Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baked Apple Dumplings

Both my parents and parents in-law were due around for a dinner party.  I planned to cook three courses from scratch and decided that dessert was the perfect opportunity to make another recipe from the Wickham Terrace City Tabernacle Girls Missionary Recipe Book. 

Baked Apple Dumplings (Mrs. Cronau)
page 31
  • 4 - 5 apples (Granny Smith are best)
  • 2 tab sultanas or currants
  • 2 tab chopped walnuts*
  • 1 tab chopped macadamias*
  • 1 tab chopped hazelnuts.*
  • 1 tsp isabella grape jam*
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon*
  • 4 - 5 sheets of pre-made shortcrust pastry.
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tab castor sugar

Mix the currants/sultanas, chopped nuts cinnamon and jam. 
 Peel and core the apples.  (The bigger the cored part the better). 
Fill the centers with the sultana mixture. 
Cut a circle out of each pastry sheet.  Wrap this around the stuffed apple so that the pastry meets at the top of the apple like a little sack.
Bake these in a moderate (180 degrees celcius) for 15 - 20 minutes.  
Just before they are done, brush each with a little egg white and sprinkle with sugar.  Return to the oven to finish.  

(Serving suggestions - with vanilla ice-cream or custard)

* These are additions to the recipe made by myself and not part of the original recipe.

My Results and Notes

You will notice that I made some additions to the recipe.  Instead of just stuffing the apples with unappealing sultanas I made a mixture with nuts, sultanas, cinnamon and a little grape jam to hold it all together.  I know this is not 100% true to the original recipe however I have seen recipes from much earlier time period (back to Regency times) which have stuffed apples with a mix of dried fruit, nuts and spices so I felt it was a justifiable change. 

It was a remarkably easy dessert to prepare and bake.    I suspect I could have made the dumplings look a great deal prettier (that is, wrapped more neatly and perhaps decorated with a little pastry apple leaf ontop) if I hadn't been preparing two other meal courses at the same time.  

I peel my apples in one continuous strip like in the photo above.   Whenever I do this I remember how my grandma taught me how to do this when I was a little girl.   After I managed to get it right in one go she advised me that if you threw the completed apple peel over your shoulder it would land on the ground in such a way that you might be able to pick out the initials of your future husband.  I've since thrown many an apple peel over my shoulder and inspected it carefully to see if it spelled out the initials I was hoping to see at the time.   

However, since I'm now a happily married woman there was no apple peel throwing.  Instead I just smiled fondly and remembered my grandma as I always do when peeling apples.

The dessert was well received.  My father in-law commented that it was "like a new take on Grandma's apple pie".  Though I enjoyed the dumpling very much I think there are a few changes I would make next time I make these (and there WILL be a next time!).

1) I will make the pastry from scratch instead of using store bought pastry.  The pre-made pastry had a salty, savoury tang to it and I would have preferred a slightly sweetened shortcrust instead. 
2) I will bake it just a little longer.  I was anxious to get these out on the table and cut the cooking time short by about 5 minutes.   The apple inside the dumplings was softened but I thought it was still a little too firm for my liking.
3) I will try to wrap the dumplings more neatly and use the leftover pastry to make pastry leaves to decorate the top of the dumpling.  

I hope you give this recipe a try as it really is an easy and quick dessert using simple ingredients but it is delicious and is unusual enough to make an impression.   If you do try this out I'd love to hear about it, see a picture or get a link to your blog entry about it! 

Notes on Mrs Cronau
I thought that Cronau would be a fairly unique and distinctive name.  I was definitely wrong!  There are a number of 'Mrs Cronau's in the Brisbane newspapers around the 1930s.   Amongst all of these there are two ladies who stand out because of their links to the Baptist church.

The first is a Mrs C. Cronau who was voted in as the President of the Baptist Minster's Wives Union in 1929.   Later, in 1932 Mrs Cronau left Brisbane with her husband (a Baptist minister) to live in Sydney.   

The second and more likely is a Mrs E. Cronau who was listed as the president of the Baptist Girls Union (the very group who produced the cookbook) in articles from both 1928 and 1939.  It seems she was also a deaconess who made a pretty speech at a birthday party where three generations of ladies from the Kent family were present. 

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