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
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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)
Sauce:
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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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate November 17, 2009 at 7:57 am

I want to eat it NOW!!! For breakfast, and of course it has all the right ingredients to make it ok to eat for breakfast right….. It has apple in it……..yum yum

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Rebecca November 17, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Again…so sorry I didn’t check my email sooner!

I just wanted to comment that if you want your apple dumplings to look like the picture from Relish Magazine (last link in post), pour your sauce into the bottom of the pan…NOT over the apples. That helps the pie crust hold its shape and brown evenly. Then, when you serve them, you can scoop some sauce into the individual bowls. I CANNOT wait to make these again. They are a new favorite!

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Suzanne November 17, 2009 at 4:34 pm

Yum, you make me hungry every post! I love apple recipes this time of year. Great pics Maria.

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Jileen November 17, 2009 at 5:14 pm

After buying pre-made pie crusts for the last several years, I had recently decided that I was going to return to my roots and make homemade crusts this year. My mom has always been an amazing pie maker and I could never make my crusts like hers. Maybe this year will be my year! Thanks for the recipe, Maria. It’s looks so yummy!

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Rebecca November 19, 2009 at 8:51 am

I LOVE them gooey! I checked out the other website but I still think I will baste. Yum! Thanks for sharing!

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Kate November 19, 2009 at 6:33 pm

OMG, I made them and they are officially my new favourite dessert for autumn! Now to start walking off the calories. I did use currents but that is more to do with my memories of my granny’s baked stuffed apples.. oh and her suet pudding with blackberries and apples…. covered with thick Cornish cream……………… ah I have died and gone to heaven. Keep ‘em comin’ Maria but bear in mind that if I get too over weight I will be seeking gastric bypass surgery on your insurance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YUM YUM.

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candace November 19, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Okay so I was looking for a dessert to make for an upcoming gathering that I am hosting…BADA-BOOM, I think this is the one! And judging by the rave reviews it’s already received (via your comment section) I have a feeling it’s sure to be a show stopper.

Thanks so much for digging up all these amazing recipes Maria! You are making my life so much easier:)

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Fred October 22, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Why are apple dumplings called “dumplings” when they are made with a pie dough?

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Maria October 28, 2010 at 6:24 pm

good question.

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Michelle June 12, 2012 at 9:05 am

This is the exact recipe my grandmother taught me I won’t say how many years ago. Talk about tried and true. I too will be trying the dumplings, thanks!

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