Perfect Pie Crust=Great Apple Dumplings

by Maria on November 17, 2009

SDC12853 croppedWith the holidays approaching ever so quickly, I thought now was as good a time as any to talk about the art of a perfect pie crust. Yes, yes, I know it is so easy to trot down the refrigerator isle and plop a couple pre-made ones into your cart…….BUT…..It is so fun to eat a pie that was made with love and a HOMEMADE pie crust!

Pie crust has a bad reputation for being difficult or touchy. I would have to agree only in the area of being touchy. It is not, I repeat, not, difficult.  Most pie crust recipes have no more then 5 or 6 ingredients and the hardest part is cutting or blending the shortening into pea-size pieces. If you have a decent pastry blender it is a piece of cake. I made a batch of pie crust dough today and took a nice slue of pictures to help you know what it should look like at each step along the way.

The recipe is my mom’s, and it is no secret that she makes a great pie. So you should feel pretty lucky to be getting this recipe.

In a large bowl, mix well:
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
Cut in: (using two knives or a pastry blender)
2 cups shortening
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Your goal is to get shortening pieces that are the size of peas.
Mix in a separate bowl:
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1 egg slightly beaten
1 cup COLD water
Form a well in the center of the flour and shortening mixture. Pour egg mixture into the well.
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Stir lightly with a fork until just blended.
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Then, using your hands, form mixture into a ball. Do not over work. This is what I am talking about when I say it can be a bit touchy.
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The secret to a good pie crust is handling it the least amount possible. If you mix it too much it will not be flaky.
Once the dough is in a ball you can roll it into the shell and top. Instead of pie, I made Apple Dumplings with my crust. One of our readers, Rebecca, suggested these dumplings as her favorite fall dessert. I have to say they were very tasty. We had some company over for dinner and we ate them up so fast I only got a couple pictures. I didn’t hear back from Rebecca for the complete recipe, but I worked with what she had left in her comment and they turned out great.
Here is what I did.
5 granny smith apples, peeled and cored
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnomon
craisins (optional) I didn’t put them in.
pie crust (see above recipe)
1/4 cup butter
1-1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
2 tsp vanilla flavoring or 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400°.  Place apple in the center of a piece of dough large enough to fit all the way around the apple. (The dough shoud be rolled out to a 1/4 inch thick.)
Fill center of apple with the brown sugar cinnamon mixture. Fold dough up around the apple, trim excess and seal. If you have skills, you could make a cute leaf and stem at the top. My skills are limited to nunchuck skills, so I just left them in a ball shape.
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Place in a baking dish and repeat with the remaining apples.
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For the sauce, combine the butter, sugar, water and vanilla in a sauce pan and boil for 5 minutes. Pour sauce over the apples and place in oven. Bake for 50 minutes.
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I checked mine every ten to fifteen minutes and basted them with the vanilla sauce. Serve with Ice Cream. In the words of Rachel Ray. YUMM-O!
Suzanne told me about a great apple dumpling recipe she tried that used cresent rolls and an orange juice sauce. I found a similar recipe over at Cherry Hill Cottage, but she used Mountain Dew instead of orange juice…hmmm sounds interesting. I have some cresent rolls in my fridge and tomorrow I am going to make them, but I will probably use orange juice.
Over on my other blog I posted a recipe for whole wheat bread that our family loves.  Have a great week and good luck with the pie crust.
*By the way, the pie crust can be frozen.  I like to make a batch and use some for a chicken pot pie and then freeze the rest for another time. You should be able to get 2 full pies out of this recipe, and may have enough left over to make a shell for a cream pie or some cinnamon sugar sticks for the kids. Just remember, if you are making shells, poke them all over with a fork and cook them on an upside down pan. It helps them not shrink.
Update: I just got an e-mail from Rebecca with the full recipe for her apple dumplings. Here is the link to it. They look fabulous and I can’t wait to try making this version of apple dumplings.

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