Dumplings and turnovers are essentially pies with a difference. A dumpling is a whole fruit encased in pastry, while a turnover encloses a sweet or savory filling that can be a single ingredient or several. Basic pie pastry provides the foundation for both. The dough is rolled out and cut into portions, then either wrapped or folded around the filling.
Both dumplings and turnovers have homespun reputations. The Shakers, an American religious sect known for their good, plain food, favored pastry-wrapped fruit dumplings drenched in maple syrup, while Cornish miners carried meat-and-vegetable-filled turnovers called pasties in their lunch pails.
Although sometimes viewed as old-fashioned country fare, dumplings and turnovers can be dressed up with the simple addition of decorations created out of dough scraps. The charming leaves on Pastry-wrapped Pears and Apple Dumplings, are two fine examples.
Cutting a Circle of Dough
For each dumpling, roll out 1 ball of dough into a thick, flat disc. Place an 8-inch cake pan or plate atop the dough and cut around it to make an 8-inch circle of dough.
Wrapping Fruit with Pastry
To wrap an apple or other spherical fruit, set the filled fruit in the center of the pastry circle. Lift dough up around fruit, easing in excess dough around the stem end by gathering it in small pleats. Gently press down on each pleat to seal.
With a small knife, cut leaves freehand from the pastry scraps. Brush the underside of each leaf with water, then gently attach it to the top of the dumpling, pressing lightly to adhere.
Wrapping Fruit with Strips
To wrap elongated fruits such as pears, first cut strips of dough with a pastry wheel. Starting at the edge of the curved bottom of the pear, attach a strip and wind it around, overlapping the edges. Brush the end of a second strip with water, overlap it on the first, then wrap it around; repeat with the third strip.