Apple Dumplings

It's apple picking season! However, it seems we here in California may not have as many apples this year as we're used to (can you say drought???). Of course, we Californians aren't used to suffering, so we just truck them in from Washington state, which, really, is the best place to get them from anyway.

On Monday I started a juice cleanse as all this baking has made me less than svelte plus my skin has been looking a wee bit un-pretty. Besides, a good internal cleaning can't be bad, right?

Knowing I'd be consuming only fresh vegetable juices for an eternity 3 days, it seemed fitting to bake something wonderful this past Sunday night. What could I make out of ingredients we had on hand that wouldn't incur any leftovers that I may not be able to resist during aforementioned juice fast?

It just so happened we had some of those gorgeous Washington apples I mentioned and you know I always have butter, flour, sugar and cinnamon. After whipping up some pie crust dough (there's extra in the freezer for when you visit, Dad), I rolled it out, cut the apples in half, dusted them with a tablespoon of brown sugar, a sprinkling of cinnamon and a pat of butter and wrapped it all in these fabulous oversized ramekins I recently bought with my friend Barb at a neighborhood shop. Topped with vanilla ice cream, these were the easiest, homiest, most lovely desserts I've made in a while. Perhaps it was the fall equinox, or that autumn is my favorite season, but it felt like my little family was kicking this season off with a BANG! I mean, the house smelled of cinnamon. The brown sugar and melted butter pooled into a gorgeous caramel sauce. The homemade buttery pie crust was divine. It really doesn't get any better. This is why I bake. The scents, the feeling, the satisfaction, the smiles on my husband and daughter's faces. That's IT. My love story in a nutshell.

Now, if you were feeling less euphoric about fall, or simply didn't want to make the effort, buy yourself some pie crust dough (I like the Pillsbury sheets you find in the cold section near the cookie dough - or sometimes it's in the deli aisle) and wrap apples (or pears, peaches, any of the more solid fruits will work) and be done with it. Either way, I'll bet you experience the same joy we did with spoonful after spoonful of this very homemade-tasting dessert.

Let me know!



P.S Pillsbury is just my preference in a pinch. This post was not sponsored in any way and please do NOT tell my mom that, on occasion, I use store-bought pie crust dough.

Apple Dumplings
Serves 4
2 Fuji, Honeycrisp or Granny Smith apples, peeled, halved and cored
4 T brown sugar, plus more for dusting
1 T butter, cut into four cubes plus more for dolloping (you'll see)
1 t cinnamon, divided into quarters
Pie crust for one double pie (recipe follows)

Simple All-Butter Pie Crust
Makes 2, 9" pie crusts or one double pie crust
1-1/4 C Flour
1 C whole wheat pastry flour (or use regular if you don't have it)
14 T cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
7 T ice water
1T apple cider or white vinegar
1T sugar
1/4 t salt
1/4 t baking powder

Process* the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in 3-5 pulses, until thoroughly mixed. Add in the butter and pulse another 3-5 times. With your food processor running, quickly add in 5T water and the vinegar and stop the machine. If it looks dry, add in the rest of the water. If not, pull it out, divide it and freeze for 30 minutes.

*Note: you can do all of this by hand. Take your rings off and get dirty using the same steps above. Enjoy.
To make the dumplings: Preheat the oven to 375.

Cut your pie crust dough into quarters and roll it into 4 circles. They do not have to be perfect and they'll look more homemade if they're not. Set an apple half face up on each circle and drop 1T brown sugar, 1/4 T butter and 1/4 t cinnamon onto each. Wrap them up and place onto a baking sheet (or in a ramekin or other baking dish if you have the right size) and dust with a little more brown sugar and one more dollop of butter. You'll be glad you did. (See? This is why I need a juice cleanse.)
I crimped the edges here a wee bit. You can just spread the dough over top, too!
Bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Let cool about 15-20 minutes and add a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Dig in!

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