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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Best Strawberry Scones

This is the height of my baking accomplishments. This is my greatest accomplishment. This scone recipe is freaking amazing. I got the basic scone recipe from Cafe Ferando- http://cafefernando.com/strawberry-scones/ and the idea for the orange glaze and flavouring from http://bakingbites.com/2008/04/strawberry-sunrise-scones/– when I made the strawberry sunrise scones, they didn’t turn out well at all- I didn’t mix the yogurt in well or something, it was soggy and gross. But the flavour was good. I also got the idea to grate the butter in from a cooking video online- the colder the butter, the flakier the pastry will be. So, if you grate in frozen butter, it remains quite cold but is shredded into little pieces which can be incorporated into the dough. As far as I can tell, it works like a charm! So here they are, my wonderful scones.

STRAWBERRY SCONE RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup strawberries (I usually use them frozen, but I’m not sure it makes a difference)
  • 6 tablespoons frozen, unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream with 2 tsp orange zest
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

For finishing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 T orange juice

Method

  1. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400 F (205 C). Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the strawberries, tossing until evenly distributed and coated with flour (this allows the fruit to be evenly distributed among each wedge). Grate the frozen butter in with a cheese grater
  2. In a small bowl, stir the cream, orange zest, and egg yolks just to blend. Add this all at once to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork to begin combining the wet and dry ingredients and then use your hands to gently knead the mixture together until all the dry ingredients are absorbed into the dough and it can be gathered into a moist, shaggy ball.
  3. Do not overknead: This dough is sticky but benefits from minimal handling. Set the rough ball in the center of the prepared baking sheet and pat it gently into a round about 1 inch thick and 7 inches in diameter. Don’t be tempted to make the round any flatter.
  4. With a sharp knife or pastry scraper, cut the round into eight wedges, but don’t separate.
  5. Bake until the scones are deep golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a wedge comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Cut the scones apart and slide the parchment onto a rack and let cool for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Mix the glaze (sugar and orange juice)- drizzle over warm scones!
  7. Best served fresh, these scones will keep for up to a month, wrapped well and frozen. Thaw at room temperature and then warm in a 325 F oven.

Enjoy your delicious scones!

Homemade Pop Tarts

 

I love pop tarts. Especially whole wheat pop tarts. But that’s another day. Anyway, so of course I jumped at this chance to make homemade pop tarts! Yumm! Again, recipe thanks to Mennonite Girls Can Cook- I love this girls. They’re awesome. Makes me proud to be Mennonite. http://mennonitegirlscancook.blogspot.com/search?q=pop+tarts Basically these poptarts are just flaky pastry with some jam inside and some icing on top. Pretty delicious.

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup chilled butter, cut in cubes
  • 4-5 tablespoons very cold water
  • Strawberry jam
  • Pear jam
  1. In a bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. I used a food processor to make this dough, but both methods work fine.
  2. With a pastry blender cut in the chilled butter till it’s the size of peas. (I like to use frozen butter and then grate it with a cheese grater. The colder the ingredients, the flakier the pastry. Plus it’s pretty handy if you don’t have a pastry blender.)
  3. Add the cold water a tablespoon at a time till the dough comes together. (I had to use 6 T because it wasn’t sticking together, just experiment)
  4. Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap, pressing down into a disk. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Roll out into a rectangle and cut approx 3″ by 5 ” pieces. Place jam on the center of a cut piece of dough, top with another piece and seal the edges with the tines of a fork dipped in flour.
  6. Bake on a parchment lined pan at 375º for 25 to 30 minutes. I baked mine for 27 minutes.
  7. Let cool.
  8. You can leave them plain or ice them with your favorite frosting and top with sprinkles. (The frosting I used consisted of 3/4 cup confectioners sugar, 1/4 cup shortening, 1 T water, 1 t vanilla extract. You can add sugar and stuff to make it the way you want it if you want it sweeter or anything- it’s pretty simple)
  9. Yields: 5 pop tarts
Emily’s notes: These were pretty easy to make, the hardest part was making similar sized rectangles out of an oblongy bit of dough- it’s kinda hard to roll in perfect rectangles. But other than that, they were fairly simply and pretty tasty!