It’s September, a few leaves have begun to fall, the days have gotten noticeably shorter, the air has gotten a bit crisper, and I am more than ready to start baking with apples and cinnamon. I love summer for the first month or two, and then once the days get unbearably hot and humid, I pine for the cool, crisp days of fall. The grass is always greener, right? I adore baking during the fall; between the flavors of things like apples and pumpkin, and the warm spices of cinnamon and nutmeg, it just feels like a big cozy blanket. I have put off making apple dumplings for at least three years, thinking that they were some sort of complicated undertaking. I could not have been more wrong, and these apple dumplings could not have been more delicious.
In order to make these, all you need to do is gather up some good Granny Smith apples (or the tart apple of your choice), mix together an easy one-bowl pastry crust and a boiled sauce. The apples are peeled and cored and their center is stuffed with a bit of butter and a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Each apple is wrapped up in pastry crust, which can be as perfect or rustic as you like. The pastry-covered apples are drenched with a boiled butter and brown sugar sauce. They are baked for nearly an hour, until the apples are soft and tender, and the pastry crust is golden brown.
Have I mentioned that I could eat an entire pie without filling? As in, just crust? I absolutely adore pie crust, and this pastry crust recipe is one of the best I’ve ever had.
In a word, these are phenomenal. So much less fuss than I had anticipated, and a perfect dessert for a fall dinner party (or a special snack for two on a rainy weekday afternoon!). Serve the apple dumplings with a drizzle of extra sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you’ll have friends for life. Bring on the fall baking!
1. Make the Pastry Dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the shortening until the mixture is crumbly. Gradually add the ice water, tossing the mixture with a fork, until the dough forms a cohesive mass. Divide the dough into eight equal portions, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
3. Assemble the Apples: Roll each portion of dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 7-inch square. Place an apple in the center of each square. Place 1 teaspoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture in the center of each apple.
4. Gently bring up the corners of the pastry to the center of each apple; pinch the edges to seal. Place the pastry-encased apples in a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture.
5. Make the Sauce: In a large saucepan, combine the brown sugar, water and butter over medium-high heat until it just begins to boil, stirring occasionally. Pour the sauce evenly over the apples.
6. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the apples are tender and the pastry is golden brown, basting occasionally with the sauce. These are best served warm immediately after baking.