Thursday, November 26, 2009

November 23, 2009: Amish apple dumplings

The apples in our latest vege box were floury and not much fun to eat in their natural state. I was still optimistic that we might enjoy them cooked, so I pulled out a recipe that I made (badly) once before - Amish apple dumplings from Kurma Dasa's Vegetarian World Food. It's an ingenious way to make individual apple pies - just roll out some shortcrust pastry, peel an apple per person, and wrap each apple in pastry. Amazing! Who'd've thunk it? The Amish, apparently.

If you can manage to roll thin, flexible pastry and draw the pastry together at the bottom (not the top) of the apple, they work tremendously - with enough baking, the pastry and apple are tender enough to be scooped up with a spoon. I found this pastry recipe to be wonderfully moist and flexible, and used less per apple than Kurma advises. The one aspect I still haven't perfected is the butterscotch sauce, which is supposed to be poured over the dumplings before they go into the oven. I found that most of it burned in the bottom of the pan during baking. (Ever tried burned sugar? Not tasty.) In future, I'd try brushing the dumplings with just a little sauce, several times during the baking process (think of it - butterscotch varnish!) or just rolling the dumplings in a little sugar and skipping the sauce altogether.

Amish apple dumplings
(based on Kurma Dasa's recipe in Vegetarian World Food)

3/4 cup plain flour
pinch of salt
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons milk
2 tesaspoons water
1 teaspoon white vinegar
3 apples

for the sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon water

In a food processor, combine the flour and salt. Add the butter in cubes and pulse the mixture until it resembles bread crumbs. Sprinkle over the milk, water and vinegar and process the mixture until it comes together as a moist dough. Turn the dough onto a clean surface, bring it together into a ball with your hands, wrap it in plastic, and store it in the fridge until you're ready for dessert.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Peel the apples. Divide the dough into thirds and on a clean, lightly floured surface, roll the three dough balls out to ~2mm thickness. Drop a dough sheet over each apple. Mould the pastry down around the apples until they're completely covered. (Pinch off some of the excess pastry and decorate the apple with it if you want.) Lightly grease a small baking tray and place the apples on it.

In a small saucepan, stir together the butter, sugar and water over medium heat. Bring them to the boil. Pour the sauce over the dumplings. (Next time I will try brushing the pastry with the sauce, and re-brushing several times during baking.)

Bake the dumplings for 40-50 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the apple yields easily to a knife.


  1. Yummy! I've always been a bit suspicious of that recipe, the dumplings in the photo in the book have clearly not been cooked in the sauce. I would just do that, I think - add it at the end.

  2. What a cute idea! I actually thought it was a fried ice-cream when I first saw the photo, lol. I love baked apples, sweet or savoury. I sometimes roast whole apples instead of serving apple sauce with goose/pork (obviously not your thing, duh).

    I remember Kurma from the TV when I was little, hehe.

    And on an extra note, I read somewhere that the Amish have one of the world's unhealthiest diets - think rib-sticking puddings, heaps of white carbs and animal fat (bacon, sausages etc) - but they don't get a lot of heart disease because of the insane amounts of manual work that they do! So there you go.

    xox Sarah

  3. Penny, it is a frustrating photo - there's no way it could have come about by following the recipe! Thankfully the recipe is tasty, if not quite as pretty.

    Huh, Sarah, that is interesting! In his head notes, Kurma comments that this is very much a recipe for someone who ploughs fields all day - definitely a "sometimes food" for a desk worker like me. :-D

  4. One other idea you might try if you still want to bake them with the sauce is to put some baking paper at the bottom of the pan - when i make cinnamon rolls, the bits of sugar that stick to the pan directly burn, while the bits on the paper seem to puddle nicely. Don't know why, it's not as if it's a LOT of insulation, but it seems to work.

    I use the non-stick baking paper (kind of shiny, plasticy feeling, its a lot thicker and sturdier than the paper stuff).

    But I'm almost inclined to agree with you that a bit of a glaze, and then a slosh of sauce at the end, is a better option.

  5. Thanks for those ideas, Stru! I am tempted to try your suggested baking paper approach before heading down the more labour-intensive glazing road - I imagine the sauce could become nicely thick and sticky.