Apple Dumplings, by Chef Zach

Fall's bounty gives us bushels of apples. I could fit in a bushel basket, so that's a lot. Here's a fine specimen; red, juicy, good-for-you-healthy-fruit.

But why eat plain apples when you can add sugar, cinnamon & a flaky pastry crust? No, we must take dominion of the apple! Let's make dumplings!

For any project to succeed, you need a good, reliable staff. Mom seemed to be handy about the kitchen, and she could reach the oven knobs, so I drafted her.

Ready to make dumplings? Good. Start with the pastry.

Cut together 3 cups flour, 1.5 cups butter, 1 tsp salt & 5-6 Tbsp cold water.

Frequently taste the dough to make sure it's just right, then roll half of it into a big square.

Peel and core 8 SMALL apples. Tossing them into the air then shooting out the core with a rifle is a good way to do this, but my staffer suggested an apple corer. No fun, but it got the job done.

Cut the dough into 4 squares (I'm still learning geometry, you'll notice), then place an apple on each. Spoon into the center some sugar and cinnamon, then add a good glob of butter. We're real technical with our measurements, as you can tell.

We think pastry cutters are overrated and prefer the old fashioned two-knife method of cutting in the butter.

Pretend it's Christmas and wrap each apple in its square of dough. No bows needed.

If you feel really ambitious, you can shape the dough on top to resemble a little stem and apple leaf. Since I'm only two, I can only make snakes and blobs, so I went for the "country rustic" look instead.

Repeat with the other half of dough and 4 more apples. Little apples make just the right size dumpling to eat. Big dumplings are a meal in themselves, which isn't bad, in my opinion. This is a good time to wrap up any extra dumplings in foil and freeze them for later. I follow Noah's example and wrap them in pairs.

Here they are, ready to go in the oven, but first they need some special syrup to bake in. Like Mom, dumplings should get the full spa treatment.

2 cups water
1.5 cups sugar
0.5 tsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp butter

Boil that together then pour over the dumplings. That's enough for all 8 dumplings.

Bake them for 40 min at 400 degrees. Reading a good book is a great thing to do while waiting. Oh, and those dumplings need to be basted after 20 min. I was too absorbed in my book, so my staff handled that little detail for me.

My staff mutnied at this point, insisting I didn't know how to read. So I thought I better look productive and help clean up a bit. Flour can really spread through a kitchen!

Finally! A nice, hot dumpling! They go great with PBJ and carrots (I'd rather skip the carrots, but my staff gets stubborn at times). Oh well, the dumplings are WAY too hot to eat right away, so I guess I'll enjoy lunch while waiting for it too cool.

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