Baked Apple Dumplings
This is a really flexible recipe. You can use what you have on hand for the filling: blanched almonds, honey and sweet butter; or candied grapefruit peel, currants, sugar and heavy cream.
Read more about this recipe in the Washington Post.
5 to 6 tablespoons ice-cold water
2 cups flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
1/4 cup currants
3 tablespoons sour cream or heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon minced candied ginger
1 pinch salt
4 flavorful, large apples, such as Golden Delicious
prep: 35 minutes
total: 2 hours 40 minutes
1. For the crust: Measure out the water for the crust (with a bit of extra water in case you need more) and add a few ice cubes. Chill it in the freezer.
2. Use a little of the measured flour to lightly coat the cold piece of butter; cut the butter in half lengthwise and coat its newly cut surfaces; cut again lengthwise into quarters and repeat the coating. Cut again into 1-inch pieces and coat in the flour.
3. Combine the flour, salt and coated butter pieces in the large bowl of a food processor. Cut the shortening into 1-inch pieces and add to the mixture. Pulse it a few times; stop and shake the bowl to make sure the butter and shortening are evenly distributed.
4. Pulse the mixture until the larger fat pieces are the size of shelled peas and the smallest pieces are the size of lentils. Do not overmix; it should take fewer than 10 pulses to achieve the right consistency. Transfer the flour-butter-shortening mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes.
5. When the mixture is chilled, add the water by hand, starting with 2 or 3 tablespoons. Use your hands to quickly toss the mixture with a light upward motion to distribute the water evenly throughout. Work the dough as little as possible. Sprinkle water as needed just until the dough comes together.
6. Form a ball of dough and use it to mop up any remaining crumbs in the bowl; if they pick up easily, the dough is probably wet enough. (If your dough is quite sticky, soft and wet, it is better to start over. If the butter no longer feels cool to the touch, put the mixture in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes.) Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
7. Divide the dough into 4 balls. Cover each ball tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes and up to overnight.
8. For the filling: In a small bowl, combine the currants, sour cream or cream, sugar, ginger and salt. Set aside.
9. Peel the apples. Entering from the top stem indentation, core the apple with a paring knife but don't go all the way through to the bottom. Keep the flower-end or base of the apple intact so the filling doesn't leak out. Use the smaller end of a melon baller to scrape out any remaining core parts. If you like, roll the peeled apple in cinnamon and sugar.
10. To assemble: Roll out each dough ball to a round at least 11 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Place an apple in the center of each circle of dough. Fill each apple’s center with 1/4 of the filling mixture, stopping about 1/2 inch shy of the top of the apple.
11. Drape the sides of the dough over the top of the apple, creating folds as you go. Wet the top inside edge of the last piece with a drop of water and press gently to seal it. Make a little vent on top. Chill the dumplings for 10 minutes in the freezer before baking (but not longer; you want the dough to chill without freezing the apple).
12. Preheat the oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
13. Bake the dumplings on the parchment-lined sheet for 10 minutes, until the pastry is blond and blistered. Reduce the temperature to 350F and bake for about 45 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apple is tender when pierced with a toothpick. Cool the dumplings slightly before serving.
Adapted from Bubby's Homemade Pies, by Ron Silver and Jen Bervin.