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1. For the filling, in a saucepan combine dried fruit and apple cider. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 20 to 25 minutes or until fruit is tender (cider should be cooked down). Mash slightly. Cool.
2. Meanwhile, for the pastry, in a bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Using a pastry blender, cut in the 1/2 cup shortening until pieces are pea-size.
3. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the buttermilk or buttermilk mixture over part of the flour mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to the side. Repeat, using 1 tablespoon of the buttermilk at a time, until all the dough is moistened. If pastry seems dry, add a little water, 1 tablespoon at a time. (Do not overhandle.) Form dough into ball.
4. Pat or lightly roll dough into a 15-inch circle. Using a 4-inch round cutter, cut the dough into 12 circles, rerolling dough as needed. Place about 1 tablespoon fruit on half of each circle. Moisten edges of circles with water. Fold over into half-moon shape. Seal edges with tines of a fork.