The recipe my mother uses for apple dumplings was passed down from her great-great grandmother and predates the American Civil War. She cooks the apples down, into a chunky applesauce, then fills piecrust rounds with the mixture and draws the edges together like a little purse. She dots them with butter and then bakes them.
It's the sauce that really sets her dumplings apart. It's a cooked milk-based sweet sauce that you spoon over the hot dumplings. The sauce itself is good on nearly everything -- even ice cream. It's wonderful stuff. Apple dumplings are a special occasion dish around here, but they are wonderful.