One of the main fruits of Autumn is the humble apple, which here in Australia come in a wide variety of colours, flavours and textures. Some are hard, some are soft, some are sweet and some are sour … but all are delicious – you simply need to pick the correct apple for the purpose required, be it eaten raw, cooked or liquified.
Although here, the traditional method of enjoying apples on a cool Autumn evening might be in a generous serve of apple pie or a slow-baked apple crumble – why not try an apple dumpling instead.
My version uses Dutch ‘applebollen’ and Germanic ‘dampfnudel’ as its inspiration, without the need to make a leavened dough or allow for long, slow steaming.
Makes 8 to 10 (depending on size)
Ingredients – dough
2½ cups plain flour
250 grams butter (cold)
2 tablespoons sugar
good pinch of salt
½ to ⅔ cup cold water
1 egg to create some egg wash for sealing and glazing the dumplings
Ingredients – filling
6 medium apples – peeled and sliced (see below)
juice and zest of 1 lemon or orange + extra to stop discolouring
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sultanas
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup plain flour
¼ cup finely chopped nuts – optional
* tart granny smith apples are traditional, but I like to use a combination of 2 or 3 different apples ie granny smith, pink lady and red delicious – the filling is sweeter and you get different textures.
Ingredients – caramel sauce
1 cup brown sugar
60 grams butter
¼ cup cream
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Commence by making the dough. Place the flour, butter, sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Next gradually add the water a little at a time until the dough comes together.
The amount of water needed will depend on the weather conditions and how dry the flour is. In cool, wet conditions you tend to need less water than in dry, summer conditions.
2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead together until it comes together as a solid ball. Flatten the ball into a disc shape and wrap in cling film and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill and harden.
3. Prepare the filling by peeling the apples, slicing them into quarters and removing the core. Place the quartered apple pieces into a bowl filled with water and a squeeze of lemon juice (if you like – to prevent discolouring). Repeat for the remaining apples.
4. Once all the apples have been peeled and quartered – slice each quarter section of apple into 3 or 4 pieces and place into a microwave safe container. Zap the sliced apples on high heat for 2 minutes.
5. Remove container from microwave and add brown sugar and lemon/orange juice and zest. Stir through the apples and zap for a further 2 minutes in the microwave.
6. Remove container from the microwave and add sultanas and cinnamon, stir well and allow to sit for 5 – 10 minutes so it cools, then add the flour and mix well so a thick sauce is created and all the apple pieces are coated. If you wish to add nuts, do so now and allow the filling to cool completely.
7. To create the dumplings, remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a floured surface. Dust the upper surface and using a rolling pin gently roll out the dough to create one large sheet approximately 2 or 3 mm thick.
Some people find it easier if they cut the disc of dough in half and roll each half separately.
8. Next cut the sheet of pastry dough into 12 – 15 cm wide sections/strips. and then those strips should be cut crossways so as to create a number of squares – each approximately 12 – 15 cm each side.
9. To create the dumpling place a square of dough on a flat surface and put a heaped spoonful of filling into the centre of the square. DO NOT OVERFILL the square, you want to be able to fold the dough across the filling and seal it.
10. Using the egg wash and a pastry brush, coat the exposed pastry surface around the filling. Then take a corner of the pastry square and fold it over the filling so it comes to the middle of the filling. Holding it in place, take the corner next to the folded section and also fold it into the centre of the square. The second fold should slightly overlap the adjoining edge of the first fold and gently press it into the first folded section so the two sections stick together.
11. Repeat with the remaining 2 corners of the pastry to create a sealed dumpling.
To reinforce the folded edges of the dumpling and to decorate it, cut leaf shaped pieces of excess pastry and attach them with egg wash over the folded edges of the dumpling.
12. Place the completed dumpling on a baking paper lined tray and repeat with all the remaining squares of pastry.
13. Place the tray of formed dumplings into the refrigerator until you are ready to bake. Pre-heat an oven to 180 ᵒC, brush each dumpling with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes until golden and brown.
14. To make the caramel sauce, place all the ingredients in a small pot and heat gently over medium heat until the butter has fully melted. Then using a small hand whisk beat the liquid as it cooks for 5 minutes. The mixture will bubble and rise as it cooks, if necessary turn it to low so it does not overflow the pot.
15. To serve place a good dollop of caramel sauce on the base of a plate. Place the hot/warm dumpling onto the caramel and dust with icing sugar. You may also add a dollop of thickened cream or ice-cream to cut through the sweetness of the caramel and dumpling.