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What a shame! I am finally starting to get the hang of my new camera and this is my last blog for 365foods. Where did the year go?
I feel fortunate to have National Apple Dumpling Day. It is a dessert that is dear to my heart and yet I have never made it myself. My German Grandmother and Mother fed me many apple dumplings over the years. Along with baked apples, apple cake and apple sauce, I can definitely state that anything baked with apples and served with vanilla ice cream is a comfort food. Especially a fall comfort food.
The name “Apple Dumpling” is a misnomer when you think of all the other ancient dumplings served across the planet. The term dumpling is used to describe dough that is boiled or steamed (think matzo balls or dim sum), not a fruit pilled pastry baked in the oven. An apple dumpling is really an individual apple pie or a second country cousin to tarte aux pommes. After a quick search I found that Eliza Acton started wrapping apples in dough and boiling them in 1849. (Who Eliza was, exactly, I do not know). And I also know that the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish like to eat apple dumplings for breakfast. Trust me, eating apple dumplings for breakfast is pure genius. What I also discovered is there are many variations on the apple dumpling theme. So I decided to customize my first apple dumpling baking experience and here is what I decided on:
For the Crust:
1 c. butter – cold and cut into cubes
2 c. flour
2 tsp. sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 c. cold water
1.5 tbsp of lemon juice
Mix flour, butter, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Cut in the cold butter until pea size. Add egg, water and lemon juice and work the dough until just smooth. Chill dough while you prepare the apples.
For the syrup (I stole from Martha Stewart):
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar 2 cups clear apple juice 2 tablespoons honey 1/2 cup Armagnac, or brandy 1/4 cup pure maple syrup 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice Combine all syrup ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until liquid has reduced a little, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; set syrup aside.
Read more at Marthastewart.com: Baked Apple Dumplings Recipe – MarthaStewart.com
For the apples:
Peel and core 6 apples. I used granny smith which are nice and tart and bake well. Make up a mixture of cinnamon, brown sugar, golden raisins, pecans.
Preheat the oven to 450F.
Divide the chilled dough into 6 portions and roll out a portion to about 8″ round. Set an apple on it (it helps to cut the bottom flat when you peel it so it stands up) and fill (I like to stuff) the centre with the sugar and raisin mixture. Sprinkle the pastry with a little sugar/cinnamon and bring the dough up and pleat it as you go around and then pinch it firmly at the top. Finish the other 5 apples and brush them with egg. Place apples in a glass baking dish (spaced about two inches apart). Bake at 450F for about 15 minutes, then turn down the oven, pour a little of the syrup over each dumpling and bake at 350F for about one half hour to 45 minutes. You can “baste” the dumplings every 15 minutes.
Serve warm with warm syrup, the best vanilla ice cream you can find and a strong cup of coffee! If you need to, eat one whole apple yourself, otherwise this recipe could possibly make enough for twelve (but then you would have to share). Boo.
Thanks 365foods! It was a blast.
Today’s entry is more of a photo-essay documenting the adaptation of the following (quite delicious!) recipe from Epicurious.
Turnovers are reminiscent of the Cornish pasty, an all-in-one meal of meat, potatoes, vegetables and gravy wrapped in a handy pastry shell, designed for eating in the fields at harvest or haymaking time.
The sweet version, these turnovers can be made in many different shapes – as we were not heading to the fields today we decided to make them somewhat nest-shaped.
This summer’s cherries have been madly sweet and juicy, and these light, tasty pastries are the perfect way to celebrate the onset of Fall as well as a slightly heavier meal than the summer salad followed by blueberries etc. that we’ve all been enjoying these last few balmy weeks.
Pastry making and turnover shaping credits go to chef and artist Marta Pan. Marta got inspired and added lemon juice to the cherry mixture and garnished the turnovers with her grappa-soaked raisins for serving – an idea to which no-one would ever say no…
The turnovers ended up being a close contender for best-ever dessert, neck-and-neck with Marta’s legendary Sugarless Strawberry and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse Puff Pastry Tarte.
Here’s to Fall!
Spiced Cherry-Plum Turnovers
• 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons cornstarch
• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 4 small plums or 2 large plums (about 12 ounces total), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
• 1 cup cherries (generous; about 7 ounces), stemmed, pitted
• 1 teaspoon cherry balsamic vinegar or raspberry vinegar
• Squeeze of fresh lemon
• 1 15-ounce package refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts), room temperature
Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix dark brown sugar, cornstarch, and allspice in medium bowl. Add plums, cherries, lemon juice and vinegar, and toss to combine.
Unroll crusts on work surface. Cut each round in half. Mound 1/4 of filling on half of each dough piece, reserving 1 tablespoon juices in bowl. Fold plain dough halves over filling. Press edges to seal; fold edges over to double, then crimp decoratively. Brush turnovers with reserved juices from bowl. Cut small slits in tops for steam to escape. Transfer turnovers to rimmed baking sheet.
Bake turnovers until juices bubble and pastry is golden, about 20 minutes. Cool 15 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.
So, I have a confession to make.
While I will occasionally claim to have some pie-prowess, I have never, ever, in my life made pastry.
Can’t explain it really, just never got around to learning how. I think I was intimidated… it seemed there must be magic to a flaky crust. But, grabbing the bull (pie plate?) by the horns, I decided to volunteer for this blog and remedy this lack in my food education.
Rather than do a bunch of pesky reading on the subject*, I decided to recruit one of the best pie-makers I know, my dear friend Ian, to give me a tutorial. I got to know Ian in part by challenging him to a pie-off. Ian’s a bit of a outlier in the pastry world – think carpenter, motorbike rider, and ironman…
Everyone, meet Ian (and his beloved truck Thelma):
So, on Saturday afternoon, Ian came over and we made apple pie. This is his recipe, which he could recite by heart. I’m pretty sure he inherited it from his mom. It makes enough for 4 rounds of pastry, i.e. two tops and two bottoms.
TOUGH GUY APPLE PIE
For the crust:
5 1/2c PASTRY flour, plus more for dusting
1 tbls salt
1 lb lard, cut into small pieces
3 tsp vinegar
1 tbls white sugar
For the filling:
8-10 Spartan apples, or whatever is growing locally
1/4 c flour
1/4 to 1/2 c sugar
1 tbls cinnamon
Peel the apples, core and slice into big chunks. Toss with the remainder of the filling ingredients, and set aside.
In a large bowl, use a pastry cutter to cut the lard cubes into the flour, until the flour is crumbly and the largest pieces are the size of peas. Break the egg into a measuring cup, add the vinegar, and then add enough cool water to fill the cup to the 1 cup mark. Mix the egg, water and vinegar with a fork, then make a well in the flour and pour the liquid into it. Stir with a fork until the dough beings to stick together, then get in there and mix with your hands. Once you can form a ball (don’t overwork it), turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form into a ball. Refrigerate the dough if you’re not making the pie right away, freeze it, or carry on. It’s best if you can keep the dough cool, so you may want to stop here and let it sit in the fridge for a little while.
Cut off 1/4 of the dough ball, and roll that piece out on a flat lightly floured surface. Every couple of rolls, flip it over, to make sure it isn’t sticking. Once it’s big enough (and hopefully not too lopsided!) transfer to the pie plate (no need to grease the plate, the lard takes care of that!).
Fill your pie. Roll out another quarter of the dough and drape it over the apples. Using a sharp knife, trim the pastry from around the edges of the pie plate. Using water or egg wash, crimp the edges of the pie to seal it. Cut a few little holes in the top to let the steam escape.
Bake at 425 for 15 min, then reduce temp to 350 and bake until the pastry is golden – about 30 to 40 min. When the pie comes out of the oven, sprinkle with white sugar.
… and that’s it. It turned out great (ok ok I need to work on my crimping!), and I was really happy with the pastry–all credit to Ian of course! I can’t wait to try this again with some summer peaches, or with this savoury lamb shank pie that I’ve been eying up.
*If you WANT to do pesky reading, I highly recommend the Epicurious Pie Guide http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/howtocook/primers/pieprimer . It will talk you right through it.
ps – For an other take on apple pie, also check out B’s blog on the same topic from December!