November 1st, 2010
I grew up in New Jersey with a father who loves weekend road trips and farm stands even more. (The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.) Lancaster, PA, the heart of Amish country, used to be one of his favorite places to take us. Though Amish culture couldn’t be further from his own Greek culture, I think he got a kick out of the old fashioned way of life. Horse drawn buggies, big farms, festivals with lots of locally made, regional foods. He used to get a big kick out of shoofly pie—the name inspired a whole lot of dad jokes (aka bad jokes)!
To be honest, I don’t remember what shoofly pie is. But, I do have fond memories of another dutch PA dessert: apple dumplings. And I thought of them while staring at the bounty from this year’s apple picking trip.
Dutch apple dumplings are delectable, free-form packages made by wrapping pie dough around a cored apple filled with sugar and raisins (rum, too, if you’re feeling frisky!). They’re almost like individual apple pies, but faster and easier to make, especially if you have dough on hand.
I’ve had apple dumplings made both with and without syrup. While both are good, the kind with syrup are an especially delicious treat. If the dumplings are a treat enough, you can still follow my recipe, simply skip the syrup.
Use your favorite pie dough. I’ve experiment with a few (and will surely experiment with more this holiday season—stay tuned), but alway return to Martha Stewart’s basic pate brisee. I used it to make these dumplings with fantastic results.
If you make the dough ahead of time, these apple dumplings come together easily for a fun weekend dessert. They’re also a nice pie alternative for smaller holiday dinner parties. Any recipe that yields enough dough for a double crust pie will make 8 dumplings.
Dutch Apple Dumplings
makes 4 dumplings
(can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
1/2 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 c water
1 Tbsp butter, plus 4 more tsp
4 apples, peeled and cored
2 Tbsp raisins
4 tsp light brown sugar
your favorite pie dough, enough for a single crust pie
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make syrup: Place dark brown sugar, water and 1 tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a minute or two, to thicken up. Set aside.
2. Evenly divide raisins, light brown sugar and butter among the 4 apple core holes. Sprinkle all 4 apples with cinnamon.
3. Divide your chilled pie dough into 4 equal parts. Roll or hand flatten each into a “pancake” large enough to cover a whole apple. Place each apple in the center of its own round of dough. For each one, bring up the sides of the dough to cover and close in the apple. Place apples on a rimmed baking sheet, baste with syrup and bake for 20-25 minutes, basting 2-3 more times, until golden brown.
*Note: This can be safely shared with children younger than 12 months though, I’d recommend saving it for kids over a year old because of the relatively high sugar content.