I've made dozens of apple pies, but never apple dumplings. Looking through a couple of stacks of cooking magazines I found a recipe for pear dumplings. Sounded good, but I wanted to try apples, so I looked around for a recipe and found a few, and ended up using 4 or 5 references and altering a few things, hoping I would get what I wanted. They were absolutely delicious! They were not so pretty by the time I took them out of the oven, but they made up for it, believe you me. They are sweet(sugar), sour(lemon), crunchy(nuts), soft(apple) and chewy(dried cranberries).
I made my own crust, but you could use a mix. Fearing they would brown too fast I put a sheet of foil over them and took it off later, but I ended up cooking them way longer than they needed, and that's why the meltdown happened. I was afraid they would be tough if I took them out too soon. All the extended cooking time did was make them look schlumpy. They look well rested for a dessert. I had planned to take one little dumpling to a pretty plate for a portrait, but it was not meant to be. We scooped them out with a large spoon. So this is a pretty loose recipe. I think as long as you have the apple and the crust, you can really go after your preferences. I've seen recipes for dumplings cooked in sauce or without, with the centers filled or with just sugar. Make it your own, but this is what I did…
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter, cold, cut into about 1/2" to 3/4" chunks
3 or 4 tbsp. ice water
Mix together flour and salt then add butter. Use a pastry cutter to cut butter into flour and salt mixture.
Add 1 tbsp. ice water and mix it in with a fork. Add 2 to 3 tbsp. ice water and continue working it in with a fork til moistened. Cover and refrigerate while preparing apples and sauce.
1 cup water
1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. butter
Bring water, sugar, and cinnamon to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Set aside.
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used cashews. I always have cashews.)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
Mix together in a bowl and set aside to fill the centers of the apples.
4 granny smith apples
1/2 of a lemon
Core apples, leaving a bottom in the apple. Peel apples and drizzle with lemon-squeeze 1/2 of a lemon over all four apples.
Roll out dough on a floured surface and cut into 3/4" strips. Wrap strips around apples from bottom to top. I also used a piece of dough to cover up the bottom using a bit water to attach dough to dough. When you get to the top and before you seal it all up, fill the cavity with the nut mixture filling, then continue wrapping and seal it up at the top, forming a stem with the dough or using a clove for a stem. You can also add a cutout dough leaf if you want. When they are all wrapped in dough strips put the dumplings in a shallow baking pan and spoon the leftover filling around them. Drizzle the sauce over the apples and the filling around them being careful not to overfill the pan so it won't bubble out and mess up your oven like mine did!
Bake in preheated 400 degree oven til golden…if the tops seem to be browning too much too soon, put a piece of foil over them til they are closer to being all done. Then take it off so it can all brown evenly. I left mine in for about an hour with the foil on top for much of the time. Next time I will get them out sooner after I test the apples for "done all the way through-ness". So good. We topped them with caramel sauce. If there is someone you want to win over, this could do it.