The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry & Coconut Turnovers

“She hands me an index card. It’s her recipe for those coconut turnovers I remember so well. I can taste them just reading the words. All handwritten, copied in a careful hand in deep black ink.” ~The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

Coconut Turnovers



2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 oz cold butter (unsalted)

1/4 cup white granulated sugar

4 teaspoons instant yeast

1 cup warm milk

1/3 cup sugar water (dissolve sugar in water)

Brown Sugar


2 cups grated or shredded coconut (fresh or frozen, not dried)

3/4 cup white granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon almond essence


  1. Mix the flour and salt, then cut in the cold butter until you have a breadcrumb-like consistency.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the white sugar, yeast and milk
  3. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry, mixing for form a dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board and knead gently for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, leave somewhere warm and let rise for about 1 hour (the dough should double in size)
  5. Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl, stirring well so that the sugar begins to dissolve and the mixture is moist. Set aside.
  6. Punch down the risen dough and lightly knead it for half a minute. Cut the dough into equal pieces. With each piece, roll into a 3-inch circle, place a heaping tablespoon of the filling in the center; spread the filling out to 1/2-inch from the edges. Lift one end of the dough to the other, folding and sealing the ends together. Form into a loaf shape.
  7. Place each turnover on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, seam-side down. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
  8. Brush turnovers with sugar water and sprinkle with brown sugar, then place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F. After 18 minutes, brush again with sugar water, sprinkle with more brown sugar, and allow to bake for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes.

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