This recipe for apple dumpling scrolls comes from Knoxville, Tennessee. I went to college in Knoxville and after graduation I was offered a job as an assistant to a work glove manufacturer just across the river from the UT football stadium.
I went to college to become a teacher but then I met this man at a party and he offered me a job at a salary way above what a beginning teacher made (at the time teachers salaries were barely enough to eke out a living). I started out as his assistant but he was a really lovely man and he liked me and decided that he could teach me how to run a factory with 350 employees. He did.
When I went into the factory to work, I was pretty new as a manager type and I was young – both of which worked against me but what was worst of all was my Yankee accent. “Ya’ll don’t know how to talk way up there in that snow place,” they’d tell me. My boss was from the same town in New York that my sister lived so he was a Yankee too. That’s probably why he liked me.
The company had been going for many many years and there was a tradition that the company would have lunch before Thanksgiving catered for everyone. One of the women who worked as a leather cutter called me aside one day and said, “You know, Maureen, most of the workers in this place are country women and what we’d like is for all of us to bring a dish and you buy the ham and turkey.”
This was NOT how things had been done before so I wasn’t sure how to approach the boss but I was all for it. I set up a meeting with him and talked about a few things and finally he said, “Okay, what is it, you’ve been sitting there like a worm in hot ashes for 20 minutes.” I told him what we wanted and he said, “You’re in charge, why bother me with this?” I told him something stupid about tradition and not wanting to upset anyone.
He thought it was a great idea too. Who knew? The woman who started all this was Mae Parton, Dolly’s cousin. A few days before the lunch I was asking about a job she was doing and offhandedly asked what she was bringing to the lunch. She smiled and said it was her family secret recipe for apple dumpling scrolls. “Why is it a secret?” I asked.
“Ya’ll know that the Partons is a big family and we all take to cookin like a duck to water,” she said. You have to say that with a country Tennessee accent, try it. or rather trah it. “We all try to outdo each other at family gatherings and this is my secret recipe that I won’t share with the family.” So it was her recipe she kept secret from her own family. Funny woman.
The day of the lunch came and getting everything organized for 350 employees was tricky because there were the downstairs leather cutters who had their own lunchroom and then the fabric cutters had their own lunchroom and then all the machine operators worked upstairs in their own place. I wanted them all together and I didn’t want food over all the gloves. We moved crap for days to fit enough tables in but finally it was all done and people started bringing in their dishes. I’d hired a little coolroom and brought in several microwaves and we were in business.
Lunch was fantastic and can those women cook! When it was time for dessert I wanted to get to Mae’s apple dumpling scrolls before they were all gone. My heart sank when I saw the dish was empty by the time I got there. I felt a tap on my shoulder and Mae passed me a bowl she’d saved for me. Good thing or we wouldn’t be sharing this recipe now! It was SO good. After Thanksgiving I asked how much she’d charge for that recipe. She laughed because she’d already written it out for me.
I hope you try it. One thing I didn’t do this time because I wasn’t paying attention was to cut the apples into small chunks. It’s been busy around here.
Yesterday John’s dad took a ride to the hospital in an ambulance and then they made him spend the night. He’s fine-ish and needs some follow-up care but a full recovery is expected. He IS 93. As my wonderful French grandmother used to say, “I been busy.”
- 354 grams / 12.5 oz plain flour
- 284 grams / 2½ sticks cold butter, chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons cold water
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used fresh)
- 6 apples, chopped into small pieces
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons flour
- This pie crust is the easiest, flakiest crust you'll ever make and it's nearly foolproof.
- In a food processor add the sugar, salt and ⅔ of the flour and whiz to combine.
- Scatter the butter over the flour and whiz in short bursts until there is no flour to be seen.
- Add the remaining ⅓ of the flour to the food processor and whiz 5 quick bursts and dump the contents into a mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle the cold water over the mixture and with a spatula, press the dough until it just comes together.
- Form into a flat-ish circle and cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Add all the ingredients to a large saucepan and whisk to combine. Bring to the boil and boil until there are 2 cups of syrup - about 5-7 minutes usually.
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F
- Roll dough to a large rectangle.
- Spread the apple pieces over the dough, leaving the last 2 inches at the top uncovered.
- Mix the ½ cup sugar, cinnamon and flour and sprinkle over the apples.
- Starting from the long side nearest you, carefully roll the dough, tucking in the apples. (some will try to escape, let them go)
- When you get to the end, press the dough with no apples to seal the log.
- With a sharp knife, cut the log into 1½ inch pieces and place in a 9x13 baking pan, cut side up.
- Once all the pieces are in the pan, pour over the syrup and place in the oven.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.
- Serve with ice cream for a smashing dessert.