ol’ dairy butter)
– 2 cups of all-purpose, unbleached flour (I guarantee you this will not work if you use bleached flour because the water content in bleached flour will ruin the whole batch of dough)
– 1/4 cup granulated sugar
– pinch of salt
– between 1/4 and 1/2 cup cold water

Combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut butter into small pieces. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. If you don’t have a pastry cutter, use your fingertips to incorporate the butter by rubbing it into the flour. If you can’t picture what I mean, just try out my instructions, and it will make sense as soon as you see how butter CAN be rubbed into flour!

Once you have a mixture that looks sort of like frozen peas or clumps of wet sand, begin adding the water. Start with 1/4 cup, and try to bring the dough together into one or two balls. You will know if you need to add more water because the dough will not come together if it’s not wet enough. Just add about 1 tbsp more water at a time until you can get the dough to come together into balls. It’s ok if there’s a little bit of leftover flour at the bottom of the bowl that didn’t quite incorporate.

Now you need to wrap the dough completely in plastic wrap or plastic baggies, and make sure it is completely covered because if there’s a bit of dough uncovered, it will dry out in the fridge. I usually make two balls and wrap them in plastic wrap. They need to refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 2 days.

You can use the hour while the dough chills to clean up or to bake something else. When it’s almost up, though, you’ll want to prepare the filling!

You’ll want to preheat to 400 degrees.

You will need…
– 1 carton strawberries
– 2 short stalks of rhubarb
– juice of 1/2 a very large lemon, or all of a smaller lemon
– approx 1/6 cup of granulated sugar, to taste
– one beaten egg white for the egg wash at the end, OR bit of milk or Lactaid milk for brushing to keep it egg-free
– sparkly sugar such as turbinado or demerera, or just brown sugar if those are unavailable

Take the plants off the strawberries πŸ˜‰ The green leafy areas, that is! Cut larger strawberries into quarters, and smaller strawberries in half, so the pieces are all similar in size. Cut the rhubarb to about half the size of the strawberry pieces, since it’s bitter, so you don’t want to get too big a mouthful of rhubarb.

In a small bowl, mix strawberry chunks, rhubarb slices, lemon juice, and sugar. Taste a strawberry. It should be very sweet but not cloyingly so. You want it to be very sweet so it balances the tartness of the rhubarb. Since it doesn’t sound so delicious to taste a piece of raw rhubarb, just go ahead and judge it off the strawberry. You can add a bit more lemon for tartness or a bit more sugar for sweetness, or a bit of both if you think it simply needs more of an exciting flavor.

Roll out the dough on a floured counter with a rolling pin, lightly flouring the top of the dough to ensure it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin. Roll to desired thin-ness. This is personal preference. I like the dough to be quite thin, but if you go too thin, it sometimes sticks to the counter a lot.

You can also use parchment paper as an aid to prevent sticking. I especially recommend this if you are new to pie-baking. What you would do is put parchment on the counter, then flour, then the dough ball, sprinkle with more flour, and top with another piece of parchment paper. This prevents the dough from sticking to the rolling pin or the counter as you get more practice learning how to roll it out and how much flour will make it the perfectly less-sticky-ness!

Once the dough is all rolled out, use the top of a large drinking glass to cut into rounds. Then take the scraps and smoosh them into approximate rounds. It doesn’t have to be perfect. If it were perfect, it would have come from the grocery store. Homemade looks cuter anyway!

Spray 2 large pyrex pans with non-stick butter-flavored spray, then dry off with a paper towel to remove excess so that the bottoms of the turnovers don’t taste too much like non-stick spray. This will be your friend when it comes time to get them out of the pan when there’s strawberry juice caramelizing all over the bottom of the dishes!

Place the rounds on the baking dish, then fill each with about 2 tsp to 1 tbsp of fruit filling. Fold them in half to make half-circle shape turnovers. Keep adding more to each baking dish as you fold more because they can be very close together — they won’t grow the way cookies do.

When all of your pastries are folded, take a brush like you would use to baste a turkey, except make sure it’s clean and doesn’t smell like gravy first! Dip it in the egg white, and brush the top of each pastry with the egg white. This will make the pastry extra golden-brown and extra-satisfyingly crunchy.

Note: If you have an egg allergy, use milk instead of the egg! Pour a tiny bowl of milk and brush that on. Any milk or Lactaid milk will do, although Whole Milk especially makes me smile because dairy fat is a good thing when it comes to baking πŸ™‚

Now sprinkle a tiny bit of the sugar on top of the turnovers to give it that extra pizzazz and sparkle. It really does look more beautiful with an extra pinch of sugar — Mary Poppins is always right!

Bake at 400 degrees. Every oven is different, and it will take between 30 to 45 minutes depending on your oven and the precise size of your turnovers.

You will know the moment they are done, because when you check on them every couple minutes starting at the 30 minute mark, they will suddenly call out to you at checking time “We look perfect!” If you’ve never made turnovers before, keep in mind that the perfect turnover appears completely golden brown without being burnt, and the strawberry juice has oozed out and begun to caramelize on the bottom of the baking dish.

Take the pans out of the oven and test one turnover from each pan with a fork to make sure the dough is baked all the way through. If it looks really stringy on the inner part of the dough, it needs to go back in the oven for a few more minutes. If your turnovers are perfectly browned but not cooked through, there are two ways you can problem-solve to prevent them from burning when you put them back in the oven: turn the temperature down to 375, or cover them with aluminum foil. Personally I prefer turning down the temperature in the oven and cooking for an additional 5 minutes, then checking again.

When you have achieved beauty and true love of strawberry turnovers, let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes so they don’t scorch your fingers, and then use a thin spatula to put them on a plate. You’ll want to do this because as they cool, they will stick to the bottom of the baking dish from all that strawberry juice!

Enjoy as is, or add whipped cream or ice cream. Buon appetito!

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