Hearty Fall Cookery
“Good and plenty” are these old fashioned country apple dumplings! Come fall, the apple harvest in full swing, is the perfect time to roll out some dough, wrap it around crisp apples popped in the oven, bathed in caramel syrup , and served with warm milk. Perfect for a warming breakfast, a barn raising picnic, or mid-day Sunday dinner just like they do down on the farm in Pennsylvania.
- 1/4 cup (2oz) unsalted butter, cold
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (or lard), cold
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose or unbleached flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup milk
Combine the butter, shortening, and salt in a mixer bowl fitted with a paddle and mix for several minutes on low speed until the butter and shortening soften, then turn up the speed to medium and mix until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl as you mix. Combine the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and begin adding the flour mixture in three batches until the mixture resembles a course balls the size of small peas. Turn the mixer off and sprinkle the milk over the dough. Turn the mixer on at low speed and mix very briefly just until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead several times and form the dough into rectangular brick shape. Flatten the dough and wrap in plastic film and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
Apples, Stuffing, and Syrup
Choosing the right apple for baking: moderate size, hard, crisp, and tart.
- 4 medium apples, peeled and cored
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar + 2 tablespoons for stuffing
- 1 ½ cups water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 2 tablespoons walnuts
Combine 1 ½ cups brown sugar and 1 ½ cups water in a sauce pan and simmer 5-8 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the butter and cinnamon and mix until butter is melted into the syrup. Set aside. Combine the raisins, walnuts, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in a small bowl, mix, and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375F/190C
When the dough is firm, remove from the fridge and roll out into a rectangular shape about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Place an apple in the center of each piece. Stuff the core cavity with raisin walnut brown sugar mixture. Draw the sides of the dough up around the apple. The dough will be quite delicate but don’t get all “fehutzed and fehuddeled” about cracks or tears which will be closed when encasing the apple in the dough. Use both hands to press the dough tightly around the apple, closing the top tightly. Don’t “fret” about what the dough looks like pressed around the apple, once baked it will look just fine. Repeat the same procedure with the remaining apples.
Place the dumplings in a lightly buttered baking pan leaving room between each apple for even baking. Pour the syrup over the apples and into the baking pan. Place in the oven to bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Baste the dumplings with the pan syrup at 15 minute intervals during baking and rotate the pan to ensure even baking and browning. Add additional water to the syrup if it becomes to thick while baking.
Remove the dumplings from the oven and set aside to cool for 30 minutes, allowing the crust to set before carefully lifting the dumplings out of the baking tray and placing them into individual serving bowls. Transfer the pan syrup to a small sauce pan and reduce if the syrup needs thickening.
Serving Serve the dumplings warm with some warmed milk and drizzled with pan syrup over the top of the dumplings.