Baked apples wrapped in a coat of buttery pastry
Apple dumplings date back to the 17th century: they’re simply baked apples wrapped in a coat of buttery pastry. The delicious crust traps all the juices and fragrance. It’s the moment to use up all sorts of tasty dried fruits and nuts that you may have lurking in the cupboard.
4 delicious dessert or dual-purpose apples—I used Herefordshire russets
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp chopped dried fruit—I used figs but apricots, dates or sultanas would be delicious too.
2 tbsp brandy, calvados or rum
1 tbsp roughly chopped nuts, such as hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios
3 tbsp ground almonds
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp muscovado or other brown sugar
250g puff pastry (I cheated with all-butter bought stuff)
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 220C. Peel the apples and remove the cores, leaving about 2cm flesh at the bottom. I find it easiest to remove a plug with a knife and then excavate with a melon baller to give a decent size cavity for the filling. Roll the apples around in the lemon juice in a bowl to stop them discolouring.
Now place the dried fruit in a small pan with the alcohol and bring to the boil. Switch off and leave the fruit to plump up while you prepare the rest of the stuffing.
Mix together the remaining ingredients and then tip in the fruit and alcohol. Carefully spoon as much of the filling as possible into the apples, be generous, you can really pile it on top.
Now use a piece of foil to check what size your pastry squares must be to enclose the apples. Roll out the pastry very thinly and cut into your 4 squares.
Place the apple in the centre of each square and pull up the corners as if you were forming a new stem. Pinch together the sides, chop off the excess pastry and use this to make a few leaves.
Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and stick on the leaves. Bake in the oven on a tray for about 20- 25 mins, until golden brown. Eat while hot with cream, clotted cream or honeyed yoghurt.
Recipe: Jenny Chandler