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Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Dumplings

– from Christiana Campbell's Tavern
Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia

Serves 4

Pastry Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup all­vegetable shortening
  • 1¾ cups all­purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Apples Ingredients:

  • 4 small tart apples, such as Granny Smith
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 1 tablespoons dark rum
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter

Syrup Ingredients:

  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. To make the pastry, combine the shortening, flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Using on and off pulsing action, combine until the mixture resembles fine meal. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces, and pulse a few times, or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of the ice water, and pulse a few times. The mixture should hold together when pinched. Add more water, if necessary. (This can also be done using a pastry blender or two knives.) Scrape the pastry onto a floured board, form it into a ball, and wrap it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes,
  2. Preheat the oven to 450°F. While the pastry is chilling, peel and core the apples. Divide the raisins and rum into the core holes, and place 1 teaspoon of butter in each core hole. Combine the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes, and set aside.
  3. Divide the pastry into 4 parts. Form one part into a ball, and place it between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. Flatten with your hands into a "pancake." Roll the pastry into a circle large enough to cover the apple. Place an apple in the center, and bring up the sides to encase it. Pinch the top together, holding the dough with a little water. If the folds seem thick, trim them off and seal the seams with water. Repeat with the remaining apples.
  4. Place the apples on a baking sheet, and brush them with the syrup. Place them in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 330"F, and brush again with the syrup. Bake an additional 35 minutes, brushing every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Note: The pastry and syrup can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated. The apples should be peeled just prior to baking.