It’s hard to find something more quintessentially southern than biscuits. Each family has a distinct recipe, and arguments over ingredients and technique have been known to cause long-lasting feuds.
This recipe, sent in by Ms. Carolyn McCosley, came from an used book store in Edenton, North Carolina. It was in the 2006 Methodist Kitchens of Edenton, which includes both cherished family recipes and revamped versions of popular recipes. These biscuits blend sweet apples with savory cheese, and are the perfect addition to any meal.
⅓ c. sugar
⅓ c. chopped walnuts
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1-¾ c. packaged biscuit mix
¾ c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¾ c. apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
⅓ c. cold water
¼ c. butter or margarine, melted
Preheat oven 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 9-inch round baking pan. In a small bowl stir together sugar, nuts and cinnamon; set aside. Stir together biscuit mix, cheddar cheese, and chopped apple. Make a well in center of biscuit/cheese mix; add water all at once, stirring just until moistened. Form into a ball. Flatten dough on floured surface. Divide into 18 pieces; shape each into a ball. Roll in melted butter or margarine; then in sugar/nut mixture. Arrange in a baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 18.
If you’re looking for recommendations on which apples to use, try the American Golden Pippen. This apple was discovered in New Jersey, but has its roots in the South. It grows well in most places, and when grown in Eastern North Carolina’s sandy soil, “it is less tart and very good for eating and cooking.” 
Apple dumplings are traditionally associated with the Pennslyvania Dutch. They are a favorite dessert or breakfast item in which apples are peeled and cored and set on a piece of dough. On the dough, the apples are doused in a combination of sugars and spice depending on the recipe and then the dough is folded over the apples and baked in syrup with sugar and butter.
Although this recipe may not be the most historical representative use of apples in Eastern N.C. the recipe intriguingly showed up in several community cookbooks from the outer-banks and as well as from other cities inland. The recipe may have arrived with American-Germans who settled in the Piedmont and from there spread out East through migration in the state.
Making Apple Dumplings
During our cooking, we opted to make the recipe based off a recipe found on a cooking blog. The original recipe and blog post for this version of apple dumplings can be found here.
- 2 small apples ,peeled and cored
- 8 ounce tube refrigerated Pillsbury crescent roll dough
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 cup Sprite soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Cut each apple into 4 wedges.
Separate the crescent dough into 8 triangles.
Place an apple wedge near the small end of the dough triangle, then roll up. Pinch the ends to seal. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Add in the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon; stir until combined and smooth.
Drizzle butter mixture over the dough.
Pour the Sprite to the sides of the dumplings (not on top) so a nice crust is formed while baking.
Bake until golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork, 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes.
Using Old Southern Apple Varieties for the Dumplings
For those wishing to recreate Apple Dumplings using Southern apple varieties, we recommend the following apples that were mentioned by writers of letters to Creighton Lee Calhoun. These apples were chosen because the authors of these letters indicated that the apples were suitable for baking. Whether they appeal to contemporary tastes is up to you to find out!
- Summer Lady Finger
- Rexrod Beauty
- Rusty Coat [Mentioned in a letter about fried apple pie, could work well in apple dumplings]
One mention of a good baking apple came from Jack M. Mathews who in 1995 letter wrote that the “[Summer Lady Finger] is my favorite apple for eating, cider-making, and baking.”
Jack M. Mathews wrote to Calhoun in 1995 about a fruit tree called a Summer Lady Finger that he had grafted a few years prior to the letter. The graft originally came from a Mr. Green who lived in the upper end of Grayson County, Virginia.