Mum’s Recipe for Michaelmas Dumplings – My mum’s recipe for fluffy apple filled dumplings that are cooked with seasonal blackberries. This is a wonderful way to end an autumn meal, whether it be for the family during the week or a celebratory dinner party. Serve these dumplings with fresh pouring cream or home-made custard.
And so the brambling continues in earnest….each day I spy a new cluster of plump, glistening blackberries in the hedgerows near our home. And each day I pop out to gather what I can before this loveliest of harvests is gone, always leaving some for the birds too of course. Today’s recipe for Mum’s Recipe for Michaelmas Dumplings is a classic…..a comforting recipe from my childhood, as mum would make these fluffy little dumplings every Michaelmas, or when the blackberries were in season, but definitely before Devil Spits Day* of course. This is a wonderful way to end an autumn meal, whether it be for the family during the week or a celebratory dinner party. I like to serve these dumplings with fresh pouring cream or home-made custard, which always gets gasps of appreciation from the assembled diners.
I’ve shared this recipe before, many years ago here, Michaelmas, Blackberries, Devils Spit Day and Michaelmas Dumplings. But, I thought it was time to update the photos and also add the recipe to one of my printable recipe cards, as shared below. The recipe was originally published by me in Country Kitchen Magazine, in October 2009, and proved to be very popular with the readers at the time, and as it still does when I make the recipe for my friend and family nowadays. In my article at the time, I also explained what Devil’s Spit Day was, which I will share again here, for your interest and curiosity, as it is a wonderful old country custom and piece of folklore which has some practical advice attached to it, as you will see below.
I have always loved this time of year and am fascinated with the ancient feast and festivals that surround this now mostly forgotten date. Although Michaelmas is celebrated on the 29th September, when the calendar was reformed in 1752, “Old Michaelmas Day” was moved to the 10th October. Old Michaelmas Day is also called Devil Spits Day*, and it’s the last day that blackberries should be picked, according to old British folklore. This is known as the day that the Devil came to earth. He fell from the skies straight onto a blackberry bush, whereupon he cursed the fruit, scorched them with his fiery breath, stamped on them and then spat on them making them unfit to eat. Although in my experience, they are usually a little past their sell-by date by this stage, a bit “blown” or maggoty, so practical and sage advice I think. Indeed there’s an old Irish proverb that says “On Michaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on blackberries” So, it must be true!
Mum’s recipe for Michaelmas Dumplings is shared below, and if like me you are lucky enough to have brambles at your disposal, then do try to make this recipe before they all disappear, or the devil comes to earth. If you don’t have brambles to pick, then frozen or shop-bought fresh blackberries will be fine in this recipe. I usually use Bramley Apples when I make this, but last time I used some lovely South African Pink Lady apples, with great success as you can see from the photos. That’s all for today, I will be back with some bread recipes soon, and also some more traveller’s tales to share too, have a wonderful weekend, Karen
|Prep time||20 minutes|
|Cook time||35 minutes|
|Total time||55 minutes|
|Misc||Child Friendly, Serve Hot|
|Occasion||Casual Party, Christmas, Formal Party, Halloween|
|By author||Karen Burns-Booth|
- 8 ozs (225g) freshly picked blackberries
- 1 medium sized cooking apple, Bramley apples are best
- 4 ozs (115g) Self Raising flour
- Pinch salt
- 1 oz (25g) butter or margarine
- White granulated sugar
- Cold milk
- ½-pint (300ml) water
A comforting recipe from my childhood, my mum would make these fluffy little dumplings every Michaelmas, or when the blackberries were in season, but before Devil Spits Day of course. This is a wonderful way to end an autumn meal, whether it be for the family during the week or a celebratory dinner party. Serve these dumplings with fresh pouring cream or home-made custard.
|Step 1||Wash the blackberries and then peel, core and quarter the cooking apple. Place the flour and the salt in a mixing bowl and with your fingertips; rub the butter or margarine into the flour. Stir in 3 level teaspoons of white sugar and then mix to a soft dough with about 4 tablespoons of cold milk.|
|Step 2||Divide the dumpling dough into 4 pieces on a floured board and carefully mould a piece around each quarter of an apple, making sure that the apple is completely covered.|
|Step 3||Dissolve about 1 tablespoon of sugar in the water in a medium sized saucepan and add the blackberries. Bring them to a gentle boil and then place the apple dumplings on top of the blackberries, cover the pan and simmer for 25 minutes, do NOT take the lid off for the first 15 minutes.|
|Step 4||Serve one apple dumpling per person with some of the blackberries spooned over the top; fresh pouring cream or custard makes a nice accompaniment.|
*Disclaimer: Thank you Spode and Le Creuset for my lovely gifts of dishes, bowls and casserole pots; they did not pay me, but sent them to me for review*
Karen’s new book will be published in Autumn/Winter 2018
More Blackberry Recipes:
Blackberry Fairy Cake Buns (Muffins)
Homemade Blackberry Jam
Seedless Blackberry Jam
Apple, Bramble & Pear Tray Bake
Pan-Fried Duck Breast Salad with Mixed Berries & Walnuts
Blackberry, Apple and Raspberry Tart
Jumble Berry Crumble with Shortbread Topping
Heirloom Apple or Fruit Tart
johanna @ green gourmet giraffe says
what a wonderful recipe – sadly no foraging here (though I am looking forward to summer fruit) but I still would love to try it – a nice way to remember your mum.
Karen Burns-Booth says
Thank you so much Johanna, you can make this recipe with frozen blackberries too, if you wish! Thank you for your kind comments about my mum too, it’s still early days and I sometimes wake up and think she’s still alive 🙁
Shelagh Garside says
These were lovely 🙂 I’ve only had savoury suet dumplings before, so these were new to me. We all really enjoyed them. Having them after sausage casserole with rice wasn’t a good idea though – I can’t move now!
Karen Burns-Booth says
Thanks so much for leaving me a message here Shelagh! I am SO pleased that you enjoyed my mum’s recipe! Karen
Karen, I love food stories and yours are the best. No worries about the devil spiting on the blackberries here, they’re all picked eaten, frozen, jammed and pickled. Luckily though, I’ve a few kilos in the freezer. We’re having our Manchester brother-in-law and my wife’s sis over for dinner this weekend. I’m going to make this and see what he says. Thanks for sharing.
What a wonderful recipe. Like a previous person, I have only made dumplings and the pastry with suet in the past. I shall be making these … but probably not eating for a fortnight afterwards!!
Incidentally, my mother had the Radiation Cookery Book, which is a much later edition than yours, it is 1954, where I note you have taken the fruit tart recipe from, but I have always kept it and often referred to it. Even though I have so many more modern cookery books, I have always loved this book.
I shall definitely be buying your book, which looks lovely, later in the year.
Thank you so much for such wonderful recipes … I’m so glad Mary ‘introduced’ me to you!!
Karen Burns-Booth says
Thank you so much for your lovely comments Valerie and sorry for the late reply, but I have been away for 10 days with little or no internet!
I am wondering who Mary is too?! 🙂 I do know a Mary in Oregon, maybe it is her?