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This may be the most controversial recipe name ever. Honestly, growing up, my family only knew these as apple dumplings. Later in life when making these for friends, I had people telling me these were in fact not dumplings. I know about the “traditional dumplings,” as I now call them: whole apples encased in pastry dough and baked until golden.
I grew up with a different type of dumpling that really makes more sense to be called an apple dumpling roll. It’s a deconstructed dumpling where the pastry is rolled out, sprinkled with apples, and rolled up like a cinnamon roll.
Either way, these are delicious, and who even cares what they’re called when they’re this tasty!
What is an apple dumpling?
The word dumpling usually insinuates a package or a bundle created from dough packed with a filling. Oftentimes, whole or quartered apples are wrapped in dough and baked with a syrup.
This recipe, on the other hand, looks more like a cinnamon roll but has all the characteristics of a dumpling. A short pastry dough is rolled with sliced apples with a traditional heavy syrup poured over the prepared unbaked rolls. During the baking, the syrup thickens and bakes into the apple dumpling rolls. The top of the rolls becomes golden and crisp and the underside is soft with the syrup.
Why peel an apple?
Most recipes that call for the use of apples for baking begin by peeling the apples. In this recipe, the apples can of course be peeled. Personally, I do not see a need. Once baked, the peel of the apple becomes soft. The baked peel does retain some texture but when mixed with the pastry, I have never found a reason not to enjoy the peel.
Leaving the peel also helps retain some of the structure of the fruit. Instead of it easily falling apart, the peel holds the apple together to give something more tangible with each bite.
Watch how to make these apple dumpling rolls
Apple Dumpling Rolls
For the pastry
- 2 cups flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ cup milk
- 4 cups sliced apples
- ⅓ cup white granulated sugar
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
For the syrup
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×9 baking dish and set it aside.
- Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the dry ingredients. Using your thumb and forefinger, press pieces of the butter into the flour. Continue incorporating the butter until the mixture resembles wet sand with pieces of butter no larger than the size of a pea.
- Add the milk and stir. Form the shaggy dough together, kneading it to form a cohesive dough.
- Roll out the dough to 18 by 12 inches, much like would be done for cinnamon rolls. Thickly layer about three cups of the prepared apples on top of the dough and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the remaining one cup of sliced apples into the prepared baking dish.
- Tightly roll the dough, once again would be done with rolls, starting with the long side. Cut into nine rolls and place in the baking dish on top of the apples.
- In a small saucepan, combine the water and brown sugar. Stir to dissolve and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer until the sugar is fully dissolved, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour over the apple roll dumplings.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the dumplings are golden and the syrup is bubbling throughout, about 45-60 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before serving.