Monday, May 2, 2011

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls, wearing her "lunatic fringe" bangs, as Ma disdainfully called them. They were all the rage, and she curled them with a heated pencil.

I love the Little House series of books. I love them so much I want to marry them, and I seriously considered the name Laura when I was pregnant with my daughter. I have read the entire series of 9 books straight through no less than 20 times and my dream vacation is to Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri. My family does not care to join me.

If you know this series, you know a lot of time is spent on lengthy descriptions of food, which happens to be one of my very favorite subjects. Recently, I came across a "Little House" cookbook by Barbara M. Walker at the library and was excited to find the apple turnovers from Farmer Boy featured.

"At noontime everyone was allowed to move about the schoolroom and talk quietly. Eliza Jane opened the dinner-pail on her desk. It held bread-and-butter and sausage, doughnuts and apples, and four delicious apple-turnovers, their plump crusts filled with melting slices of apple and spicy brown juice."
-Excerpt from Farmer Boy

The recipe for the apple turnovers starts by talking about the crust, and how Mother Wilder (mother of Farmer Boy Almanzo) would probably have made puff pastry, but the cookbook authors recommend ordinary pie crust "to those who have not developed the puff-pastry knack." Sounds like a challenge to me. Puff pastry it is.

Apple Turnovers
1 1/4 cup white flour
1/2 tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. lard (Ugh. Let's do butter instead)

Mix flour and salt (I went modern and used my food processor.). Add butter, cut into small chunks and process until the mixture is uniformly coarse. Add 3 Tbsp. ice water. Press the dough into a ball and chill.

To make it puff pastry:
Divide 6 Tbsp. butter into thirds. Roll the dough into a rectangle roughly 5 x 15 x 1/8 inch thick. Take a third of the butter in your fingers and pinch off small pieces. Cover the rectangle with these butter dots, except around the edges.

Fold the short ends of the dough toward the center, overlapping them like a business letter. Press gently and fold pastry in half the other way. If pastry has broken anywhere, patch it by wetting the surfaces to be joined (the crust won't puff if hot air escapes).

Roll the dough out again to a rectangle and repeat the buttering and folding operations. Chill dough again before rolling to a rectangle the third time. Once more knead the butter, dot the dough with it, and fold. Chill if dough begins to warm. Roll folded dough into rectangle 5 x 15

Apple Filling:
2 tart apples
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Peel, core, and slice apples into small dice. Mix with sugar and spices. Divide dough into 5 sections. Cut and roll out a little more, then put about 3 Tbsp. apples in center of dough. Fold into a triangle and seal edges with water (I crimped them with a fork as well).

The book says to fry the turnovers and then dust them with powdered sugar, but I brushed them with melted butter, sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar, and then baked them in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.

I am not a fan of cooked fruit but these turnovers were great. The pastry was what made them.

Check out the puff in that pastry!


  1. Love Little House! Transports me instantly back to my younger years...I wanted to live in that house and run through those fields :)

    A recipe book inspired by Little House, you say? Sounds wonderful! {as does that apple goodies you whipped up!}

    xx Cat brideblu

  2. I never read the books, but watched the TV series religiously! Love the bangs and her early curling iron!!!

  3. I have read all those books more times than I can count. I'm a SD farm girl and have been to DeSmet several times (little town on the prairie, long winter, shores of silver lake, these happy golden years) I have seen their houses,Pa's fiddle and more and been in Loftus's store! I played "Laura Ingalls" with my sisters and cousins out in the pastures before the show even came out! I have yet to make it to Mansfield though. I love Laura and her books!

  4. I love the Little House books! Always have.

    And...those look way too good!

  5. We drove by her house on the way across the country. It is so beautiful there and I was transported back in time.

  6. I have never read the books...I should do that! The turnovers look sooooo good. My dear husband would love these!

  7. To all of you who have been to Rocky Ridge/DeSmet...LUCKY!!!

  8. Wow, looks like you got the puff pastry down to perfection ... look at all those thin, flaky layers just like the ones that fancy, high-end bakeries make.

  9. I love those books so much! I read them all as a little girl about 20 times, and just bought the set again for my daughter. Farmer boy had the best food of all them.

  10. Oh my gosh, those looks SO delicious! Might have to try it, although my baking skills are not the best...:]

    Julie (I'm having a giveaway!)

  11. I love those books too... Unfortunately Liv doesn't share my love of them, however we've worked our way through a few of them. I think I'm going to have to try again!!
    Love the turnovers, you can't go wrong with apple. Nicely done!!

  12. Okay, Jan. You win everything. I've never had the nerve to try puff pastry. That looks good.

  13. Growing up, my sister was obsessed with Little House on the Prairie, I watched it too, but wasn't an addict like she was. Somewhat random, but I've been to some areas outside of LA where they filmed the show, I got to see J.Lo record a music video there. It was neat to see some of the old barns left from the show.

  14. Hi Janet,
    Wendy (uucsc) here. I'm kinda stalking you a little bit.
    My older daughter and I read the series - and also The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew - during her 2nd grade year. We traveled the Laura Ingalls Wilder historical highway all that summer and even stayed in a sod house! Such wonderful memories. She's coming home from college in a few weeks, I think I'll surprise her with your turnovers. Yum.
    PS why are you reading comments when there is work to be done? ((<3))