Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings

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Oh yes, Grandma’s apple dumplings. A piece of childhood. (In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, an apple dumpling is an apple filled with cinnamon sugar, wrapped in pie dough, covered in a sweet syrup, and baked.) I used to love apple dumplings growing up, but my mother didn’t like to make them because she felt they were a lot of work. Which is fairly reasonable I suppose. However, my Grandmother was quite the baker, and so it became tradition that when Grandma was visiting she and I would make apple dumplings. I was never quite apple to peel apples as well as her, with the whole peel coming off in one lovely spiral. Perhaps 80 years of experience was on her side. In any case, we worked together to produce this truly delicious (and filling!) dessert. Seriously filling; my family used to eat it as the main course instead of dessert because apple dumplings really fill you up. But a piping hot apple dumpling, topped with milk so it becomes a cinnamony, appley, doughy goo… mmm delicious! Also goes extremely well with vanilla ice cream.

Anyway, this is an old Mennonite Recipe from the Mennonite Community Cookbook- and you know if it’s Mennonite, it has to be good. And probably filled with an unreasonable amount of butter. Which makes it delicious. Seriously, Mennonites can bake, check out http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/.

This one was a huge hit at the house! I had been talking about them for a while and it was finally time to actually cook them up. Unfortunately, due to the fact I still don’t use gas ovens properly and seem to burn the bottom of everything, and the pan was rather large so the syrup was spread out pretty thin, I may have burned the sugary syrup onto the bottom of the pan. It was pretty awful to get off. Try not to do that. The dumplings themselves were perfectly alright though. Not to worry.

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First step is to peel and core the apples. I was pretty impressed with this length of peel, I’m super not good at making long peels.

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Then core your apples by inserting the knife around the core in a circle, on both sides of the apple, then pushing out the core. Or some other method that maybe you prefer. Just get the core outa there!

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For the dough, mix the flour and baking soda and salt together. Then I prefer to use cold (either frozen or refrigerated) butter and use a cheese grater to grate the butter into the flour mix. Then you get really cold little pieces of butter for a fluffier pastry. If you use shortening, just cut in the shorting with a pastry blender or two knives.

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Even if you grate in the butter you’ll probably need to cut the butter a little more with a fork or some knifes until it looks like this, little pea-sized pieces.

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Sprinkle the milk in a bit at a time until you’re able to form the dough into a ball. Try not to overwork the dough.

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Roll out the dough onto a floured surface. Because I had limited space I only rolled out 1/3 at a time. If you have a large surface feel free to roll the whole thing out at one time. You want to have roughly 6 square shaped pieces of dough, at least 9″ by 9.” Depending on how big your apples are.

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Little apple on a dough square! Put your apple in the middle and pour some cinnamon sugar in the middle.

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Wrap it up like a present! A nice little ball, pad it so the dough is  nice and sealed.

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All the little dumplings on the pan with the sugar syrup poured over them, ready to go in the oven!

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And they’re done! Look at that deliciousness.

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Ready to eat! Doesn’t it just look delectable?

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Just go to town. Break open that sucker and pour some milk on it. Nothing better.

Apple Dumplings

Ingredients;

  • 6 medium-sized baking apples (bitter, Granny Smith or the like)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening or butter (depending on what you feel)
  • 3/4-1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Sauce:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg

Instructions:

First off, peel the 6 apples, Then remove the core. I usually do this but taking a paring knife and inserting it straight into the apple around the core, circling the core on one side, doing the same on the other, and then push the core out. Some people put the knife into the apple on an angle and pivot the knife around their thumb, taking out a cone shaped piece from the top of the apple. They do that on both sides and then carve out the rest of the middle. Do whatever you feel, as long as the core is removed and the apple is not split in two. Even if the apple does split, you can still use it, it’ll just be trickier to hold together while wrapping it in the pastry.

To make the pastry, mix together the  3 cups flour, 3 3/4 teaspoons baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Then cut in the cup of shortening or butter with a pastry blender or two knives held between your fingers. If you’re using butter, my advice is to use cold butter (refrigerated or frozen) and then grate the butter with a cheese grater. It allows the butter to be made into small pieces while still being cold, and cold butter makes a flakier pastry. Sprinkle the milk over the mixture and add just enough to make it come together so that you can work with it. Probably will be roughly a cup but could be more or less. If you add too much and the dough is super sticky, just add a bit more flour.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Depending on how much space you  have, you can roll it all out at once, or separate into 3 and roll out 1/3rd at a time (that is what I did). Roll into a rectangle until the dough is fairly thin, as you would for a pie crust. Cut into the appropriate amount of squares (6 if you’re rolling out the whole thing, 2 if rolling out 1/3).

Now to assemble the dumplings! Put an apple on the middle of a square of dough. Mix the cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon together and put a spoonful into the middle of the apple. Then wrap apple in the dough, patting it to seal the dough almost as you would a ball of play-dough. Use a little milk if the dough doesn’t stick. Place the dumplings on a greased baking pan.

For the sauce: Get a pot and combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup water, and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Then remove from heat and add the butter, stirring until completely melted. Pour the sauce over the dumplings, emptying the pan.

Bake the dumplings at 375 F for around 50 minutes. Baste occasionally during baking, 2 or 3 times is good. They’re done when they’re a nice toasty brown and a knife can be easily inserted through the apple part of the dumpling. Serve hot, dousing in milk or vanilla ice-cream if desired. Yum!

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