Apple Desserts for Fall

22 September 2021

Autumn is apple harvest time.  On a nice, sunny day in September, a trip to a local orchard can be a fun outing for a family, a date, or just friends.  Some owners offer the opportunity to try picking your own fruit or they have varieties for sale.  You will also find lots of fresh produce at roadside stands and farmers’ markets.  All of this boils down to lots of choices for apple-filled desserts.  Here are some suggestions:

Pie – A pie is defined by having both a top and bottom pastry crust.  The top crust can be solid or lattice design.

Crumble – This will generally have a bottom pastry crust and a streusel topping that completely covers the top of the dessert.  The streusel is a combination of flour, butter, and sugar.  Some add finely chopped nuts.  A Dutch apple pie would be an example.

Crisp – Very similar to a crumble but the topping contains oats, making it a bit crispier (thus the name) than a crumble.  The terms crumble and crisp are often used interchangeably.

Cobbler – This is far more rustic with a top that is not smooth.  It gets its name because it appears “cobbled together” or looks like a cobblestone street.  Frequently the topping is a biscuit type that is dropped by spoonfuls onto the top and then baked.  Some have a pastry crust instead of biscuits or even cake batter or cookie dough.

Buckle – This looks like a coffee cake.  It is fruit and cake baked together and is topped with streusel.

Betty – This also has a streusel (without oats) but it is layered throughout the dessert rather than just on top, as in Apple Brown Betty.

Fritter – Take a cored and peeled apple cut into rings; dip it in a simple batter and then quick fry.  Looks like a donut but the coating does not have any yeast.

Turnover – Fill pastry dough (or puff pastry) with an apple mixture; close the pastry into a small packet or half moon; seal the edges and bake.  This is like a sweet hand pie.

With September 26 as National Dumpling Day, we celebrate with a recipe for apple dumplings.

Apple Dumplin
“Apple dumplings, farmer’s market” by ExarchIzain is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0app

Apple Dumpling Recipe

  • Enough pastry for double-crust pie, homemade or store bought
  • 6 large apples, peeled and cored, your favorite variety or a combination
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Butter a 9×13 inch pan.


On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry into a large rectangle, about 24 by 16 inches. Cut into 6 square pieces. Place an apple on each pastry square with the cored opening facing upward. Cut butter into 8 pieces. Place 1 piece of butter in the opening of each apple; reserve remaining butter for sauce. Divide brown sugar between apples, poking some inside each cored opening and the rest around the base of each apple. Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg over the apples.

With slightly wet fingertips, bring one corner of pastry square up to the top of the apple, then bring the opposite corner to the top and press together.  The water will help seal the opening.  Bring up the two remaining corners, and seal. Slightly pinch the dough at the sides to completely seal in the apple. Repeat with the remaining apples.  Use an egg wash as an option to make it glossy. Place in prepared baking dish.  Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes.


Combine water, white sugar, vanilla extract and reserved butter. Place over medium heat, and bring to a boil in a large saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes, or until sugar is dissolved.   

To serve:

Place each apple dumpling in a dessert bowl, and spoon some sauce over the top.  Instead of the sauce perhaps some Vanilla Bean ice cream.

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