Saturday, April 2, 2011
Posted by Level VI Kitchen Wizard at 4/02/2011
Apple dumplings. So amazingly awesome. Before today I had never, ever made homemade apple dumplings all by my little lonesome. So this was kind of like a challenge for me. No, really, these things were a challenge and a pain in the ass. But, oh gosh, were they ever worth it. There really isn't any other dessert that is quite as homey-licious as the apple dumpling. And you can not, I repeat, can not, consume this dessert without copious amounts of vanilla ice cream. (Yes, I added quite a little bit more ice cream after I was done taking pictures...) Yummy.
As I said before, this is a difficult dessert to master. I used the recipe from the Fannie Farmer cookbook, and they were very nummy, but whew! The pastry was rather hard to work with, since dumpling dough is right smack in the middle of just wet enough and way too freaking wet. Which means if you're not God and super-careful it's going to tear on you. That should explain to you why my dumplings kind of look like they've been mauled by a bear. The recipe says to roll the dough into a square that is 13" x 13" and then cut 4 6 1/2" squares. I did. To the exact centimeter, actually. Before you go off and make these, let me tell you that 13 x 13 is way to small. I ended up having to trim my apples down rather a lot to make the pastry fit all the way around them. But they turned out delicious in the end anyway, and that's what counts, right?
Also, I added a little touch of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey to the sauce for the dumplings. Why? Because I felt like it, that's why. And it was good...so...SUCCESS. Everything else I followed to the letter.
Oh, and just so I don't feel like I led you into this without fair warning, this is what my kitchen looked like after my epic struggle:
Yeah.... but hey, it only took 15 minutes to clean it all up and make everything right as rain :D
Apple Dumplings adapted from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook
3/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3 Tbs. butter
A sploosh of Bourbon, or more if you're an alcoholic. (And yes sploosh is a precise measurement) optional
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tsp. salt
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup cold milk
4 whole apples (I used Golden Delicious, not too tart, not too sweet), peeled and cored
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup cream
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have ready a 9 x 9 inch square baking pan. Combine the apple juice, water, bourbon (if using), cinnamon, nutmeg and butter in a small saucepan and heat, stirring several times, until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Put the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and stir them together. Drop in the shortening and work it into the flour using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips, mixing until the fat is reduced to tiny uneven particles and mixture resembles fresh bread crumbs. Pour in the milk and stir with a fork just until the dough holds together. Form the dough into a square cake about 1 inch thick and place it on a lightly floured, smooth surface. With a rolling pin, roll the dough lightly in all directions, lifting it frequently to sure the dough isn't sticking to the surface, and keeping it as square as possible. Roll until the dough is about 13 inches square and 1/8 inch thick. (I would recommend trying to make the square just a tad larger than 13 inches square). Cut the dough into four equal squares. Place an apple in the center of each square and bring the four corners of the dough together at the top, enclosing the apple completely. Give the four attached corners a clockwise twist, which seals the dumpling and adds a decorative topknot. (Or if you're careless like me, you can just mush is all closed, so that yes, it's ugly, but definitely sealed.)
Put the dumplings in the baking dish about 1 inch apart. Pour the sauce you made early over the dumplings and sprinkle each with 1/2 Tbs sugar. Bake for about 25 minutes, basting the dumplings with the sauce several times. Pour the cream into the sauce and bake for about 15 minutes more. The dumplings are done when the pastry is golden and the apples are tender when pierced with a skewer. Remove from the oven and serve warm with the sauce from the pan and vanilla ice cream. (Don't you dare forget the ice cream).