There's a lot to love about these fall turnovers. They're packed with all the great flavor of an apple pie, they're fun for young chefs to make, and their portability makes them a perfect snack for brown-bag lunches and weekend hikes.
TIP: Best Baking Apples
In a pinch, almost any apple will do when you're making turnovers -- or pie, for that matter. But we think the following are particularly good choices. Because freshly picked apples are the juiciest and most flavorful, we recommend picking your own or buying them from a farm stand.
Granny Smith: Tart, juicy, and aromatic, Grannies are one of the most flavorful apples for baking. Cortland: These apples are tarter when fresh but grow sweeter with age. They offer a nice flavor when baked. Golden Delicious: They hold their shape well but can be a bit bland. Lemon juice perks them right up.
Measure the flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut or rub the butter and shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles crumbs.
Blend the water and sour cream in a measuring cup. Pour half of the liquid over the dry ingredients and toss the mixture with a fork to combine. Add the remaining liquid and continue mixing until the dough coheres. If the dough seems too dry, add more water 2 teaspoons at a time.
Divide the dough in half. Knead each piece once or twice on a lightly floured countertop or piece of waxed paper, then set each on a separate long sheet of plastic wrap. Shape each half into a square about 3/4 inch thick and wrap it in the plastic. Refrigerate the dough for about an hour.
For the filling, combine the apples, orange juice, sugars, and butter in a medium-size nonstick saucepan. Bring the mixture to a low boil over medium-high heat, then cover the pan and boil gently for 3 to 4 minutes.
As the apple mixture cooks, combine the cornstarch, water, and spices in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture to the apples and cook the filling at a low boil, stirring often, for another minute.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the filling to a shallow casserole dish. Cool completely (about 30 minutes), then stir in the apricot preserves, if desired, for an added tang.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment and set it aside. (This eases cleaning if the juices leak.) Working with one piece at a time, use a flour-dusted rolling pin to roll the dough into an 11 1/2-inch square on a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper. (If the pin sticks, dust the dough with more flour.) Square up the edges with a pastry wheel, pizza cutter, or sharp knife. Cut the dough into 4 equal squares, fill them (see "How to Fill a Turnover" below), and place them on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Repeat with the remaining dough, adding those turnovers to the baking sheet. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Heat the oven to 375°. Meanwhile, brush the turnovers sparingly with milk, then generously sprinkle on sugar. Using a fork, poke each once or twice so steam will be able to escape.
Bake the turnovers on the center oven rack until golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. For more even browning, turn the sheet 180 degrees about halfway through the baking.
Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let the turnovers cool at least 30 minutes before serving (or the filling will be too hot to eat). Makes 8 turnovers.
How to Fill a Turnover
Spoon 3 heaping tablespoons of filling onto the dough, leaving a good 3/4-inch border along the edge of the square. Moisten the edges of the dough with a wet finger or pastry brush.
Fold the dough diagonally over the filling, lining up the edges and pressing them together. Seal the turnovers by crimping the edges of the dough with the tines of a fork. Besides keeping the filling inside, this will give the turnover a nice decorative edge.