A Guilty Pleasure at Home: BraveTart's Homemade McDonald's-Style Baked Apple Turnovers

McDonald's is a guilty pleasure that I still indulge in from time to time, most frequently when I'm at LAX waiting for a flight. But it's been years since I've had a McDonald's apple or cherry pie. I loved them as a kid and and I fondly remember when they were still fried instead of baked. Still, I very much looked forward to trying Stella Parks' "Homemade McDonald's-Style Baked Apple Turnovers" from BraveTart.

Stella uses both fresh apples and ground freeze-dried apples in her turnovers, because the freeze-dried fruit absorbs liquid from the apples, prevents the crust from getting soggy, and adds more apple flavor. The turnovers are wrapped in Stella's easy and reliable no-stress all-butter pastry crust that has never failed me. One recipe of pie crust yields enough dough to make ten turnovers; I rolled and cut the dough into ten 5-inch by 6-inch rectangles that I chilled while preparing the filling.

To make the filling, you grind freeze-dried apples with sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor; toss the mixture with diced apples (I used Golden Delicious); and add melted butter, molasses, and lemon juice. I enclosed filling inside each piece of dough, crimped the edges shut, and chilled the turnovers for a few hours before baking. Before putting them in the oven, I brushed the turnovers with water and sprinkled on cinnamon sugar. You're supposed to cut vents in each turnover before baking, but I accidentally skipped this step.
A few of my turnovers had a bit of filling that spilled out of the seam as they baked; I don't know if cutting vents would have helped prevent this from happening (but maybe it was my subpar crimping skills). The crust was quite dark because of the cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top. I was delighted that as promised, the filling was nice and thick, and the crust was not soggy at all. However, while the crust was super flaky, I was a little disappointed that it was not as crispy as it's been when I've made Stella's crust recipe before -- but the fact that I didn't cut vents in the turnovers might have been the source of this problem.

My verdict on these turnovers is that they're delicious, but other than the general physical resemblance, I wouldn't say that they remind me that much of a McDonald's pie. Stella instructs you to cut the apples into quarter-inch dice, which is so small that the apples didn't have much texture in the baked turnover. I seem to recall larger pieces of apple in the McDonald's version. Also, McDonald's pies are always served piping hot, which is a different eating experience. But whether or not these could pass for the fast-food version that inspired them, I would never turn down one of these turnovers.

Recipe: "Homemade McDonald's-Style Baked Apple Turnovers" from BraveTart by Stella Parks.