Rhubarb Turnovers

24 August 2011
by Phuoc

I’ve never worked with rhubarb before; it may or may not have been due to the fact that their leaves are poisonous. During my first year of uni, I remember talking tactics to a friend about how to get rid of a stalker guy who was obsessed and madly in love with her; I had joked about feeding him rhubarb leaves (I know it’s just plain right mean but I’d never follow through with it). That was about 5 years ago.. It was only recently that I finally decide to cook with it, I simply couldn’t resist the vibrant red hues.

Still not knowing 100% what to make, I sent out a tweet to get some ideas following, jams and pastries seemed to be the most common ideas. I love the thought of making jams but I’m still a little paranoid about the entire sterilisation process of the jars; maybe it’s the scientist in me, but I’d hate for food to spoil due to mould and improper sterilisation.. Maybe I should use an autoclave to ease my doubts; or even use the pressure cooker – if anyone has done this please let me know.

So I decided to make pastries instead as it is something I know I’ll be more confident with. I came across a recipe for blueberry hand pies and thought to myself that I could make these with rhubarb instead. When filling the dough with the rhubarb mixture, don’t be tempted to overfill because when you fold the dough there will be an overflow of rhubarb mixture oozing out from the edges; which makes for an untidy work bench and possible exploding turnovers. Speaking of which, one way to prevent your turnovers from exploding is by making small splits in the dough once the edges are sealed and brushed ; this is to ensure that steam can escape from the pastry. I didn’t do this so some cracked and slightly exploded.. Whoops!

As I was thinking of sharing these turnovers with friends, I thought the only way they’d enjoy these would be to have them warm and straight out of the oven. Obviously by the time I would give theses out, they probably won’t be as warm anymore so I decided to wrap each turnover separately in a make-do paper parcel, freeze them and provide brief instructions on how to prepare them.

The slightly tangy and sweet rhubarb filling is mellowed out by the buttery and crispy pastry; these treats are best served warm.


Adapted from The Pastry Affair

Makes ~16 individual turnovers


Pate brisee

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

225g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

1/4 cup ice water

Rhubarb filling

3 rhubarb stalks (220g), roughly sliced

1/2 cup sugar

3 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp lemon zest

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup water


1 egg yolk

Raw or demerara sugar, for garnish


For the pate brisee (to be made at least an hourin advanced)

  1. Mix flour, salt, and sugar until combined.
  2. Add the chilled, cubed butter and rub or blend the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse sand.
  3. Add ice water and mix together until the dough holds together when squeezed. (Avoid overmixing! If needed, add more ice water by the tablespoon until the dough reaches this consistency.)
  4. Form dough into 2 logs, wrap individually in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using. (Dough may be stored up to 1 month when frozen.)

For the rhubarb filling

  1. Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, coat the rhubarb with lemon juice. Sprinkle on the sugar mixture and stir until the rhubarb is evenly coated.
  3. Add water to the saucepan and cook the mixture on medium heat for 10 minutes until rhubarb has soften slightly. Set aside to cool.


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk with two tablespoons water (or milk).
  2. Roll out chilled pie dough to a thickness of 3mm (1/8 inch). Cut out circles approximately 15cm (6 inches) in diameter.
  3. Brush egg wash on edge of dough circles, fill center of dough circle with 1 tablespoon of cooled rhubarb filling, fold dough in half, and seal the edges with a fork.
  4. Chill turnovers for at least 1/2 hour before baking.
  5. Preheat oven to 190C (375F).
  6. Remove pies from refrigerator and brush with remaining egg wash. Sprinkle on sugar and cut a small slit in the top of each pie to let out steam (this is important, as I didn’t do this some of the turnovers exploded).
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until pies are golden brown and flaky. Either serve warm or cool.
  8. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Print this recipe


  1. Helen (grabyourfork)

    Yum yum what a gorgeous idea. Love the packaging and stickered instructions! And any leakage just means it looks rustic imho πŸ™‚

  2. Paige Matthews

    Wow! I’ve never thought about this — I guess it’s because I’ve never ventured out on using rhubarb before as they are poisonous as hell (the leaves, that is). Thanks for sharing it here! We’ve tried making turn-overs before out of grounded meat and it also exploded, lol πŸ˜€ The experience was still fun, though.

  3. nic@diningwithastud

    Wgat a great gift idea πŸ™‚ such cute tape too!! Love the look of these so vibrant and yummy!

  4. Lil

    That’s so sweet! The packages looks really cute. I love the patterned sticky tape.

  5. Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi

    You are too sweet! I’d love to have a friend like you hand over some ready to bake home-made treats. I don’t cook with rhubarb but agree it has a certain allure ..

  6. chocolatesuze

    ooh baked goods as pressies is a fab idea *cough*wheresmine*cough*

  7. Richard Elliot

    They look great! My mum is the only other person I know to say rhubarb leaves are poisonous, so I’m glad it’s not just her!

    I’ve never cooked with rhubarb either, but my sister is coming to visit in three weeks and she loves the stuff. I’ve been thinking I should try to cook some as a treat for her.

    After months of deliberations I ordered myself a food mixer this morning. Hopefully that will up my baking / bread making.

  8. Erin@TheFoodMentalist

    Oh how delightful! what a fantastic idea to share them πŸ™‚

  9. Phuoc

    Helen: Thanks! I think the packages look pretty good if I have to say so myself πŸ™‚ Whilst leakage is ok for rustic look, it’s not so when I’m trying to shape the pastries and the mixture oozes out everywhere :S

    Paige: It’s so funny how there are a decent number of people who haven’t really touched rhubarb because of its poisonous nature (even though it’s just the leaves). My bf pointed this out to me the other day; he asked “If the leaves are poisonous, then why do the supermarkets still sell them with some of the leaves attached?” and he does have a point to it. What if people don’t know…? However! I just did a search and it appears that you would have to eat like 5kgs of leaves for it to have a lethal effect on you.

    Nic: Thank you!

    Lil: Thanks. The tapes are called Japanese washi tape

    Keely: Awww thanks! πŸ™‚

    Chocolatesuze: XD I’ll have to make you some edible gifts next time!

    Richard: Well the are somewhat poisonous but you’d only have to eat 5kgs of leaves for it be be lethal! But apparently they taste unpleasant anyway so you’d probably wouldn’t want to eat it… I think if you make these in advance for her they should go down a treat and especially since you now have a food mixer, it would be much easier πŸ™‚ (Although I prefer mixing pastry dough by hand rather than using a food processor)

    Erin: Thanks, just sharing the love πŸ™‚

  10. Dollyq


    Ive never cooked with Rhubarb before.. i guess its so foriegn to viets haha…

    BUt i definitely enjoy rhubarb and apple crumbled!

    hope ure eating well Phuoc πŸ™‚

  11. JasmyneTea

    LOVE rhubarb! Especially in a pie with apple. Well done, your pastry looks great!

  12. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    What a clever idea packaging these up like that! I know my freezer is full of mystery items that need better labelling!

  13. Jenny

    aw what a treat for your friends and a really good idea with the packaging. Definitely should do that as a XMAS treat or something πŸ™‚

  14. Paula

    These turnovers look finger-licking good! Can’t wait to try them soon!! πŸ˜€

  15. muppy

    hahaha that is very funny, as a fellow scientist i have to confess your ‘sterilising’ packaging turned me off a little….

  16. sara @ Belly Rumbles

    I think you made the perfect choice on what to cook with your rhubarb. Something different to jam and crumble. They look so cute and when packaged, too cute for words? I agree with Suze,*cough*wheresmine+pout*cough*:p

  17. veggie mama

    I love the idea of freezing them separately … the tape is gorgeous! I probably would have made an apple and rhubarb crumble, or pie. I love the mini-sizes of these though πŸ™‚

  18. Nhung

    Hi Phuoc!! hehehe. I got to eat some and they were yummy! The pastry was very crispy and the rhubarb kinda sweet and a little sour but very nice =)

  19. Phuoc

    Dollyq: You should definitely try cooking with rhubarb, it’s not hard at all! πŸ™‚

    JasmyneTea: There’s something so comforting about apples and rhubarb, I guess it’s because they are always paired up in crumbles/pies

    Lorraine & Jenny: Thanks!

    Paula: Thanks! I hope you like them πŸ™‚

    Muppy: How so?

    Sara: Awww thanks! I’ll have to make you some next time πŸ™‚

    Veggie mama: That’s why I made them, so that they are individualised

    Nhung: Glad you liked them! πŸ™‚

  20. Kim

    Mmm rhubarb:)
    I made stewed apple and rhubarb last night. It’s so yummy and so simple…oh and healthy! πŸ™‚ I’m looking forward to breakfast tomorrow:)

  21. Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul

    Beautiful Phuoc! I only recently experimented cooking with rhubarb and I love it. Your pastries look awesome and I have to say that packaging is very cute and creative!

  22. mademoiselle dΓ©licieuse

    I don’t mind explodey pastry, and I reckon you should totally have a jam-making day in the lab! Sterilised jars, rhubarb cooked in a water bath…

  23. Phuoc

    Kim: Cool

    Peter: Thank you! I love the vibrant colour and the tart/sweet flavour that rhubarb provides. Can’t believe I haven’t cooked with it earlier

    Mademoiselle dΓ©licieuse: Oh heck yes!! I swear I want to pry into the liquid nitrogen canister to make alcoholic sorbets!

  24. Martyna (Wholesome Cook)

    I’m not the biggest fan of rhubarb, but like the idea of the turnvers actually… And your presentation of the turnover parcels to gift to friends is extremely cute! <3

  25. Lisa

    Absolutely gorgeous turnovers, and your photos are beautiful. I’ve never ‘really’ tried rhubarb (A nibble doesn’t count lol), but when I see it in a flaky and delicious looking preparation like yours – I crave it! Bring on the rhubarb! πŸ˜‰

  26. Paula

    Phuoc, the turnovers were delicious! Had them with vanilla ice cream and they were so good! It was the first time that I tried rhubard too and I love its rich colour πŸ™‚

  27. Phuoc

    Martyna: Thanks! I guess you can substitute the rhubarb for any other fruit that you fancy eg apples, pears, pums etc πŸ™‚

    Lisa: Thank you πŸ™‚

    Paula: I’m glad you enjoyed them!

  28. Trisha

    That’s some beautiful packaging! I must sit down and speak with you – I’m thinking of doing this as packaging for my wedding give aways! The turnovers look fabulous as well… I’m scared to cook with rhubarb though (I dunno how to prepare them!) LOL

  29. Adrian (Food Rehab)

    Ha! Love the packaging you’ve crafted here- very creative yet practical too :O

  30. Phuoc

    Trisha: Awww hand-made gifts at weddings are a nice touch I think, it shows the couple care about their guest (and that they are crazy enough to manage to make something ;P) Rhubarb is actually pretty easy to cook with, you kinda treat it like you would with any other fruit I guess..

    Adrian: Thanks dude πŸ™‚

  31. LAGraham

    Am I the only one that noticed some of the time you still had “blueberries” as the recipe ingredient? πŸ™‚ I’ve eaten rhubarb pie since I was a child (more than 65 years ago I’d eat them at my grandmother’s house). Almost all the recipes I find today are for “strawberry-rhubarb Pie,” which in my opinion isn’t as good as good old-fashioned rhubarb pie or rhubarb cobbler. The caution about poisonous leaves is mostly to warn people not to plant rhubarb where their pets can nibble on the leaves; it doesn’t take much for it to be toxic to cats and dogs.

  32. Phuoc

    LAGraham: Whoops! Noted and changed – I can’t believe it has taken me this long to notice that.

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