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The Citrus Ingredient That Takes Apple Dumplings To The Next Level

Apple dumplings in wooden bowl
Apple dumplings in wooden bowl - Nikolay_donetsk/Getty Images

When apple season rolls around, apple treats abound -- pies, crumbles, cakes, bars, you name it. Apple dumplings are a particularly fun seasonal treat: Warm baked apple slices or whole-cored apples wrapped in a buttery pastry crust. Some apple dumpling recipes feature a syrupy sauce made of apple cider, apple juice, or even water mixed with sugar. However, for a sweet and slightly citrus-forward substitute, using a lemon-lime soda like Mountain Dew can also get the job done.

Soda might seem like an unusual choice for basting a baked good like an apple dumpling, but the results are just as delicious as any other variation on the classic recipe. The pop is sometimes mixed with a combination of sugar, cinnamon, and butter or simply poured into the bottom of the baking dish alongside the dumplings. Regardless of preparation, it cooks in the oven and turns into a delicious, sticky-sweet topping for these oven-baked treats. When the unusual combination all comes together, it just makes sense.

Read more: Cake Hacks Every Baker Will Wish They Knew Sooner

Lemon-Lime Soda Adds A Sweet, Citrusy Pop

Apple dumplings on wooden table
Apple dumplings on wooden table - Benjaminsullivan/Getty Images

This soda trick is a quick and easy way to get a heavenly syrup glaze on your apple dumplings with fewer ingredients and less fuss. Soda already contains all the important ingredients for a reduced syrup: water and sugar. As the dumplings cook in the oven, the soda slowly simmers, thickening into a lightly flavored sauce that coats the bottom of the dumplings and can be spooned on top for extra deliciousness.

There's another reason why lemon-lime soda works so well, and that's its acidic flavor. Adding a pop of citrus is common in fruit desserts; often, recipes will call for a hint of lemon zest or a squeeze of juice to add brightness, contrast, and a little zing to heavy, sugary fruit fillings. This serves a similar purpose: The soda's lemon-lime flavoring lightens up the apple dumpling's heaviness, adding a touch of freshness, even though it comes from a can or bottle.

Even Traditional Apple Dumplings Featured Citrus

screen print of apple dumplings
screen print of apple dumplings - Graphicaartis/Getty Images

Of course, the first recipes for apple dumplings don't call for lemon-lime sodas. The origins of these seasonal treats date back to 18th century England, long before Mountain Dew was available in stores. These traditional dumplings were served as a simple dessert at the time; they were boiled or steamed rather than baked, with no syrup on the exterior. The crust was less of a flaky, traditional pie crust and had a soft, spoonable texture from the wet cooking process.

Yet even back then, many recipes still called for some form of citrus. Some older apple dumpling recipes incorporated citrus in the form of marmalade or zested orange or lemon rinds. Some also include sultanas or raisins in the interior filling for additional tartness and texture. Still, others call for varieties of jam, including raspberry, which also provides a contrasting hint of sourness. Variations abound, but adding that bit of acidity makes all the difference: With all our modern conveniences, a glug or two of lemon-lime soda will substitute just fine.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.