The Weekend Kitchen: Apple Dumplings

DSC_0866Apple dumplings hold a special place in my heart.  My Grandmother Porter, of German descent and a product of the Depression Era, could not stand to waste a thing.  Her cooking was simple, hearty, and utterly delicious, and everything she made was from memory, learned no doubt from watching her mother and grandmother.  During her long stays with us she roasted chickens, creamed cabbage, made beef stroganoff, mashed lots of potatoes, and baked.  Baking was what she loved most.DSC_0891DSC_0939DSC_0924When she baked apple pie, bits of dough were often leftover.  Tossing them out would have been wasteful, so she cobbled these bits together, stretched them over a quickly peeled apple, and baked it alongside the pie.  This was a great treat because you didn’t have the unbearably long wait until after dinner to cut into the pie!  Apple dumplings were green lighted for after-school snacks, devoured just out of the oven.

Peeled and coated in lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar, and dark flecks of allspice.
Peeled and coated in lemon juice, zest, cinnamon, sugar, and dark flecks of allspice.

This is my version of apple dumplings, though I add butter to my crust which she never would have done (she used shortening only as shortening makes the most tender crust).  I love the combination because it delivers buttery-flaky goodness but remains tender from the addition of shortening.

Wrapped in dough blankets and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, waiting to go in the oven.
Wrapped in their dough blankets, waiting to go in the oven.

Apple Dumplings

makes 8

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening, chilled and diced into small pieces
  • 11 tablespoons butter, chilled until very cold and diced into small pieces
  • 4-6 tablespoons ice water
  • 8 small apples (I used Cortland, Granny Smiths are great)
  • 1 lemon, zested then juiced
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 tablespoons butter, diced into 8 pieces
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  1. Butter a rectangular baking dish that generously fits 8 apples.  Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add flour, sugar, salt, and pulse a few times until combined.  Add cold butter and shortening, pulsing until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Through the feed tube, add one tablespoon of ice water at a time, stopping immediately when dough comes together in a ball.
  3. Turn dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, flatten into a disc and thoroughly wrap in plastic.  Chill for at least one-half hour.
  4. While dough is chilling, add lemon juice to a large bowl.  Peel and core apples, tossing each in the lemon juice as soon as you’ve peeled it.  Sprinkle lemon zest over apples and stir to combine.
  5. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and allspice in a small bowl.  Set aside 2 tablespoons of mixture for sprinkling over pastry.
  6. Pour sugar mixture over apples, coating each one thoroughly including the centers.
  7. When dough is thoroughly chilled, remove from fridge and and roll out on a well floured surface, turning disc every few rolls to prevent sticking.  When dough has been rolled  into 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness, cut 6-in diameter rounds until you have 8.  I used a 6-in diameter bowl and cut around it with a knife, but you can free form it.  This is rustic at its best!
  8. One at a time, place each apple in the center of a dough round and wrap.  Set in buttered baking dish.
  9. Press a square of diced butter into each hole.
  10. Using a pastry brush, brush each dough covered apple with the lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with reserved sugar mixture.
  11. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until crust is golden and apples are tender. DSC_0013

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