Sunday, 6 April 2014
When you crack open an apple dumpling the steam escapes, streaming up towards the ceiling. The buttery juices run out from the core. When you pour cold cream over the top it glosses the sides of the pastry then swirls into the juices.
I bought a copy of Jane Grigson's Fruit Book after reading Diana Henry's excellent piece on food writing & cookbooks - a lifelong love. I was looking for something to do with a bowl of apples so I opened it up and found this recipe. Essentially, you peel and core the apples, plug the core with butter and sugar, wrap them in pastry and bake.
Jane recommended a plain pastry, so I've been using the one in the recipe below that is relatively light on butter and bound with milk. You could use another pastry recipe that you like, though I also don't recommend using a rich or sweet pastry. In the test for the photos I rolled my pastry a little too big so it's a bit thinner than normal (though it doesn't particularly matter).
I've written the recipe for two but it can easily be scaled up - I think it would be great for a group or party. I haven't tried assembling them in advance and chilling them for a few hours before baking but I don't see why it wouldn't work. For scaling, here's some more pastry quantities:
For 3 - 85g/pinch/40g/3 tbsp
For 4 - 110g/2 pinches/50g/4 tbsp
For 8 - 220g/4 pinches/100g/8 tbsp (etc.)
I used small apples, which created a nice pastry to apple ratio and a good portion size. Cox's orange pippins are great as they have a lot of flavour and they don't disintegrate as they cook - you want a firm but tender apple inside, not mush. If you use bigger apples you'll need more pastry - perhaps try the amounts for three above.
I like the fact that this recipe doesn't have any other competing flavours - there are no spices, for instance. It's all about the sweet, simple flavour of the apple.
(adapted from Jane Grigson's Fruit Book)
For the pastry:
55g plain flour
pinch of fine sea salt
25g unsalted butter, cold
2 tbsp milk, cold
2 small Cox apples (or a similar variety)
2-4 tsp caster or brown sugar
4 small pieces of butter - maybe 10g total
double cream, to glaze and to serve
Preheat the oven to 200C/390F (fan). Sift or whisk the flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. Cube the butter and add it to the bowl and rub in (see foundation if you're unsure about rubbing in). Add most of the milk and bring together into a ball (if it doesn't, add the last dribble of milk). Split into two (they should be roughly 55g each), squish into discs and wrap in cling film. Chill for 15 minutes or more (can be kept overnight).
Peel the apples and cut the cores out with a corer. Plug one end of the core with a small piece of butter, then tip in one or two teaspoons of sugar. Plug the top with another piece of butter. Repeat for the other apple.
Take one of the pastry pieces out of the fridge, dust a work surface and roll out into a circle big enough that you can place the apple in the middle and bring the sides up round it with a little spare to seal it together. Place the apple in the centre then bring two opposite sides up and press the seam together, then repeat with the other sides. Cut away the excess at the seams, leaving maybe half a centimetre. Press them together again, sealing the edges. Turn over and cut a small hole in the top. Use the offcuts to make a few pastry leaves to add to the top (cut out the shape then use a knife to gently press in the pattern). Brush the outside with a little bit of cream (you could also use egg wash but the cream is easier). Place them on a lightly greased baking tray.
Bake for 25-30 minutes (for small apples like this - increase if larger) until the apple is tender if you poke a tester through the hole in the top and the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot with cold double cream.
Three more apple recipes:
Apple & Cinnamon Layer Cake
Apple & Quince Pie