These apple dumplings are fabulous! As soon as it starts getting cool outside, these go in the oven. They look like they're hard to make, but the effort is totally worth it. This is one of my favorite recipes.
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a mixing bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the cold water and then mix the dough with your hands.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pack it into a ball. Knead it once or twice. Then dust it with flour and divide it into 5 pieces (one for each apple). Flatten each piece into a 1/2 inch disk, wrap the disks individually in plastic wrap, and chill them for about 1 hour.
While the dough chills, core and peel the apples, leaving the lower third unpeeled so the fruit will hold together when cooked. Set the apples aside. Then butter a large, shallow baking dish and heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Working with one piece of dough at a time (while keeping the others chilled), roll the pastry into an 8 inch circle on a lightly floured surface, dusting your pin, if necessary, to keep it from sticking. Place an apple in the center of the circle. Fill one core loosely with raisins (I also add a little brown sugar) and press a teaspoon size dab of butter into the top.
Cut triangular wedges about 2 inches long out of the pastry at the 12,3,6,and 9 o'clock positions. Reserve these scraps to make pastry leaves later.
Using a pastry brush, lightly moisten all the dough edges with water. Fold one panel of the pastry up over the apple, followed by the adjacent panel, pressing them together to seal the seams. Fold up the remaining panels in this fashion as well.
Pinch the pastry together at the top of the apple to enclose the entire fruit, making sure the dough is well sealed and shaping the best stem you can manage. Cut leaves from the remaining pastry scraps. Brush the underside with water and gently press them onto the pastry-covered apple. Arrange the dumplings in the buttered baking dish, spaced evenly apart.
Bake the dumplings on the center oven rack for 15 minutes while you prepare the sauce.
Combine the remaining butter (there should be about 2 tablespoons), cider, water, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium-size saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat.
after 15 minutes of baking time, reduce the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the dumplings from the oven and baste each one with some of the sauce. Pour the rest of the sauce into the pan and continue baking the dumplings for about 30 minutes, basting every 15 minutes. When the apples are tender (check with a toothpick), transfer the pan to a cooling rack. ENJOY!!! Serves 5