National Apple Dumpling Day: we're falling for it!

With apple trees bursting with tasty gems ripe for the picking, it makes total sense that September 17 is National Apple Dumpling Day.

Never heard of apple dumplings before? Boy, are you missing out! Think of them as mini apple pies, but more old-school (in a good way), and deliciously messier. Whether made to be elegant or rustic, apple dumplings are quintessential fall.

The filling is simple: half an apple with some cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top. The pastry is a cross between pie crust and a biscuit: buttery and tender, with just enough firmness to hold together. And oh yeah, swimming in a lovely pool of sauce flavored with apple peel. Yum.

Served hot with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream — even better, homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream — this dessert is really just everything. Let us show you how it’s done!

National Apple Dumpling Day via @kingarthurflour

Make the dough

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together:
3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

National Apple Dumpling Day via @kingarthurflour

Work in 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter until the mixture is crumbly, using your fingers, a pastry fork or blender, or a mixer, leaving some pea-sized pieces.

Add 3/4 cup milk, stirring to combine. Add a bit more milk, as needed, just until the dough comes together. Divide the dough in half, wrap each half in plastic, and put them in the freezer to chill.

National Apple Dumpling Day via @kingarthurflour

Prepare the apples

Wash, peel, and core 4 small apples, saving the peels. I find myself using an Apple Peeler, Corer, and Slicer anytime I bake with apples because it just makes it so fast and tidy. Note: if you use a peeler/corer/slicer, remember to move the slicer out of the way; you don’t want these apples sliced.

You can use any type of apple, though a firmer fruit like Granny Smith will hold up better in baking than, say, a McIntosh. 

Slice the apples in half around the equator. Sprinkle the 8 halves with 1 tablespoon lemon juice (to keep them from browning), then set them aside.

National Apple Dumpling Day via @kingarthurflour

Make the syrup

Combine 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 cups water, and apple peels in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.

National Apple Dumpling Day via @kingarthurflour

Assemble the dumplings

Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg in a small bowl; set aside. Remove half the dough from the freezer and place it on a well-floured surface. Roll it into a 12″ x 12″ square; it’ll be thin.

Cut the dough into four 6″ squares.

Place an apple half on each square, and sprinkle each with a tablespoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

National Apple Dumpling Day via @kingarthurflour

Moisten the edges of the square with a brush, and bring them up over the apple, tucking them together in the center of the apple.

Place the apples, seam-side up, in the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining dough and apples.

National Apple Dumpling Day via @kingarthurflour

Strain the syrup to remove the apple peels. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon boiled cider, if you’re using it.

National Apple Dumpling Day via @kingarthurflour

Pour the syrup evenly over the dumplings. Sprinkle the dumplings with a generous layer of sparkling white sugar or demerara sugar.

Bake the apple dumplings

Bake the dumplings for 45 to 50 minutes, until the apples are tender and the pastry is brown. The liquid will bubble and thicken into a delicious sauce.

national apple dumpling day via @kingarthurflour

Remove the dumplings from the oven, and let them sit for at least 10 minutes before serving; this allows the dough to firm up. 

I hope this blog leaves you inspired to celebrate this most delicious of holidays. Or maybe just gives you the excuse you need to get baking with apples! Either way, we hope you have a lovely time celebrating National Apple Dumpling Day.

Please, bake, rate, and review our recipe for Apple Dumplings.

Print just the recipe.

Gwen Adams
About

Gwen Adams grew up in northern New Hampshire, on top of a mountain, surrounded by nature and not much else. After graduating from Lyndon State College in 2010, Gwen sought a career that combined her passion for writing with her love of baking. She found ...

comments

  1. Gay

    It does not seem that the sauce was poured over the dumplings, rather that the dumplings are sitting in the sauce. Is that correct?

    Reply
    1. Gwen Adams, post author

      The sauce was, in fact, poured over the dumplings. It is rather thin until it bakes with the dumplings, so it doesn’t do anything more than gently coat them. This makes it easier for all that crunchy sugar to stick to the top! Hope you love them! -Gwen

  2. Deborah

    In the Bohemian/Irish household I grew up in, Apple Dumplings were boiled then served with melted butter, sugar and sour cream.

    Reply
  3. Mary Lu

    Will these be good the next day? I want to make for my sailor husband and his crew, but would have to make the night before.

    Reply
    1. Gwen Adams, post author

      Hi Mary Lu,

      You could make as-is and reheat– the bottom of your crust may get a little soggy from the syrup but will still taste delicious. Or you could bake the dumplings without the syrup (like turnovers) and reduce your syrup down a bit more in the pan and serve it separately. Either way, I’m sure your husband will love them! Happy Baking! -Gwen

  4. Tiena

    I was going to make an apple pie for my dad’s birthday, but I’m thinking it will be dumplings instead. Could you freeze them before baking?

    Reply
    1. Gwen Adams, post author

      Hi Tiena,

      You could certainly give this a try, but I have a feeling this may soften up your apple and create a lot more liquid inside the dumplings than normal. I would recommend baking them off, sans syrup, and freezing them fully baked. You can warm them up and top them with the syrup before serving. Let me know how they turn out and I hope your dad has a birthday filled with great food! -Gwen

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re so glad you asked, Janice! This recipe is indeed a good candidate for a 1:1 Measure for Measure substitution. We hope you’ll give it a try and let us know what you think. Mollie@KAF

  5. Angela

    Picked our apples on the way home from school so they would be fresh off the tree. These dumplings were absolutely amazing – even got rave reviews from the neighbors, because, well when it’s a National food holiday, one should share!

    Reply
  6. Meg

    I made these yesterday. Wonderful! My mother used to make this dish as a meatless dinner during lent. W/ a nod to her, I served it for dinner w/ Cabot cheddar, roasted butternut squash and grapes. The family was in heaven.

    Reply
  7. Carolyn

    My mother made apple dumplings (1940’s/50’s) – ordinary pie pastry wrapped around chopped apples, cinnamon, sugar and baked. What was unusual was the sauce. It was fairly transparent. ??Water, sugar, nutmeg, maybe some butter, and thickened with cornstarch?? I’ve searched through her recipe card file and can’t find anything about this but I know she cleaned that out a few years before she died.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      To substitute Self-Rising Flour, simply use 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour in place of the All-Purpose Flour, baking powder and salt called for in the recipe. Happy baking, Allysa! Mollie@KAF

  8. Linda Sepeda

    My grandparents lived on a farm, with an apple tree. As a very special treat, about once a year during apple season, she would make apple dumplings as dinner. Instead of having ice cream on the side, warm milk was poured over the warm dumplings. The milk came from Blackie, the cow. My mother continued the tradition, and so have I. I have to buy the apples and milk, though.

    Reply
  9. Tiena

    I was going to make apple pie for my Dad’s birthday tomorrow, but I think it might be these dumplings instead. Could the apples wrapped in the dough be frozen and then baked later?

    Reply
    1. Gwen Adams, post author

      Hi Tiena,

      You could certainly give this a try, but I have a feeling this may soften up your apple and create a lot more liquid inside the dumplings than normal. I would recommend baking them off, sans syrup, and freezing them fully baked. You can warm them up and top them with the syrup before serving. Let me know how they turn out and I hope your dad has a birthday filled with great food! -Gwen

  10. Irene in T.O.

    To make ahead and freeze:

    1. use regular pie crust
    2. add a teaspoon of powdered tapioca or tapioca flour to the filling
    3. freeze shaped dumplings unbaked. Store in freezer weight bags. Place frozen into pan and add syrup as per recipe. Bake from frozen about 10 minutes longer than time given.

    If you bake without the syrup then you get regular old apple turnovers not the special dumpling consistency. Reheating with syrup makes crust squishy. Been there, done that.

    Reply

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