A wonderful treat for a crisp autumn day, these dumplings may become a new family favorite.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Mix together flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Cut solid shortening into dry ingredients, make a well in the center, and add milk. Stir just until dough is fairly free from sides of bowl. Turn onto lightly floured board and knead 8 to 10 times. Cover and chill while preparing apples.
Combine sugar, butter, salt, and cinnamon and fill apple core hollows with most of this mixture. Roll out dough to ¼ inch thick and cut into 4 squares. Place an apple on each square and spread remaining sugar mixture over apples. Bring up corners of dough to cover apple and press edges together (dampen with a little water if necessary). Make sure edges are sealed or dumplings will pop open during baking. Brush with egg white and prick tops of dumplings with a fork. Carefully transfer dumplings to a baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue baking for about 40 minutes longer or until apples are tender when tested with a toothpick. Serve with cream (if using).