I seriously have an obsession with apples. Okay, the word “obsession” is a little strong. But, they’re by far my favorite fruit. I’m constantly munching on them whenever I’m watching TV. Apple pie, apple tarts, apple ice cream, apple crumble and so on and so on. They’re all so delicious! My brother constantly makes fun of me for incorporating apples in desserts. I’ll be eating something with butter or sugar in it, but if it has a little bit of fruit in it, I’ll claim it to being healthy. Hey, technically it is! He just laughs and walks away when I try to convince him. I may not be doing such a good job at convincing you either, so let’s move on.
Apple dumplings are a staple in the south. But, this Midwestern girl, likes them just fine. This recipe yields about five or six 7″ dumplings. The apples were tender, the crust was flaky and the acidic glaze perfectly complimented the apples inside.
To get started, you’ll need a few tools. You can use a 13×7″ baking dish or just a regular half sheet pan. You’ll need a fluted pastry wheel, pastry brush, ruler and pastry blender, if you have one. Pre-heat your oven to 375°F.
To start, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Mix with a fork until blended.
Next, add the shortening and blend with a pastry blend until crumbly. If you don’t have a pastry blender, you can also use your hands. Toss the flour mixture with the shortening to coat. Break up the shortening into little pieces and smash with your index finger and thumb. This is called the sablage method.
If you want an example of how to do this with your hands: Sablage Method
It should look crumbly like this after you’re done.
Now, take the milk and add it gradually. As you add it in, stir with a fork until the dry ingredients are moistened.
After adding the milk and stirring, you should have big crumbs like this. Now, try to shape it into a ball in the bowl. A little more milk may be required to make it work.
Now, turn this out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 21×14″ rectangle. You may need to add flour or milk depending on if it’s too crumbly to roll out or not. If it is, that means it’s too dry. Try adding a little more milk and knead it into the dough. Then, re-roll it out into the rectangle.
Take your pastry wheel and cut out five to six 7″ squares. You will have to cut out about two or three the first time and re-roll from the scraps. I ended up getting five.
Now, let’s work on the filling. Peel and core two apples. I used the Granny Smith variety, but you can use any good baking apple. After you core them, slice one in half cross wise. Slice the other one in thirds crosswise. Add one slice to each dough portion.
Top the apple with a teaspoon of butter and sprinkle on the sugar and cinnamon.
Brush the corners with water. Take the top right corner and meet it with the lower left hand corner in the middle. Do the same to the other corners. Pinch the edges to seal.
Place on a lightly greased half sheet tray lined with aluminum or in a lightly greased baking dish.
Bake at 375°F for 35 minutes or until the dumplings are lightly browned and the apples are tender. 35 minutes was perfect for me.
You can work on the glaze while the dumplings are cooking or you can do it after they’re out of the oven. It’s a quick process regardless. Combine the sugar, orange juice, water, butter and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Let it come to a boil and then let it simmer. Stir occasionally. Let it simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted.
Brush the glaze on the dumplings thoroughly right out of the oven. After that, enjoy warm!