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
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!