Bread Savory

Savory Turnovers – Little Women inspired

With an herbed, cheesy dough and a mushroom filling, these savory turnovers are perfect for breakfast, lunch, or a game-day appetizer.

Little Women is one of the most well-loved books on my shelf. For several years during my childhood, I would pull out my immense hardback edition on Thanksgiving night to begin an annual re-read. I loved diving into the story about four sisters, with its heartwarming and sometimes bittersweet themes. I love Alcott’s descriptions of everyday life for the March sisters – including Hannah’s savory turnovers – and knew that they had to be part of our bookish bakes series.

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These mushroom turnovers are my take on what the March sisters would have used to warm both their hands and their bellies on cold winter mornings. True, Ms. Alcott does not specify whether the turnovers Hannah served were savory or sweet. But she does mention that Jo and Meg would eat them for lunch, and I like to think that turnovers would be filled with something robust that would keep the girls’ energy up throughout the day.

Several savory turnovers - golden triangular pockets, with obvious cheese in the dough - sit in a white bowl and on a wooden surface. An old copy of Little Women sits adjacent to the turnovers, open to the chapter "Burdens".

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Jo laughed, Meg scolded, Beth implored, and Amy wailed, because she couldn’t remember how much nine times twelve was. . . There was a momentary lull, broken by Hannah, who stalked in, laid two hot turn-overs on the table, and stalked out again. These turnovers were an institution; and the girls called them “muffs” for they had no others, and found the hot pies very comforting to their hands on cold mornings. Hannah never forgot to make them, no matter how busy or grumpy she might be, for the walk was long and bleak; the poor things had no other lunch, and were seldom home before two.

Little Women, chapter 4, Louisa May Alcott

My savory turnover recipe is adapted from The Little Women Cookbook. I loved that author’s idea of using a cheesy crust for these mini hand pies; while her recipe is probably more accurate to the Civil War era, my version fit a little better with my own family’s tastes. Instead of her jam filling, you’ll see below that I recommend a filling of sautéed onions, mushrooms, and garlic. Even though I heavily altered this recipe. I do highly recommend The Little Women cookbook, as it offers a host of other excellent recipes inspired by the classic tome.

I was thrilled with how these savory turnovers turned out. My husband described them as “Like those cheddar bay biscuits from Red Lobster, but with a mushroom filling,”. While you could be like the March sisters and enjoy them for breakfast or lunch, they also make a fantastic appetizer for a dinner party. I brought these mushroom turnovers as a treat during an evening of football and friends, and there were a hit – none were left at the end of the night.

Ingredients

For the turnover dough itself, you’ll need:

  • All purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Milk

We’re also going to make a basic onion and mushroom filling for these savory turnovers. For that, you’ll need:

  • Crimini mushrooms
  • An onion
  • Avocado oil
  • Minced garlic

If you’re not a fan of mushrooms, you could fill these tiny hand pies with scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, more cheese…really, the possibilities are endless!

Several triangular mushroom turnovers sit piled in a bowl lined with white cloth.

How to make savory turnovers

Whisk together the flour, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and use a pastry blender to combine it with your dry ingredients. You could choose to use a food processor for this step, but it didn’t feel like it fit as well with the Civil War-era theme.

Mix cheddar cheese into the flour mixture before adding the milk. Briefly knead the dough until the ingredients are completely combined and no dry spots remain. Avoid overworking the dough!

Form the dough into a disc, envelop it in plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

While the dough is resting, make your mushroom filling. Place avocado oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until translucent. (If you want to add extra flavor, continue sautéing the onions until they are caramelized.)

Once the onions are translucent, add the mushrooms and cook until they are soft and have released all of their juices. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, until aromatic. Remove this mixture from the heat and allow to cool.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into squares that are roughly 3 inches in diameter. Place a teaspoon of the mushroom mixture into the center of each square.

Press down the edges of each turnover, ensuring a good seal, and cut a couple of vent holes into the upper surface. Transfer your sealed turnovers to a prepared baking sheet.

Bake the turnovers for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees F, until the tops have turned golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

Make sure you let your mushroom turnovers rest for 10-20 minutes before digging in. Just as was described in the book, these turnovers hold onto their heat, and the filling will be extremely hot if you eat them too quickly!

Whether you’re serving these turnovers with a bowl of tomato soup, for a literary-themed party, or you’re just using them to keep your hands warm, I hope they turned out well. If you made them at home, feel free to tag @WhiskAverseBaking in your social media posts, or leave a message in the comments below. You can also click the “Pin Recipe” button to save this recipe for later.

Savory Cheddar Turnovers

With an herbed, cheesy dough and a mushroom filling, these savory turnovers are perfect for breakfast, lunch, or a game-day appetizer.
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Resting time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hrs
Course Appetizer, Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 24 turnovers

Ingredients
  

Turnovers

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter cold
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 9 tablespoons milk
  • ½ cup mushroom filling

Mushroom Filling

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion diced
  • 4 oz. crimini mushrooms diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

Instructions
 

  • Whisk together flour, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Cut the butter into cubes and use a pastry blender to combine it with your dry ingredients.
  • Mix cheddar cheese into the flour mixture before adding the milk.
  • Briefly knead the dough into a ball, until the ingredients are completely combined and no dry spots remain. Avoid overworking the dough!
  • Form the dough into a disc, envelop it in plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  • While the dough is resting, make your mushroom filling. Place avocado oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté. until translucent. Once the onions are translucent, add the mushrooms and cook until they are soft and have released all of their juices. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, until aromatic. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.
  • Cut the dough into roughly 3-inch diameter squares. Place a teaspoon of the mushroom mixture into the center of each square.
  • Press down the edges of each turnover ensuring a good seal. Transfer your sealed turnovers to a prepared baking sheet.
  • Cut small vent holes into the top of each turnover and brush the top of each turnover with additional egg wash.
  • Bake the turnovers for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees F, until the tops have turned golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Keyword cheddar, cheese, hand pie, mushroom, savory, turnovers

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