These whole apple dumplings are made by enveloping individual apples in rough pastry and baking until tender and golden. Yum.
A good fruit dumpling is pie at its very simplest: a lightly sweetened piece of fruit wrapped in flaky pie dough and baked until the crust is golden and crisp and the fruit is juicy and soft. There are loads of delicious possibilities (peaches! pears! mini apples!) described in the variations beneath the recipe.–Erin Jeanne McDowell
WHAT IS ROUGH PUFF PASTRY?
Rough puff is an alternate method to make puff pastry. The aim is still to make layers of butter and dough, just faster and easier. In making puff pastry, you incorporate one big slab of butter into your dough by rolling and folding it over and over. When making rough puff, you break the butter into smaller pieces before combining it with the dough, speeding up the process so you can have dessert sooner.
Whole Apple Dumplings
For the rough puff pastry
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the work surface
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 sticks (8 oz) cold unsalted butter cut into 3/4-inch (19-mm) cubes
- 1/3 cup ice water plus more as needed
For the whole apple dumplings
- 6 medium-large (3 pounds) Honeycrisp or other good baking apples such as Gala, Jonagold, or Granny Smith
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter cut into six 1/2-tablespoon pats
- 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water, milk, or cream
- Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
For serving (optional)
- Store-bought or homemade salted caramel sauce
- Whipped cream
Make the rough puff pastry
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and salt.
- Add the cubes of butter, tossing them through the flour until each individual piece is well-coated. Cut the butter into the flour by pressing the pieces between your fingers, flattening them into big shards. As you work, continue to toss the butter through the flour, recoating the shingled pieces. The goal is to flatten each piece of butter only once, leaving the pieces very large. (They will get smaller and more dispersed through the process of folding the dough.)
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the ice water to the well and, using your hands, toss the flour with the water to begin gently mixing the two together. (This will combine them without creating too much gluten.) As the flour begins to hydrate, you can switch to more of a kneading motion—but don’t overdo it or the dough will toughen.
- Add a little more ice water, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is uniformly combined and holds together easily, but is not totally smooth. Press the dough into a single large disk. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thickness. The exact size and shape of the dough doesn’t matter here, just the thickness.
- Brush off any excess flour with a dry pastry brush, then fold the dough in half. Fold the dough in half again into quarters. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill until firm, 15 to 30 minutes.
- Repeat step 6 three more times, rolling out the dough to 1/2 inch (1 cm) thickness, folding it into quarters, and chilling it each time before continuing. If you work quickly and your kitchen is relatively cool, you may be able to do two rounds of folds back to back, but if the dough is soft or sticky, don’t rush it.
- Once the final fold is complete, tuck the edges of the dough under to form it into a slightly rounded shape, then wrap again and chill at least 30 minutes before using. (The tightly wrapped disk of dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. For longer storage, cover the disk in both plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.)
Make the whole apple dumplings
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Peel the apples and then use a small paring knife or an apple corer to remove the cores.
- In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
- Remove the rough puff pastry disk from the refrigerator and unwrap. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a loosely rectangular shape, 1/4 inch (3 mm) thick. Dock the dough by piercing all over with the tines of a fork.
- Set an apple near one end of the dough rectangle and generously cut around it with a pastry wheel or small knife to provide enough dough to fully encase the apple, with a little bit of excess that can be pinched together at the top. Then cut 5 more pieces of dough, using the first piece as a guide.
- Place one piece of dough on the prepared rimmed baking sheet and center an apple on top of it. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar mixture over the outside of the apple and into the cored center. Place one pat of butter on top of the apple, or gently press it into the hollow center.
- Lift one section of dough and gently stretch it outward, then up to the top of the apple. Continue all the way around, letting the dough pleat naturally as you bring it to the top, taking care not to stretch the dough too thinly on the bottom. Hold the pleated dough in place until the fruit is fully wrapped, then pinch it securely at the top to seal. (This will ensure it doesn’t come unfurled in the oven.) Repeat with the remaining apples and dough.
- Transfer the rimmed baking sheet to the refrigerator and refrigerate the dumplings until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
- Brush the dumplings all over with the beaten egg wash and sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar. Bake until the dough is crisp and golden and the apples are tender throughout (use a paring knife to check), 45 to 55 minutes.
- Let the dumplings cool for about 5 minutes. Serve warm, with a dousing of caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream, if using. (The dumplings are best eaten the day they’re made. You can keep any leftovers, covered tightly in plastic wrap, at room temperature.)
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
What a wonderful dessert! It tastes exactly like an apple pie but minus all the hard work. The apple is lightly sweetened, tender, soft and juicy. On the other hand, the rough puff is golden and flaky. I served my dumplings with some vanilla ice cream and voila, a delightful treat.
As mentioned in the rough puff pastry recipe, I used one disk, that is, half of the dough, for the apple dumplings. It turned out to be sufficient to cover 6 medium apples. I served it warm along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I would consider this recipe to yield 6 servings if each person gets one apple dumpling.
I loved this rough puff pastry recipe and found it easy to make and that it yielded a lovely flaky dough. I found that the smaller apples created a much better dumpling. As for the flavor, my whole family found them to be delicious with the perfect amount of spice and sweetness.
The ones made with apples any larger than approximately 200 grams were not cooked enough inside. I did not try pears, but I would imagine smaller pears would create a more tender fruit.
I was a little suspect of not grating my butter for rough puff pastry, but creating the shards worked really well. I froze my butter for 15 minutes before making the dough. I pushed the butter cubes down on the bottom of the bowl to squish them.
I baked the dumplings for 40 minutes and then found that they were getting really dark on the tops so I placed a piece of foil over them for the last 15 minutes of baking. I served them with vanilla ice cream.
Apple desserts are just the best. I chose this recipe because I felt like I would be making a different type of apple pie. Was very curious to see the results.
We were only 3, so I reduced the quantity of apples. When mixing sugar and spices, I kept the same quantity but followed the instructions when sprinkling sugar on top of the apples and the butter quantity too (1 tablespoon of sugar over the outside of each apple and 1/2 tablespoon pats). The dough covered the apples easily. Potentially too much dough on the top of the apples to seal. I chilled the apples for 30 minutes.
I used gala apples as this is what I managed to get. For the egg wash, I used milk. I skipped the caramel and served it with Greek yogurt instead of whipped cream.
I would definitely do this recipe again. It looks great, it’s fairly quick and most of the time, I’ve got all the ingredients at home. I think next time I would add a bit of lemon juice, more cinnamon and reduce the dough on the top of the apple.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
I like that this apple dumplings recipe gives everyone their own little dessert. I served it with vanilla ice cream and a side drizzle of salted butter caramel sauce. We also had one the next morning with coffee, and it retained all good qualities. (They didn’t last past the next morning.) The pastry and fruit benefited from a brief warming. This is a wonderful make-ahead recipe.
When I first rolled out the dough, I was doubtful that I would have enough, but there was plenty of dough to encase all the fruit—cortland apples and 1 pear. Although it didn’t look like enough visually, the dough is quite stretchy and very easy to work with. The pleating created plenty of dough at the top, and after pulling the dough around and over the first apple, I actually had extra dough to trim off the top. After encasing one fruit and understanding the properties of the dough, it was easier to manage the rest. In this process, it’s easy to make the bottom of the dough too thin (it’s so easy to pull the dough without breaking it) so I would recommend being mindful of that.
The sugar mixture was perfect for the fruit. Cooking time should be adjusted for the type of fruit and how ripe—Cortlands were barely soft after cooking as you would expect, and the pear was more firm. Both were delicious.
I chilled the apples and pear for about an hour. Cooking time was about 45 minutes to achieve a nice color. Some butter/sugar seeped out the bottom during cooking, but only enough to create a beautiful caramelized bottom on the fruit that was super yummy.
The only thing I would change when I make this again—I would peel all the fruit, (not just the pear as the recipe indicates).
I was really happy with this rough pastry dough recipe. It was simple and clear; the dough was smooth and very easy to work with. The recipe can be easily worked into your schedule, it’s very flexible. I followed the directions for flattening the butter, but also found it easy to smash the butter pieces flat on the bottom of the bowl and this gave my fingers a break. In the three folding steps, I was able to work quickly enough to do two rounds of folding back-to-back because the dough had such a smooth texture.
I will use this rough pastry dough for many other recipes, as it was delicious and very do-able—both the time it took and the method—and I love being able to pull this homemade dough right from my freezer.