Food Photography » Photography challenge » Apple and caramel dumplings – DHSPC #3
Food Photography Photography challenge

Apple and caramel dumplings – DHSPC #3


Autumn has arrived in full force. Days of cold and rain are interchanged with lovely sunny but chilly days. The leaves are falling and the ones that hang on with all their might, will soon succumb to the force of the wind and fall down to the ground. Autumn for me is also the perfect time for comforting dishes. Dishes that make you feel loved, warm and cosy inside or as this cover of the Donna Hay Magazine says ; “warm the soul”. I could certainly not say it any better then that. So for the 3rd installment of the Donna Hay Styling and Photography challenge I figured this would make the perfect dish for this time of year; Apple and caramel dumplings. Photo by William Meppem and styling Justine Poole ( I can’t seem to find a website of her.. Anyone knows?)

In terms of the photo that goes with this gorgeous recipe; don’t be fooled by it’s apparent simplicity. For me this image oozes comfort, warmth and autumn. Make sure to look at all the elements and think of how they work together to make this is a cover worthy image. And if you do not have that exact pan, use something similar. You know the drill… Not mandatory to use the exact same items! But do pay attention to textures used, materials used and placement of items. But let’s first start by giving you the recipe you’ve all been waiting for.

Apple and Caramel Dumplings


  • 300g self-raising flour (sifted)
  • 45g brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150g butter (cold, chopped)
  • 125ml milk
  • 12 small apples (red)

caramel sauce

  • 60g butter
  • 265g brown sugar
  • 625ml water


  1. Preheat oven to 180 C (320 F). To make the caramel sauce, place the butter, sugar and water in a large, heavy-based saucepan over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Place the flour, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl and stir to combine. Ad the butter and, using your fingertips, rub it into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add the milk, stirring until a dough forms. Divide the dough into 6 round pieces, place into the caramel mixture and top with the apples. Bake for 30 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked when tested with a skewer.

the size of the apples used in this recipe is really fairly small. There is another image in the magazine where they show a spoon in the pan and the apple is just slightly bigger then the spoon. You can actually see it already on the spoon in the image.. Just thought I mention it!

I just received an email from Laura at Tiramisu who tested the recipe and wanted to let you know that it seems there might be some issues with the qty's in the recipe.  Twelve apples seems to be too much for the recipe, as well as the size of the dumplings if making the stated amount of 6 will mean it is going to be ridiculously big. Also the sugar vs water qty's for the caramel sauce appears to be strange as Laura did not get anything resembling caramel. I will be testing the recipe this week too to see how it goes. Any changes will be reported here! Let me know if you run into issues!

PS2: I tested the recipe myself and it does seem that there is something wrong with the caramel qty's. If you still want to make this recipe (and it is quite tasty!) then I would suggest you use an alternative caramel recipe. I made 5 smaller dumplings and already halved the qty's for the dough. So you'll be having leftovers, but that's not so bad. I tried cooking the caramel separately but it just does not thicken. So if you have a caramel sauce recipe you trust; feel free to use that. You can also leave a comment here with your recipe if you want...

Recipe by Donna Hay

While I was reading the recipe I was wondering if it was such a good choice. I have a bad bad reputation when it comes to dough and quite frankly it goes wrong more times then I care to admit. On top of that; it sounds weird just to dunk pieces of dough into a caramel sauce and expect them to come out right.. but ok.., I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt! It looks delicious and sounds delicious so that’s gotta count for something.

And then the rules again!


  • Once a month (on the 3rd of the month) I will give you a recipe plus the accompanying photo out of the Donna Hay magazine. I will try to make it seasonal but can’t promise anything.
  • You have that same month to produce your post. You can post it any day you like just as long as you finish it before the end of that month at the latest.
  • You have to produce that recipe, alterations to the recipe are allowed to make sure any dietary restrictions are met. But only minor changes!
  • You have to cook and STYLE the recipe trying to replicate the photo as best as you can. If you think you can do a better job then the original photo, by all means feel free to make your own changes to the styling.
  • Shoot the dish and then write a blog post about it. It would be great to add notes on how you took the photo and how you styled the dish, so that other people can learn too.
  • Link back to this months blog post about the challenge and link back to the Donna Hay Challenge page here
  • Leave a message on the post that is up here for that month, saying that you completed the challenge and link to the post on your site so others can find it too.
  • If you want to use the original photo in your blog post as well as the recipe be sure to link back to the Donna Hay website plus the photographers website. They will both always be mentioned in the monthly challenge posts.

Each month a winner will be picked who will be featured in the Hall of Fame page. If you like you can add a badge to your site saying that you are taking part in this competition. The badge is featured below and should link back to this page.

Above all this challenge is about having fun styling and photographing a dish by taking Donna Hay as our great example. You can join all months or whenever you feel like joining in. Using an example of the great photographers that Donna works with, I always find that it is a good learning experience to see how did they light the scene, where does the light come from and how did they manage to make it look so beautiful. Try and analyze all of that and then come up with your own version.

While taking food photos is all about finding your own style and certainly not copying anyone else, it does help to analyze how your hero’s do their job. It’s about learning to light and style a scene properly. In no way am I trying to suggest you copy another person style. Find your own unique style! This challenge is just a tool to help you along the way..


About the author

Simone van den Berg

Food- and travelblogger from the Netherlands. Loves good food. Loves to taste good food the world over.
She also loves to share travelstories, delicious recipes and ok, cat pictures too. She sometimes feels the need to get really healthy for a while, always mingled with periods of insanely delicious sweets and other decadent treats.
Lives together with Tom and their two cats; Humphrey and Buffy.
Profession: Food photographer

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Hi. My name is Simone and I believe you can change your life by eating the right foods. I am a certified holistic nutritional coach, food photographer, recipe developer and story teller.

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March: Blankenberge, Belgium
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