friday feast: ♥ my darling, my dumpling ♥

Not too long ago, I asked you to call me “Melon Head.” Would you mind changing that to “Apple Dumpling”?


Of all the foodie terms of endearment — Pumpkin, Sweetie Pie, Babycakes, Cookie, Honeybun — I think “Apple Dumpling” suits me best right about now.

Fall (my favorite season) doesn’t officially begin until Sunday, but that familiar chill is already in the air. Hooray for apple season, deep blue skies, warm cider with cinnamon sticks, stunning rustic foliage, and friendly pumpkins on porches! I am basically *ahem* a little apple-shaped, can be sweet or tart, and would like nothing better than to wrap myself in a buttery, flaky blanket of dough. Did you know this past Tuesday the 17th was National Apple Dumpling Day? 🙂

Up until a few days ago, I’d never made or eaten a genuine-for-real apple dumpling. Of course I’d heard of them, wanting to hug myself every time someone said the name.

You probably know apple dumplings are a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition, popular among the Amish who like to eat them for breakfast. They’re actually an ancient British food that became even more popular among American colonists because apples grew well here, and the dumplings could be made with either fresh or dried apples.

Before I serve up the recipe, enjoy this toothsome poem by English satirist John Wolcot (1738-1819), a physician who wrote under the pseudonym of Peter Pindar. Wolcot liked to roast eminent figures of the day, including George III, the puzzled King in this amusing verse.

“Apple Dumplings” by George Dunlop Leslie

by Peter Pindar

Once on a time, a monarch, tired with whooping,
Whipping and spurring,
Happy in worrying,
A poor defenceless harmless buck
(The horse and rider wet as muck),
From his high consequence and wisdom stooping,
Entered through curiosity a cot
Where sat a poor old woman and her pot.

The wrinkled, blear-eyed, good old granny,
In this same cot, illumed by many a cranny,
Had finished apple dumplings for her pot:
In tempting row the naked dumplings lay,
When lo! the monarch, in his usual way,
Like lightning spoke, “What’s this? what’s this?
what? what?”

Then taking up a dumpling in his hand,
His eyes with admiration did expand;
And oft did majesty the dumpling grapple: he cried,
“‘Tis monstrous, monstrous hard indeed!
What makes it, pray, so hard?” The dame replied,
Low curtseying, “Please, your majesty, the apple.”

“Very astonishing indeed! Strange thing!”
(Turning the dumpling round), rejoined the king,
“‘Tis most extraordinary, then, all this is, —
It beats Penette’s conjuring all to pieces:
Strange I should never of a dumpling dream!
But, goody, tell me where, where, where’s the seam?”
“Sir, there’s no seam,” quoth she; “I never knew
That folks did apple-dumplings sew.”
“No!” cried the staring monarch with a grin;
“How, how the devil got the apple in?”

On which the dame the curious scheme revealed
By which the apple lay so sly concealed,
Which made the Solomon of Britain start;
Who to the palace with full speed repaired,
And queen and princesses so beauteous scared
All with the wonders of the dumpling art.
There did he labor one whole week to show
The wisdom of an apple-dumpling maker;
And lo! so deep was majesty in dough,
The palace seemed the lodging of a baker!

* * *

apple-lovers-cookbookAfter considering several other time-tested recipes, I opted for Amy Traverso’s Apple Dumplings with Cider-Rum Sauce from The Apple Lover’s Cookbook. I seem to gravitate to her book every Fall and have never been disappointed with the results. Her step-by-step instructions are always crystal clear and I liked that her sauce had less sugar than most other recipes, relying on fresh apple cider for some of the sweetness.

Peeling and coring the apples are a breeze if you have a resident leprechaun helper in the kitchen, as is heating the cider, brown sugar, and rum for the sauce, and filling the apples with cinnamon and sugar.

Ribbet collage

Trust me. You will bond with your dumplings as you hold, pat and shape them.

Amy’s crust recipe calls for a combination of unsalted butter and vegetable shortening, which is much easier to work with than an all-butter dough. Rolling the dough between two sheets of wax or parchment paper is a good idea (or use a Silpat mat). Adding a little milk and kneading the dough helps with elasticity, making it easier to stretch and seal the dough around the apples.

It’s crucial to use small apples (I used golden delicious) or the dough squares won’t cover them. I pinched the four points together and sealed the seams (don’t tell King George), and to cover any flaws, I added decorative leaves (Cornelius loves to play with my special piecrust cutters).

These piecrust cutters, a birthday gift from my friend Sylvia, are the best things going.

After carefully setting my apple-y beauties in the baking dish, I poured the cider-rum sauce around the apples and baked them for about 35-40 minutes.

Aren’t they cute?



And OH! They browned beautifully and were absolutely eyeballs-roll-back-in-your-head delicious. We ate them with more sauce than is pictured here; imagine that blended with melted ice cream. When you cut into the dumpling, you’re greeted with the syrupy brown sugar center of each apple, too. Scoop up those last bits of buttery crust saturated in sauce and all is right with the world.


See why I want to be called Apple Dumpling? These adorable packages of love are the perfect way to celebrate Fall — little gifts of goodness that will astonish you just as they did the King.

After I made my dumplings I found Amy’s recipe online at Martha Stewart’s website, along with a video showing Amy and Martha making them. I was happy to see that I did exactly what Amy did, proof of how easily her written instructions can be translated by even novice bakers like me. Her recipe makes 6 dumplings, but I only made four, using the extra dough to cut out the decorative leaves.

Now, do I have to tell you that it’s your civic duty to make these for your loved ones very soon? If you’re pressed for time, you can use refrigerated pie dough or wrap apple slices in Pillsbury crescent rolls (like Pioneer Woman does). In case you’d like to try a different, more traditional sauce, check out this recipe my sister Sylvia sent me. Basically you can just use your favorite pie crust recipe. It’s all good.

Happy Autumn and Happy Baking, Friends!

Love ♥,

Ms. Apple Dumpling


* * *

poetryfriday180The lovely and talented Ms. Tabatha is hosting this week’s Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference. Last I heard, she was making some yummy applesauce. Prance over to see what’s on today’s poetic menu. Enjoy!


* * *

weekend cooking button (2)180This post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their tasty, tempting food-related posts. Put on your bib and come join the fun!


Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.



69 thoughts on “friday feast: ♥ my darling, my dumpling ♥

  1. Dearest Dumpling,
    Your creations are gorgeous and I’m sure even more delicious. I took a (store-bought) apple pastry ring to my art critique group yesterday, with the similar thought to usher in fall. Not nearly as lovely as your offerings.

    In north Georgia, you’ll find lots of apple orchards and the infamous triangle single-serving apple pies, sure to increase the likelihood of an apple-inspired figure. Morgan is looking forward to apple picking with her college friends up in South Carolina next weekend.

    I’ll enjoy the phrase “the wonders of the dumpling art” all season – thanks for sharing the wonders!


    1. Dearest Robyn,

      Thank you for the lovely compliment. You deserve an extra dumpling or two for your kind words. 🙂

      Apples really herald and symbolize the entire season — nice to know we are of a similar mindset. What will Morgan and her friends do with all the apples they pick? If they intend to bake pies, turnovers, cakes and dumplings with them, I may have to go down to SC for a taste. I’d never heard of the triangle single-serving pies — they sound like little turnovers, or similar to pie pops.

      Yours truly,
      Ms. Dumpling


  2. Holy moly! These are exquisite. You are the dumpling goddess, and I wish that I was your next door neighbor. We will be making cider this weekend…the harvest is here. (Maybe some dumplings too!) Happy Apply Poetry Friday!


    1. Oh, fresh cider! LOVE. Hope some dumplings are on your weekend agenda too. Wish I was your next door neighbor too — think of all the wonderful poetry readings I could enjoy — with pineapple slices on the side, of course. 🙂


  3. Wow-my grandson is here, perhaps I’ll find time (the crescent rolls will help this time) because he loves apple things. The poem is so funny, Jama. I think the common folk way back loved to poke fun at their royalty, didn’t they? And today, the tabloids have taken over. Thanks for all, & about the piecrust cutters, too-I didn’t know about them!


    1. The crescent roll idea is great for kids — your grandson will love the dumplings that much more because he helped make them — and using apple slices makes for easier eating. You could easily use Amy’s cider-rum sauce if you’re looking for a lower sugar alternative (I think PW uses white sugar + a can of soda).

      Apparently Peter Pindar pissed off a lot of people with his poetic satires. The truth hurts :), and George III doesn’t come off sounding like the sharpest tack in the box, does he?

      Re piecrust cutters: they’re even better than plain cookie cutters because of the spring button on the top, which lifts the cut-out right off your surface so you don’t have to spoil the design by trying to scrape it off with a spatula or something.


  4. I bought The Apple Lover’s Cookbook after you talked about it here last year. I’ll be trying this recipe for sure, Jama. I can taste them already. Thanks for a beautifully written and pictured post.


    1. Oh, I’m so excited you’re going to try these, Margie! If you can’t find small apples, you can cut the bottoms off larger ones, or just wrap smaller slices of apples. 🙂

      I’m more and more convinced that Amy’s book is the only apple cookbook I’ll ever need . . .


  5. Mmm…normally I reach for a cider donut at this time of year, but this looks like a delectable breakfast…or lunch…or dinner treat!

    Adorable leaf cutter-outers too!


    1. Hello Ms. Buffy,

      Yes, yes, you should put these crust cutters on your wish list! Amazing that you can smell the dumplings, since we ate all of them already . . . 🙂

      Yours truly,
      Ms. Dumpling


  6. Oh, my. I am drooling onto my laptop. That looks so amazing. I think we may be visiting the farm this weekend and gorging on apple fritters. If the dumplings in the poem looked anything like yours, Jama, it’s no wonder the king was so impressed.


  7. O boy o boy o boy. Funny, I just checked the mail and I STILL haven’t gotten my invitation to be adopted by you. I wonder what could be holding it up?

    Maybe you’re too busy making dumplings to stamp the envelope? DELICIOUS! That’s the only way to describe and apple dessert, after all.

    Thank you, Miss Apple Dumpling. You have restored my faith in fruit. Oh, yeah, the poem was nice too. 😀



  8. Dear Ms. Renee,

    What, no envelope in the mail yet? It was posted several months ago. I guess the pony express can’t swim the Atlantic.

    We are open to adoptees here at Alphabet Soup — especially literary types who can act, sing, recite poetry beautifully and speak Italian. You must provide your own superhero cape, however, and be very good at housework.

    Ever yours,
    Ms. Dumpling

    P.S. You really should see someone about that uncontrolled drooling. . .


  9. Jama,
    How beautiful. The poem is good but the dumplings–ah heaven–and you plopped them in a bed of vanilla ice cream. You can cook for me anytime.
    You do know that my diet goes off kilter every time I read one of your beautiful posts.


    1. Glad you enjoyed the apple-y post, Joy. No calories gained with virtual food. Of course, if you happen to make those dumplings . . . 🙂


  10. Oh my, those are some sweet lookin’ mini-me’s, Ms. Dumpling! I think I’m in loooooove. Almost too pretty to eat with the lovely leaves, but for you I’d make an exception. And the poem you chose, the perfect side dish!

    My daughter has been itching to try out a recipe in her American Girl Magazine for an oatmeal filled baked apple… we’ll see how it goes.


  11. Delicious post, Jama. I’ve made sauce, pie and apple crisp, but never apple dumplings. You’ve convinced me it’s time to try! All I can think about are warm, scented, appley things…


  12. Miss Apple Dumpling, you really should adopt me soonest. Everything here makes my mouth water. I think my eyeballs won’t be the only thing rolling – my entire head would probably do a 360 degree turn not unlike the Poltergeist girl. See, I told you I am a woman of many talents. I’d make for a good companion to Mr. Cornelius too. 🙂 If I were to be reborn again, I hope I’d have your skills in the kitchen. I know my husband would be a much happier man for that. Hahahaha. 🙂


    1. Cornelius is a little wary of your being his companion because you like strange and scary things like monsters and ladies with snakes in their hair. I’m afraid of your ability to rotate your head 360 degrees. I’m considering several adoption candidates at the moment. I’ll let you know . . . 🙂


  13. Love, love, love apple (and peach) dumplings. One of the best things about living in central PA is that we can buy them from Amish bakeries. But I love the addition of rum here. And adore the leaf decorations. The best ones we can get are at the county fair, where they serve them with cinnamon ice cream. Now I’m sad I have to wait another year before I can eat them again. Hold on! I don’t have to wait … I’ll try your recipe. (And I’m pretty sure I own that cookbook.)


  14. Your dumplings are adorable! They look so perfect, hard to believe that’s a first time effort. I was very impressed by your leaf making and just a tad relieved to find out that you used a cutter. I would certainly love to try those soon, but it’s spring in Australia, and so sadly out of season.


    1. You’ll just have to wait a little longer for the apples, then. We’re lucky we can get apples year round here in Virginia — but of course in Fall we see more varieties at the farm markets and you can’t beat that fresh cider.


  15. Your dumplings are just beautiful. The leaves are so cute.

    My aunt made an apple dumpling using a yeast dough. So more sweet roll than pie crust consistency. It was good, too!


    1. I’ve been reading about the many variations in covering — not only piecrust dough, but as you say, sweet rolls, croissant, phyllo, even biscuit dough is sometimes used. That’s the beauty of apples — it’s pretty hard to mess up when cooking or baking with them.


    1. I think these cutters came from Williams Sonoma. You can also check Amazon for different brands of cutters with different shapes. 🙂


  16. Your dumplings are truly works of art! I’m sure they were scrumptious. I love your little pie crust cutters! I have one that is the size of the top crust and cuts out little apples. It works like a charm, but isn’t nearly as beautiful as your dumplings. Thanks for sharing!


    1. I once had a cutter just like the one you mentioned, but never used it. I think I was afraid the dough would stick and it would be a mess to clean up . . .


  17. I am very familiar with apple pies but not apple dumplings, don’t they look delicious! I got totally lost in that poem, I must be dumpling 😉


  18. When you mention ingredients like apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, cider, butter…I can’t help but call you Apple Dumpling.

    My mom has been called Crust Queen, but now that she’s in her 80’s she rarely makes crust anymore. She makes the Pioneer Woman’s version of apple dumplings quite often, though. They’re not as decorative as yours, but they are really tasty.

    And those pie crust cutters are the cutest!!


    1. Crust Queen — quite an impressive title. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the most important part of any pie. I’m going to have to try PW’s apple dumplings for a quick fix soon :).


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