Apple dumpling

A classic apple dumpling with some ice cream on the side.

Growing up, I can remember many autumn afternoons at my grandmother’s watching the Disney classic, “The Apple Dumpling Gang” while my grandmother washed and processed apples from the many apple trees in her front yard. Her mother had grown up on an orchard and many of the trees still producing on our family ranch were planted by her. Strawberry Rhone apples were my grandmother’s favorite to bake with.

As fall quickly approaches, I wanted to share this family favorite apple recipe with you all. My grandmother took it out of the November 1952 edition of Better Homes and Gardens originally but there have been a few changes throughout the 72 years our family has enjoyed them.

Apple dumplings with a rustic pastry crust are somewhat time-consuming but well worth the effort. The pink coloring from the syrup adds a festive flair to any occasion and as a little girl, putting in the food coloring was my favorite part. However, the natural caramel color is just as tasty.

Traditional Apple Dumplings

Yield: 6


1 cup sugar

1 cup water teaspoon Cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ginger

2 drops red food coloring

2 tablespoons butter


2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cups shortening

1/2 cup milk


6 small baking apples or 3 large apples

(peeled and cored)

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup sugar

butter for dotting

Preheat your oven to 375°F. While preheating, make your dough. Start by sifting together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then, cut in your shortening. You can do this with a pastry cutter or with knives or forks. The goal is to combine the shortening with the flour mixture until the shortening is well incorporated with few large chunks left.

Add your milk to the flour mixture and mix until the flour mixture is just moistened. Roll the dough 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut with a pastry wheel or sharp knife into 6x6 inch squares.

Traditionally, a whole small apple, peeled and cored would be rolled in a spiced sugar mix (cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar) with “a dot” or small piece of butter on top, and then placed in the center of your pastry square. However, apples from the grocery store may be too large for this and you may need to cut the apple in half to get it to fit in your dumpling.

After you have arranged your apple, wet the sides of the pastry and fold the corners to the center, pinching the edges together securely. Set the dumplings in a greased 11x7x2 or 12x8x2 pan, leaving roughly an inch between each dumpling. Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine water, sugar, food coloring and spices; bring to a boil. Then, add butter. Mix until the butter is completely melted in. Let it cool for a few minutes before pouring over your dumplings.

After you have poured the syrup over the dumplings, bake in the oven for approximately 35 minutes. Enjoy warm with ice cream or whipped topping!

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