Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Apple Dumplings

The apple dumpling tradition continues. This year of course we couldn't do it on Thanksgiving because I'll be home! So we invited a bunch of friends over for the Sunday before. There are so many more people in town the Sunday before Thanksgiving versus Thanksgiving day!

I think we fed 12 or 13 people. I made a double batch of dumplings, and still several of us only had halves.

There always has to be a glitch though, right? So last year it was cooking the sugar sauce till it was like toffee or hard caramel and then apples were a bit dry. This year I did the sauce right, but the oven decided to heat unevenly. And I mean really unevenly. After about 45-50 minutes of cooking I was checking an apple on the far right of the pan and it still felt hard, like hardly cooked. So I kept cooking, and cooking, and checking. Apples still hard. But for some reason I never looked over at the apples on the left side of the pan (a mere 8 inches away) until I realized they practically melted they were so cooked! And even though they'd turned to applesauce, the apples on the other side of the pan were still tough! So weird.

So for the next batch I turned the pan around three times while cooking and it worked like a charm.

Our friends came out, braving treacherous icy roads, and brought hot cider, banana bread, waffles, raspberries & blueberries with whipped cream, crustless quiche, and bacon. One of our friends brought over a new box of Yorkshire God tea. My hero!! We never buy the Gold because it's more expensive. And it's so darn good, we can't get used to drinking that and then go back to the regular. =) So I made pot after pot after pot of tea.

And of course we used Jeremy's great grandmother's china again. We ran out of chairs in the end and it was pretty packed with all of us in that kitchen.

My grandparents did up their will before my grandma died 9 years ago. I'm going to get their dining room table some day complete with leaves for extending the table and 8 chairs! It will be such a moment when all our friends gather around my grandparent's table and use Jeremy's family's china and my mom's recipe for apple dumplings.

(Of course it will also mean that my grandpa has passed which will be very sad. =( )

Anyway, here is the recipe which I didn't share last year.

Mom's Apple Dumplings

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a saucepan, combine 2 cups water, 2 cups sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Bring to a full boil, occasionally stirring. Set aside. (Which means turn the heat off!)

If you're sharing this task with someone else, they can peel and core 6 apples. Dip them in lemon-water or vinegar-water which keeps them from browning.

Combine 3 cups flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Cut in 1 cup of shortening (butter, Crisco, etc) until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle mixture with milk while tossing with a fork, adding enough milk until soft dough forms. (This will be between 2/3 to 1 cup of milk.)

Shape the dough into a log and cut into 8 equal pieces. (The extra pieces are for decoration.)

Roll out each piece on a floured surface – round shape is ok. Place an apple in the center of each pastry piece and you can put a littl butter in the hollowed out apple. You can put some brown sugar and cinnamon mix in the core, but you don't have to. Mold the pastry around the apple – press edges to seal. Repeat with rest of apples.

Place in ungreased pan – one big enough to fit the apples so that they don't touch each other, and deep enough so that when the sauce bubbles up it won't overflow. At this point, you can whip up a bit of egg white and brush dumplings with this. Roll out the rest of the dough and cut out some leaves, make veins with tip of knife, tip one end in the egg white and then press onto top of dumpling.
We usually do 3 leaves to an apple. You could have someone else cutting out the leaves and getting those ready while you form the pastry around the apples. When all pastry has been brushed with egg white, (and sprinkled with a bit of sugar if you want – not too much), pour the sauce around the dumplings and bake at 375 degrees for 40 – 50 minutes, until the apples are tender and the pastry is brown. If the apples are not done yet and the pastry is getting too brown, cover with a piece of foil.

Don't those just look good enough to eat!!

We usually roll up some dough for a stem in the apple, which I didn't do in this last batch. And, I've always cut out bit leaf shapes and cut in the 'veins' like my mom's directions say; but this year I used a tiny cookie cutter Jeremy got for me of an oak leaf. Took way less time!

Can't wait to have these again on Thanksgiving morning! =)

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