How to shape perfect turnovers: one simple tool does the trick

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Who doesn’t love a tender, buttery turnover, filled with berries or apples or peaches?

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Or, in the case of this Asian-style, Lunar New Year turnover, Gok Jai: peanuts and coconut and sesame?

Many of us bake pies – I mean, who doesn’t, at least at Thanksgiving? But when do we ever consider taking those exact same ingredients, and making take-along-friendly “personal” pies (a.k.a. turnovers)?

Probably never. Until lately, I hadn’t made a turnover in years.

And why not? Because it always seemed just a bit too fussy.

Cut the circles (who has a cutter that big?). Try to center the filling (or is it supposed to be off-center?) Paint the edges of the dough with beaten egg. Fold over and hope nothing squishes out.

Press to seal – only it seems I never pressed hard enough, or in the exact right spot, or perhaps my technique was wrong… at any rate, my turnovers inevitably turned into golden islands in a sea of  bubbling, puddled fruit juices; only parchment on the pan saved me from a major cleanup challenge.

But that was before I met this handy, inexpensive tool:

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The turnover maker.

I’m telling you, if you love pie (ergo, turnovers), you need to nab yourself one of these babies. Let me show you just how easy turnovers can be.

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Roll your pie crust into a large circle – for purposes of this Gok Jai recipe, I’ve made a 14″ round.

Flip open the turnover maker (a.k.a. dumpling press), and use its gently sharpened bottom to cut perfect circles. The set I use includes 4″, 5″, and 6″ presses; I’m using the 4″ press here.

By the way, don’t “gather and re-roll the scraps,” as you’d do with rollout cookie dough. Simply push them close to one another, and gently press their edges together; those last few turnovers you cut will be much more tender than they would had you given the dough a workout by squashing and re-rolling it.

Now, here comes the really easy part.

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Lay a dough circle onto the top of the press. Add 1 heaping tablespoon filling. Notice I’m not painting the edge of the dough with water or beaten egg – remember, my mantra is NO FUSS.

Close the press, and squeeze hard. Open the press: abracadabra! The perfectly shaped turnover.

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Lay the turnovers on a parchment-lined baking sheet. While I haven’t yet experienced any leakage with this press, I still use parchment just in case.

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Bake the turnovers until they’re golden. Transfer them to a rack to cool.

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Serve warm.

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Or not; these Gok Jai are good either way. Or so my husband attests – I didn’t have a single bite before he spirited them away to share with his fellow volunteer trail workers!

Speaking of, have you shared some of your baking bounty with your favorite volunteers lately? I just signed up to provide “finger desserts” for a book talk at our local library; something tells me turnovers might be on the menu…

Please read, bake, and review our recipe for Gok Jai.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Quinn

    SO glad you mentioned not re-rolling the scraps! That’s the kind of unfussy tip I really love :)
    I bought a set of the little presses to experiment making miniature pasties, but haven’t done it yet. Have you ever tried making those? Either the meat-and-veg or just veggie pasties?
    Thanks for all the helpful ideas and encouragement! I’ve subscribed for a while now, and have been baking more and more :)

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Quinn, so glad to hear we’re providing some inspiration for your baking – we love to teach, and we love to encourage. Baking is such a wonderfully sharing activity… I’ve never tried pasties, but I’m sure they’re not too difficult. I think the pastry is traditionally a little sturdier than what we’re used to, in order that they don’t get mashed in the lunch sack. Good luck – let us know how they come out. PJH

  2. Kathleen Burns

    Thanks for the tip on using the back of the turnover press to make the circles. I have many sizes of these presses, I usually make small meat pastries, but will now try this recipe. Thanks again!!
    Kathleen, Port St Lucie, Fl

    Reply
  3. Doris turlick

    Having problem with filling coming out when after closing the press the pastry splits at the back end. What am I doing wrong

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It could either be that you have a little too much filling in your turnover, or that the pastry is too dry. You might try “sealing” the pastry with a little egg yolk. ~Jaydl@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Ann, the mold I use is very slick plastic, and between any bits of leftover flour on the dough, and the smoothness of the mold, I’ve never had any problem with anything sticking. PJH

    1. katiu

      Dee – Just the cooker I was looking for (i.e. I was going to ask that)! Recipe please please please??? Thanks. Kathy H.

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Patricia, I guess I was too good a salesman today – we sold out of them. But we do stock turnover presses regularly, and they should be available again soon. Sorry for the delay – PJH

  4. Erin R.

    I love these little turnover machines! My husb and I have only ever used them to make potsticker dumplings, which come out perfect every time. They really are fast and simple to use and give such exceptional results. I’ll have to give the little turnover/hand pies a bash one of these days.

    Reply
  5. Sharon

    I’ve seen those and it looks like it would simplify things. We always called these fried pies, even if we stuck them in the oven. The only ones I have heard called Turn Overs were made with the phyllo pastry. How ever they are made, they are a convenient little pie to pack with lunch, or just a snack.

    Reply
  6. Mary Jane Newlon

    I have a set of those and have made cherry fried pies. What is that sugar you have on top of the pies? I thought about putting a glaze on them. What do you suggest?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Mary Jane, I sprinkled some coarse white sparkling sugar on top of some, plain granulated on others, and left the rest plain (always testing!) If you’d like to glaze, a simple confectioners’ sugar glaze is easy and would go well – sugar + enough liquid (ranging from water to juice to milk to heavy cream) to make it pourable. Good luck – PJH

  7. Karen

    Mmmm! I love turnovers, but don’t make them because of the muss and fuss.

    Could you make these up and freeze them, and then bring them out and cook up fresh? How much would I add to baking time? There are only 2 of us and a bunch of cooked turnovers would be a bit much.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Karen, you wouldn’t need to add much time at all – maybe a couple or 3 minutes? It’s surprising how quickly the oven heat penetrates and thaws the thin crust. Enjoy – PJH

  8. knhund

    Thank you for this wonderful blog! I have gotten a few of these presses lately but was a bit intimidated as I didn’t have a large cutter…OMG, it never even dawned on me to turn the press over. :) These are going to be fun!!!

    Reply
  9. Mary

    I too bought the set of pastry cutters, and I’ve had a lot of fun creating both dumplings and turnovers. (I like to try new foods et.al., and worked out the kinks with some new spices.) The house air, this time of year, is dry and warm (furnace.) Then there’s summer heat & humidity to deal with. I find that the dough turns out flakier and more evenly toasted when I put the turnover pastries in the freezer for 10-15 mins. before baking.

    Reply
  10. Kim

    It takes me about 20 min to fill and seal 40 dumplings with one of these presses. For ones that need a little water to seal I use a spray bottle of water.
    These presses can be used with all sorts of fillings and dough. They work for (modified) ravioli, potstickers, pierogi, pasties, etc. For dough, pie crust, puff, phyllo, wonton, potsticker, etc. Check out an Asian food store for frozen precut dough. The texture isn’t the same as pie crust, but it depends on what you like.

    Reply
  11. Tom Garbacik

    I had a set of three presses a while back. I’m not sure what I was doing wrong, but the results were an unmitigated disaster. The edges wouldn’t seal, the press wouldn’t cut the circle, the dough stuck to the press…….

    I think the presses ended up at the Animal Shelter thrift store. I kinda wish I’d kept them so that I could try again.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Tom, we wish you kept your set of presses too! If you ever have another unmitigated baking disaster (or something less dramatic), please know that the Baker’s Hotline is here to help when things in the kitchen don’t work out the way you had hoped. We’re here Monday-Friday 8AM-9PM EST and on weekends from 9AM-5PM at 855-371-2253.

      In case you do stumble across another set of presses, try spraying the presses themselves with non-stick spray (like our Everbake Pay spray, if you want guaranteed non-sticking action). You can also try dusting the dough slightly with flour, but not too much because you want to be able to create that seal around the edge. Right before pressing, try running a pastry brush dipped in egg wash or even a (clean) wet finger around the outside rim of the dough circle. It will rehydrate the dough a bit and “wake-up” the gluten so that it creates a sealed edge, leaving the deliciousness inside. Hopefully this inspires you to give turnovers another go! Good luck and happy baking! –Kye@KAF

  12. Penny

    Another nifty tool. I have a set of your pie dams and use them every time I have a pie. Wonderful little tool for helping to keep the edges of the cut pie fresh! I also LOVE the biscuit cutter that is 6 hexagonal shapes all together. Best biscuit cutter ever!!! Thank you KAF for everything you do!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Penny–thanks for sharing your baking success with us! The pie dam is a savior for when the deliciousness of the filling just wants to seep out of the crust. We want to keep it in there to enjoy later (for breakfast?!). We hope you continue to make pies and biscuits, whatever shape they may be, with such enthusiasm. Happy baking! –Kye@KAF

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