Easy gluten free apple dumplings, baked in a simple pie crust, have all the taste and aroma of apple pie without all the fuss. Apple season is the most wonderful time of the year!
The calendar says it’s September, my children have gone back to school, and I have become irritating in my insistence that we plan our annual trip to the apple orchard. It must be fall! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, if you ask me.
Apples and cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and allspice. Bring it all on. I’ve been waiting all summer for this.
In case you’ve never gone to an orchard and picked your own apples, I’ll tell you what you’re missing. If you’re really lucky and get a gorgeous, crisp fall day, it’s bound to be one you and your family and friends will remember—especially as you muscle through the long winter months and bellyache about how we never get to enjoy a real fall and a real spring any more.
But even if you aren’t blessed with such a perfect day, the apple haul you bring home will be more than worth it. You’ll find none of that waxy coating you find on apples at the store. And when you pick the apples right from the tree with your very own hands, you won’t mind a ding here or an imperfection there. The skin on all kinds of apples from the actual orchard is also so much thinner. No wax!
At the end of the day, it won’t much matter where you get the apples you use for these dumplings. You’ll peel, core and slice them anyway, and then toss them with cinnamon and sugar, which everybody knows makes up for a multitude of ills.
Since these are dumplings, and not pie, you will have to peel and core the apples, but there’s no need to slice them thinly. Large chunks, 8 per apple, are individually wrapped in a gorgeous, flaky gluten free pie crust and then baked to perfection. Even those big chunks of apple become perfectly tender as they’re each baked separately in their own pie crust dumpling.
You can even peel and core each apple and, rather than cutting it into 8 chunks, wrap the whole apple in a larger piece of pastry and bake it until perfectly tender. Either way, it’s all the pleasure of an apple pie with little of the trouble. You just can’t lose.
First, make the crust. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the chopped and chilled butter, and toss to coat the butter in the dry ingredients. Press each floured chunk of butter between a floured thumb and forefinger to flatten. Add the cream cheese, and toss to coat as well, and flatten each chunk of cream cheese in the same manner. Create a well in the center of the large bowl of dry ingredients, add 1/2 cup of the ice water, and mix to combine. The dough will begin to come together. If there are any very crumbly bits, add more ice water by the tablespoon and mix to combine. Press the dough together, and divide into two equal portions. Transfer each portion of the dough to a separate large piece of plastic wrap, cover and press each into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Once the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 375°F. Line large rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper, and set them aside.
Shape the crust. Turn one piece of dough out onto a well-floured surface. Dust the surface with a bit more flour, and roll it out with a rolling pin into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise, dust again lightly with flour, and roll the dough out again into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Once more, fold the rectangle in half lengthwise, and then fold again widthwise to create a thick square. Dust the square lightly with flour, and roll the dough out into a rectangle that is about 9-inches by 12-inches and 1/4-inch thick. Place the pie crust on a flat surface and then in the freezer until firm (about 5 minutes). Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Assemble the dumplings. While the rolled out crust is chilling, place the apple chunks in a medium-size bowl, and toss with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and the salt. Remove one piece of pie crust from the freezer and, with a pastry wheel or shaper knife, slice the crust into 12 3-inch squares. Roll each square individually until it is about 1/8-inch thick (the thickness of a nickel). Place an apple chunk on the lower third of each piece of dough, and roll up the apple loosely in the dough. Cinch the ends together to seal, and place about 1 inch apart on a prepared baking sheet.** Brush the dumplings with the melted butter, and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and sugar. Repeat with the remaining dough and apples. Place the baking sheets in the refrigerator or freezer until mostly firm.
**At this point, the dumplings can be frozen in a single layer on the baking sheet, then placed in a freezer-safe container and frozen until ready to bake. They can then be baked from frozen. Just follow the rest of the instructions before baking.
Bake the dumplings. Place the dumplings in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden brown all over, and the apples are tender (test by piercing a dumpling carefully with a sharp knife or toothpick). Serve immediately.
Recipe originally published on the blog in 2013. Text updated, photos mostly new, recipe only slightly changed.