Apple Dumpling Recipe

finished dumplings

I haven't changed this recipe very much since I found it online years ago, so I can't take full credit for how magical it is. I've also lost track of where I found the original recipe, sadly. However, I'll include my notes and thoughts on how I've made my own changes to it since then. The prep takes a few hours, and if you have helpers it will be much easier. If you want to make this to bring to a house party, I recommed making the unbaked dumplings at home, and wrapping them up in the pan you're going to use, then putting the ingredients for the syrup in a bag. You can stir syrup with one hand, and sip your drink of choice in the kitchen at the party. Everyone comes through the kitchen anyway, and the syrup will smell great, bringing them in anyway. (Ask me how I know!)

Filling Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 apples, cored, and sliced into small, quarter-sized pieces
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and given time to cool, but not solidify
  • cinnamon (to taste)
  • nutmeg (to taste)
  • Optional: a small amount of melted butter for brushing on the tops of the dumplings
  • Optional: raisins, pecans soaked in an alcohol, pears (use your imagination, think apple pie flavors).

Dough Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup of shortening (see note)
  • ½ cup of milk

Syrup Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups hot water
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Optional: Honey to taste

Steps to prepare the filling:

  1. Combine apple pieces, white sugar, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Cover with cling wrap and set aside.
  2. Note: If you have extra apple filling, it can be placed in the pan around the dumplings. If what you have chosen to add (raisins, nuts, other fruits) would not cook well directly if baked directly in the syrup, mix these ingredients in a seperate bowl so you can make sure they only go into the dumplings.

Steps to Prepare the Dumpling Dough:

Please note: I have found that mixing this dough by hand gets me the best results. This dough is very tough, and I avoid mixing it by hand if I have any nail polish on my nails at the time. As always, wash your hands thoroughly before mixing the dough. The consistency is important, and it will help you to have a helper ready with more milk, should the dough not be the right 'feel.'

If you do have access to a stand mixer, I would use a dough hook, and monitor it, as the dough is very solid and could make the machine jump around.

  1. Combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Slice up shortening into smaller amounts and add while mixing, until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Gradually add the milk a little at a time so you can judge the consistency. You want the dough to not stick to your fingers when you hold it. If you have been mixing by hand, any dough sticking to your hands should come off and return to the ball as you mix it. Add additional milk as needed, a little at a time. A little will go a long way.
  4. Optional: smell the dough and get hyped about apples.
  5. Roll dough into a rectangular shape, roughly ⅛" thick. If you are not able to roll the dough, or prefer not to, you can also skip this step and the next (cutting into squares). Later, we will form the dumplings by hand, but they may be smaller. It is best to roll them if you intend to make large ones, or include more than apples.
  6. Cut into roughly 5" squares.

Make the Syrup:

  1. Combine sugar, water, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter in a saucepan.
  2. Stir to combine over medium heat, taking care to not burn or overheat. Syrup will thicken and begin to take on a traditional syrupy look.
  3. When syrup is finished, remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Assemble the Dumplings:

Please note: if you have an assistant, this would be a nice time for them to prepare the syrup, while you assemble the dumplings. Have the pan you plan to bake it in ready, and place the finished dumplings directly into it. Try to give them some space between them, about a half-inch, as they will expand a little. I like to use a large, rectangular, pyrex baking dish. I don't grease it, as the syrup keeps things from sticking to the pan.

  1. If you have chosen to roll the dough and cut into squares, you can take the filling and place a small amount in the center of each square, then fold the edges around it.
  2. If you have chosen to skip rolling the dough, take a palm-sized amount of dough, and shape it, to form a bowl-shape. Place the filling inside of it, and cup your hands around the ball to shape the dough.
  3. Wet your fingers with water and use it to pinch any edges of dough together.
  4. Place each dumpling in the pan, seam side up.
  5. When syrup is done, carefully pour it over the assembled dumplings.
  6. If you want to, brush the tops with melted butter, and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, or any other spices you favor, but keep it light. The spices can burn in the oven if they're just on top.

Baking Instructions

Cover the dumplings with foil, and bake at 375° for 35 to 45 minutes. You're looking for the tops to get golden brown. When you take it out, be careful to not slosh any syrup on your hands, and give it time to cool, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes.