Sunday, September 19, 2010

Autumn Means Apple Dumplings

It's entirely the fault of the apple vendor at the famer's market.

I know it's too early to make apple dumplings. I know it's not even autumn yet, officially. I usually hold off until October to make them, when they are the perfect way to celebrate the glories of autumn.

But yesterday, Ringhausen Orchards had a display of freshly-squeezed apple cider. I looked at those bottles and I saw that warm, spicy cider bathing a pan of glistening apple dumplings, golden and heavenly in their aroma, and one of those bottles came home with me.

This recipe is the result of years of tweaking. The big epiphany came when I was trying to think of a way to make them without adding sugar. Every recipe I'd ever seen called for them to be basted, while baking, in a sugar-water syrup, but I'm sure you'll agree with me that hot spiced cider is simply THE way to do it. It's really a fairly simple recipe; I make my own pastry, but prepared pie crust (a double thickness) is fine here. You can use just as much sugar and spice as you like; I like them not too sweet and a little extra spicy.

The matter of accompaniments depends entirely on the occasion, the time of day, and what you're in the mood for. Ice cream--vanilla, caramel, or butter pecan-- is good, as is heavy cream, whipped or not. I love adding a little of the thick yellow cream at the top of the wonderful unhomogenized milk I buy from Greenwood Farms in Rolla, MO. But I think my favorite way to eat apple dumplings is with a wedge of cheese. Usually I use a sharp, good cheddar, but this time I had a chunk of Country Connection Applewood-Smoked Gouda, and it was perfect. If I use cheese, I can tell myself it's a completely balanced diet!

However you want them, do make these apple dumplings. Nobody should ever experience autumn without them.


Pastry for a 2-crust pie, homemade or prepared
4 small apples - 2-3" in diameter - Granny Smith or other tart baking apples
2 1/2 cups fresh apple cider
1/2 cup granulated sugar, approximately
8 tsp. brown sugar, approximately

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat cider with sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg over medium-high heat. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out pastry into about a 10" square; cut into fourths. Place one peeled, cored apple on each square. If desired, fill with brown sugar, adding more or less as you prefer. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and nutmeg. Bring the four corners up over each apple, pressing firmly around the apple to seal it, pressing together any holes in the pastry. Beauty isn't important here, just keeping the crust sealed around the apples.

Place the apples in a baking dish about 8 x 10". Pour the hot spiced cider slowly over the apples, then spoon it over each one to begin to glaze them. Bake about one hour, basting the apples with cider from the pan every ten minutes.

Just about the time you can't stand the seductive aroma any more, they'll be golden-brown and glistening; remove from oven and allow to cool as long as you can stand to. Serve warm with ice cream, whipping cream, or a wedge of good cheese.


  1. I've just burned my calendar. These sound so delicious that I can't wait for the fall season to officially start. I love the food and recipes you feature here. I'm new to your blog but I'll be back. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  2. Thanks, Mary! Blessings to you too.