Vanessa Levis

A square or circle of pastry folded over a filling, a turnover is quicker and easier to make than a pie, is portable and is a treat for many occasions. Serve turnovers, large or small, sweet or savoury, as a main course or dessert, for picnics, packed lunches or as nibbles with drinks. Use plain or sweet shortcrust pastry, cream cheese or sour cream pastry, commercial or homemade flaky pastry or, speediest of all, frozen ready-rolled sheets of puff pastry. Turnovers can be baked or deep-fried. The filling must be completely cold when the pastry is folded around it.


Quantity Ingredient
1 quantity Plain shortcrust pastry
or Cream cheese pastry
or Sour cream pastry
or Rough puff pastry
or 375g packet frozen puff pastry, thawed, filling of your choice (see below)
lightly beaten egg or egg white
caster sugar, (for sweet turnovers only)


  1. Roll out dough 5 mm thick and cut it into squares or circles of desired size. Mound your chosen cold filling (see Note) in the centre of one-half of each piece of pastry (if using squares of pastry, mound the filling in a corner so you end up with a triangular turnover.) Do not overfill; use about 1 1/2 tablespoons filling for 10 cm turnovers, 1 tablespoon filling for 8 cm turnovers.
  2. Brush the edges with beaten egg or egg white, fold the other half over and press edges to seal.
  3. If using rough puff pastry, lightly tap the cut edges. If using shortcrust, cream cheese or sour cream pastry, press around the sealed edges with the tines of a fork or the point of a teaspoon for a decorative effect.
  4. Place the turnovers on greased baking trays and chill for 20 minutes. Brush with beaten egg white, then sprinkle over caster sugar for sweet turnovers. Cut 2 or 3 slits in the top of each turnover to allow steam to escape then bake in a preheated oven until the pastry is golden brown. Bake shortcrust, rough puff or puff pastry turnovers at 200°C and cream cheese or sour cream pastry turnovers at 190°C.

Sweet fillings for basic turnovers

  • Fruit

    Use apples or pears, stewed or thinly sliced and sprinkled with sugar and lemon juice; or use berries or other fresh or canned fruits. Drain canned fruits well.

    Dried fruit

    Use Fruit Mincemeat or raisins, sultanas or mixed dried fruit, sprinkled with brown sugar and lemon juice.

    Cream cheese or ricotta

    Use cream cheese, or ricotta cheese mixed with a little cream. Sweeten to taste with brown or white sugar, then add your choice of flavourings: ground cinnamon, cardamom or mixed spice, brandy or rum, chopped dried or glacé fruits, grated orange or lemon rind.

    Jam or lemon curd

    Use a good berry jam, apricot jam (which may be mixed with slivered almonds), marmalade sprinkled with cinnamon or a few drops of orange liqueur, or Lemon Butter.
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