Monday, March 12, 2012

Apple Dumplings

Or, at least, these are kind of like apple dumplings.

Over the weekend, I had planned to make something delicious. In fact, I had planned to make an apple parsnip soup, much like this one by the Foodess. I was inspired by my birthday dinner two weeks ago. I ordered a parsnip soup to start since a) I had never had parsnip anything before and b) the other option was really uninteresting. And it was delicious. I wanted a recreation without the $10 price tag.

And then, on Saturday afternoon, the Husband set out to Canadian Tire and came back with a barbecue.

How can one purchase a barbecue and not christen it with some fat, juicy burgers? I set my plans for parsnip soup aside and scarfed down my slab of meat and bun with plenty of mustard, ketchup, relish, and mayo. Also, a tomato. And lettuce.

On the days the Husband makes all the food, I end up feeling dissatisfied, no matter how tasty it all was. I miss the sense of satisfaction born from taking a few flavours and melding them together to make something delicious. I miss the chopping, the simmering, the mixing, the careful tweaking. Even if my motivation and energy are low I miss the time spent in my kitchen.

So, with all the plates cleared away, I got started on something else I've been meaning to make.

In some ways, these apple dumplings were a total failure. I didn't wet my hands enough as I formed the pastry into a ball, I didn't crimp the edges closed firmly enough. All but one of these apple treats that I had chosen to form into the shape of a dumpling fell open and became an apple nest. That meant, of course, that far too much of the juices evaporated away, leaving them slightly dry and less enticing.

(The Husband solved this problem with a generous drizzle of maple syrup. You could too.)

One, however, made it through.

Inside, the apple filling was moist and the pastry was flaky, if a little thick in places for my liking. I nibbled and contentedly declared it a success despite the bloomed balls staring at me from the baking sheet.

Next time, I promised myself, I won't make the same mistake.

In fact, I conceded, I'll probably just make a pie.

Apple Dumplings
barely adapted from Budget Bytes

For the dough

1 and 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
3/4 cup cold butter or margarine
1/4 cup cold water

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour and the sugar. Cut in the butter and mix using a pastry cutter if you have one or, if you're like me and don't have one, just dive in there with your hands. Mix everything together until it has a consistency of course sand. Again, I used my hands, but if you really want to, you could break out a food processor... just don't over mix! You'll lose the flakiness of the pastry if you do.

Wrap up your lump of dough in plastic wrap and pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes to stiffen up.

(Note: I found my pastry dough to be a little flaky and hard to work with at this point already. Was I lacking water? Or is that the consistency of a good pastry dough to begin with?)

For the filling

4 apples
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Peel, core, and chop your apples. Toss them with the dry ingredients until well coated.

For the dumpling

After half an hour has passed, preheat your oven to 350*.

Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and place in the middle of your lightly-dust-with-flour counter top. Place a good sized piece of plastic wrap on top of the pastry and start to roll it out. The plastic wrap will help prevent the pastry from sticking to your rolling pin. Roll in all directions, alternating between up, down, side to side and diagonals. Roll to 1/8 - 1/4 of an inch thick, though I personally believe the thinner the better. The thinner you make it, the hard it will be to work with.

Using a cereal bowl or some other round object of the size of your choice, cut out as many circles as you can on the first roll. One at a time, lift the circles and, holding them in your hand, fill with the apple filling. With a damp hand, close the pastry around the filling the the shape of a ball. Crimp the edges closed, using a little water to make sure the pastry will stay closed. Leave an opening at the top. Place the ball upright on a greased baking sheet and repeat with the next disk of dough.

When you've made as many as you can from the dough, squish it all up and roll it out again. Make a few more circles, squish it all up and roll it out again. Continue this process until there is not enough dough left or you're just totally sick of rolling it out.

If desired, make other shapes like the hand pies Beth made. And, if you want to get really adventurous, throw a handful of raisins or craisins into the filling. (She recommends a 1/4 of a cup of dried cranberries.)

Bake for 45 minutes until they're beautifully browned.

Eat hot. They're best that way.


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