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How to Make Amazing Little Pies

As teenagers, my friends and I would wander to the corner store after school and before the bus came.  We were ravenous by 3:30 but I only remember buying two things: ice cream sandwiches and those scrumptious little turnover pies.  I only bought berry and lemon.  Lemon was my favorite.  I think Hostess® made them.

I now work for The Prepared Pantry where we have a test kitchen and develop really good stuff like this.  After talking about these little pies, we decided that we wanted a copycat recipe—something just as good as the pies we remember as kids and easy to make.  So we went to work in our test kitchen.  We expected the fruit filling pies to be easy; we weren’t so sure about lemon and other pudding fillings. 

We were surprised how easy they were—even the pudding-filled pies.  The consensus was that they were much better than the originals.  Every batch was inhaled by our testers.

And they really are easy to make.  The dough is easy (you can even use premade dough from the store) and the filling is simply pudding made from store mixes or canned pie filling from the store.  Even instant pudding works.   

You only need three things to make these scrumptious little pies . . .

You’ll need a filling.  Most cooked pie fillings work.  Fruit pie fillings work.  Cream pie fillings work.  Uncooked pie fillings such as custard, including pumpkin, do not work. 

You’ll need a dough for the crust.  Any pie crust recipe or dough will work.  Our favorite was a recipe for a sour cream crust and we’ll include that recipe later.

And you’ll need a dough press.  Actually, you can get by without a dough press but it helps, especially when using puddings for fillings.  The dough press cups the dough leaving a bowl in which to place your filling.  And it makes folding and sealing easy. 


. . . and four steps. 

There are four easy steps to making your pies: roll out the dough, add the filling, bake the pies, and glaze them.  It’s easy and it doesn’t take long.

Step 1—roll and cut the dough:  Roll the dough out until it is no thicker than 1/4 inch—a little thinner is perfect.  Using your dough press or a lid from a pan, cut the dough into six-inch circles.

Step 2—Add the filling:  For the filling, use either a fruit filling—a commercially canned one works fine—or pudding for a cream filling.  We used Jell-O® brand pudding mixes in both instant and cooked varieties.   Both worked.  The cooked pudding seemed to set up a little more.  The cooked pudding is less likely to leak during baking if you cool it for an hour before using it. 

We made lemon turnovers, banana cream turnovers, and chocolate turnovers as well as fruit-filled turnovers. 

Place a dough circle on the dough press.  The dough will follow the bowl-shaped contour of the press.  Place 1/4 cup filling in the formed bowl.  Brush the edges of the dough with a little water to help create a seal.  Using the dough press, fold the dough over to make a turnover and press firmly to seal.  (A good seal is necessary so that the filling does not leak out.)  Repeat with the other circles.

Step 3—Bake the pies:  Place the turnovers on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake in your preheated oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.  Remove the pan from the oven and remove the turnovers to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.

 Step 4—Glaze the pies:  Make a glaze from powdered sugar and water.  One cup powdered sugar is about right for this size recipe.  Add enough water, about 1 1/2 tablespoons, to reach drizzling consistency and brush the glaze on the tops of the turnovers while still warm. 

Fruit filled turnovers can be served warm.  Cream filled turnovers should be cooled to let the filling become firmer.  Most cream filled turnovers should be refrigerated. 

Oh, and that sour cream crust recipe we promised . . .

We have used this recipe for piroshki, pies, and turnovers.  It is excellent, makes a very workable dough, and is not difficult.    It’s a perfect, pastry-like dough for these little pies.

3-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream 

1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a bowl.  Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and add it to the flour.  Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry knife until it is the consistency of oatmeal.

2. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sour cream together until it is smooth. 

3. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir into a mass.  Remove the dough ball to a floured counter and knead just until smooth so as not to develop the gluten in the flour.  Cover the dough ball and chill it in the refrigerator for an hour. 

There you have it, an easy way to make amazingly good little turnover pies.   

You can get the dough press used in this article for only $1.00—less than half price--at the Prepared Pantry.

Dennis Weaver is the author of How to Bake, a 250 page baking book available free online. The Prepared Pantry sells over 50 bread machine mixes, ingredients, and kitchen supplies. 

Copyright The Prepared Pantry and Dennis Weaver, 2008.  Used with permission.