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Sunday, August 22, 2004

IMBB #7 - Apple-Blackberry Dumplings

The theme of the seventh Is My Blog Burning? is "You're Just the Cutest Little Dumpling!".

Now dumplings cover a lot of ground, both sweet and savory. They aren't even all alike, as some are yummy things enclosed in some sort of dough (apple dumplings, or kuo teh [we call these "pot stickers" on the west coast of the US but they are called "dumplings" in other places - in any case these are the tasty Chinese appetizers]) and baked, steamed, or fried or the dough itself dropped in some simmering liquid and cooked there until done. And it's absolutely no wonder that they have made it into the language as a term of affection; while dumplings seem to be slightly out of fashion these days, they are good homey food, the type of thing that your grandmother would make for you and perhaps with you on a winter's afternoon.

I was, however, at some loss as to what to make, as I do not come from a dumpling tribe. I pondered the idea of getting firm peaches from the market and wrapping them in dough (as it is summer, even if I live in a cool climate), and I got some kuo teh wrappers from the store, and resolved to get some more practice making Chinese dumplings. (My first attempt was an abject failure - couldn't get 'em to seal.)

And then I looked out my kitchen window and saw my apple tree. I went into the yard and saw this:

The apple tree

Well, it is late August and some of the early apples are ripening here in California.

Additional inspiration came from an issue of "Food and Wine" magazine; a story about a society caterer had a dish of apples poached in Sauternes with blackberries. Well, I have been at some trouble to eradicate the thicket of Himalaya blackberries that once completely overran my yard, but one last stand still remained between the garage and the fence:


So apple-blackberry it was.

I used a recipe I had found on a google search for recipes on southernfood.about.com, slightly modified:


1 cup flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1/3 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients together, cut shortening in, add milk to make a soft dough.

Roll dough out thin (recipe said 1/8", I am not that neat-handed with pastry) and cut in large squares (recipe recommends 6-7" but I used smaller).

Core and peel apples.

Wrap apples in dough, putting a pat of butter, some brown sugar, and some spices (I used some powdered ginger and Penzey's Cake Spice) in the core. I also stuck a couple of blackberries in and folded up the corners of the pastry.

I baked them in a buttered dish at 450 for 15 minutes and then poured some syrup over it I had made with 2 tablespoons butter (melted), 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 3/4 cup hot water. Then I reduced to 350 F and baked for about 25 minutes more.

The dumplings were definitely not cute because I should have made slightly more pastry for the four small apples I used and it fell apart in places and did not come together in others. (The amount given above would work nicely for three.) But they sure smelled good.

Dough-wrapped goodness

For the eating, I, like Clotilde, have a penchant for things pink, so I used a pink-and-white Limoges soup bowl that was originally my great-grandmother's.

Pink, pastry, what's not to like?

This also helped to contain the sauces. I continued along the English theme for those; one was a simple blackberry coulis (blackberries, sugar, a little lemon, pureed in the FP), and the other creme anglais ... yep, custard. American style would be with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, although my own dear grandmother would have probably floated some heavy cream on the lot.

I will say that while the insides were good, the pastry left a bit to be desired; more shortening, or butter, so it was closer to flaky pie dough would probably have helped it some.

Now if you will excuse me ... it is dinner time and I feel like going out for Chinese food, heavy on the potstickers.

You tried to eradicate blackberry bushes that were proliferating too quickly, and you have apples in your backyard? Apartment dwelling cooks like me all over the world just fell over with envy.

Great recipe.
Charlotte - these look delicious - what a wonderful combination. How lucky you are to have apples and blackberries in your backyard!
wow, these look great! I can't wait to try this for a winter dinner dessert offering! By the way, I like your blog's premise. I have some musings regarding food and spirituality that I have written in my personal journal, but haven't posted...maybe it's time!
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