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Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Dumplings: A Sweet Fall Treat

Patty enjoys cooking for family and friends. She creates simple and satisfying treats from old family recipes.

Pennsylvania Dutch apple dumplings

Pennsylvania Dutch apple dumplings

An Amish Tradition

Apple dumplings are believed to have originated in Pennsylvania among the Amish community—the Pennsylvania Dutch community, to be more precise. The rolling hills of Pennsylvania where some of the best apple varieties have been established are home to hundreds of fall festivals where you will find at least one booth serving up fresh-baked apple dumplings.

For the best apple dumplings, choose apples that are firm, and picked at the height of the season. Cortland, Granny Smith, and Honey Crisp are all good choices.

For the best apple dumplings, choose apples that are firm, and picked at the height of the season. Cortland, Granny Smith, and Honey Crisp are all good choices.

Which Apple Variety?

An apple that doesn't get mushy when baked is your best choice for apple dumplings. Avoid using Red Delicious, Gala, Macintosh, and Fuji. Although these apples look good in the produce department, they don't hold up well for cooking.

Whole or Sliced Apple?

There are multiple ways to make apple dumplings. Some cooks wrap the pastry dough around an entire cored and peeled apple; others slice the apples to make them easier to eat. Still others use a half an apple and make dome-shaped dumplings.

Traditionally, apple dumplings were made with a homemade pastry put together with shortening, flour, water and a pinch of salt, then rolled a quarter inch thin and wrapped around the apples.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

1 hour

45 min

1 hour 45 min

8 dumplings

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 2 packages pie crust pastry, each package should contain dough for 2 (9-inch) pie crusts

For the filling:

  • 8 large apples
  • 1-2 cups white sugar
  • cinnamon, to taste

For the syrup:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
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Place the apple in the middle of the dough square and sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over, filling the hole in the middle almost to the top with the sugar.

Place the apple in the middle of the dough square and sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over, filling the hole in the middle almost to the top with the sugar.

Instructions

  1. Peel and core 8 large apples.
  2. Make or buy a pastry for four 9-inch pie crusts (if store-bought, look for packages that contain two pie crusts each). Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick. If using refrigerated dough from the grocery store, allow the dough to warm up a little to make it easier to roll. Cut the dough into eight 7-inch squares.
  3. In a pot, combine the syrup ingredients and boil for 3 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Place 1 peeled and cored apple in the middle of one of the dough squares and fill the center of the apple with sugar. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  5. Taking the corners of the dough, pull it up and over the apple. Pinch together at the top of the apple. Fold in the sides of the dough over the apple and gently seal.
  6. Carefully lift the dumplings by sliding your hands under them and lay in a baking pan allowing about 1 inch around each dumpling. Pour the syrup around the dumplings.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until the apples are tender. Test by gently pushing a fork into the cooking apple.
Bring the corners of the dough up and over the apple to meet at the top. Fold the sides around the apples, being careful to not squeeze the apple with the pressure.

Bring the corners of the dough up and over the apple to meet at the top. Fold the sides around the apples, being careful to not squeeze the apple with the pressure.

Adding a sweet syrup over the apples before baking, gives them a burst of caramelized flavor that also keeps the crust moist during baking.

Dessert for Supper?

When I was a kid, my mother made apple dumplings at least once a month. I remember the smell of baked apple greeting me as I walked into the kitchen and how I anticipated sitting down to supper with a whole dumpling in front of me, still warm from the oven. I ate mine plain, enjoying the sweet but slightly tart taste of the cinnamon flavored apple inside.

As an adult, I pondered this break from tradition. Mom was a stickler about finishing supper before dessert but in this one instance, she changed the rule and we had apple dumplings for supper.

We joke about it now and once in a while I get an instant message from her, "Guess what your dad and I had for supper tonight?

Yep. It was apple dumplings.

The sugary syrup caramelizes and gives the dumplings an extra pop of sweet taste.

The sugary syrup caramelizes and gives the dumplings an extra pop of sweet taste.

Bedford County Apple Orchards

Autumn in southern Pennsylvania is marked by the ripening of apples across rolling hillside orchards. The early rays of sunlight warm the fruit that is protected overnight from damaging frost that whitens the grass in the valleys overnight. Due to the unique soil quality and elevation, Bedford County's optimum climate enhances the coloring of the Honey Crisp and McIntosh varieties and is considered a prime location for apple orchards.

© 2022 Patty Poet

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