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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

International Dumpling Incident - Zwetschkenknödel

What I did on my holidays by Conor

Because I was so good I got to go to a far away place called Austria where the boys wear funny shorts and the girls have pretty hair. Mum says that there was a nice lady called Maria who used to live there but a dog bit her and she got stung by a bee so she doesn't live there any more. There is lots of nice food in Austria. I ate lots of tacos and corn and avocado and a nice green sauce called salsa verde (but you say it like verday). I liked the food so much I bought a cookbook to bring home with me but I think I got the wrong one cos it doesn't have any of that food in it.

When Penny announced the next International Incident Party (yes, it has been a month since the last one) was going to be dumplings, I saw this as an opportunity to try and right some of my culinary wrongs when I visited Vienna a few years ago. Sure, I spent every morning having at least a three course breakfast in the hotel, trying every possible combination of delicious local breads and cheeses and of course finishing off with a slice or two of torte, and my friend and I had two deliciously porky dinners at Siebensternbräu, but it seems like most other meals were eaten at a little authentic Mexican place we discovered and fell in love with. What's not to like about spicy, authentic Mexican food, cold beer and mariachi bands?

Well, what's not to like about it is that it's not terribly Austrian, and no amount of dancing around the Mexican hat can deny that I really dropped the ball with taking advantage of the local desserts. I ate no nockerln (soufflés). I missed out on Kaiserschmarrn (Emperor's Pancake). My first experience of eating the world famous Viennese Sachertorte was when I made it myself back in Perth using the cookbook that I brought back with me (though this had the bonus of me being able to pretend it was just like the real thing).

It was therefore an easy choice for me to decide upon which variation of the term "dumpling" I was going to run with. It wasn't going to be "a small ball of dough cooked and served with stew", "a Chinese dumpling filled with spiced minced pork; usually served in soup" or a "short, chubby creature". I was going to go with "a dessert consisting of a wrapping of dough enclosing sliced apples or other fruit, boiled or baked", and by Johann, I was going to make it from my Austrian cookbook!

Luckily for me, I had used this cookbook before and knew to read the recipe through thoroughly before getting started. I didn't want to have another Sachertorte incident, where I discovered that when they said "stir the chocolate into the cream" they actually meant "do NOT stir the chocolate into the cream listed in the ingredients - save this to serve with the finished torte and instead stir the chocolate into the creamed butter and sugar".

So, I will give to you the recipe as given in my cookbook, but will also give you my changes and suggestions as highlighted.

Burgenländer Marillenknödel (Apricot Dumplings) (I made Zwetschkenknödel (Plum Dumplings))
from Austrian Pastries and Desserts by Maria Wiesmüller

approx.1 lb potatoes, cooked / 450 g potatoes (I used Royal Blue, and didn't cook them before following step 1, which tells you to cook them)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup flour
2 Tb semolina
grated rind of 1/2 lemon (next time I'll use a whole lemon)
2 Tb butter, softened
2 egg yolks

approx. 1 lb fresh or canned apricots, pitted (I used 10 canned plums, which I removed from the juice and dried as well as I could using paper towel)
5-6 sugar cubes (I used 10 little "boondies" of brown sugar)
8 Tb butter mixed with sugar and just over 1/2 cup bread crumbs (8 Tb butter mixed with sugar? I ended up using about 75g butter and around 1 Tb brown sugar)

1. Boil, peel and rice the baking potatoes. I peeled them, cut into smaller chunks, boiled until soft, then drained well and put the saucepan back onto the (turned off) hotplate briefly to get rid of any excess moisture before ricing them with my trusty spoon & sieve method.

2. Combine potatoes with salt, flour, semolina, soft butter and egg yolks (and presumably the lemon rind too, which doesn't make an appearance in their methodology) and mix in a mixing bowl to form a smooth dough. Let stand approx. 30 minutes. (Another recipe I've since read says you must use this dough immediately, but I left mine for the 30 minutes while preparing the plums)

Mmmmm..plum piles

3. Wash apricots and press out pits. Replace pit with half a sugar cube. I was using canned plums, which were filled with juice, and I wasn't sure how strong the dough would be at holding up against super wet plums so I tried to dry them as much as I could using paper towel. Sadly the plums were also incredibly soft, and lost most of their shape as I did this, try as I might to be gentle. So, I just pressed my little boondies of brown sugar into the centre of the pile o' plum and wrapped the rest around. The end result did not resemble lovely little plums with sugary centres but rather masses of soft plum with some sugar jammed in the middle. The Austrian equivalent of Donna Hay (Dönna Häy?) would not be amused.

4. Form a 2 1/2-inch-thick roll and cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Flatten each slice somewhat and place apricot in centre. Fold dough over fruit and roll to form a ball. I just grabbed little chunks of the dough, rolled them in my hands to smooth the outside then flattened them out, placing the plums in the centre, folding the dough over and then rolling to form a ball.

5. Gently drop the dumplings into 2 qt lightly salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes. I did not bother converting 2 qt water to something my metric brain understands but instead filled a large saucepan with enough lightly salted water to cover the dumplings. I then brought the water to the boil before gently adding the dumplings to the pan, cooking them for around 10 minutes. They were floating when I removed them.

6. Meanwhile brown the breadcrumbs in the melted butter. Remove dumplings with a slotted spoon and roll in bread crumbs. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately. Don't you love it when recipes say "Meanwhile...". It's like they're testing to see if you bothered reading ahead before getting started. I browned the butter and breadcrumbs (and mysterious sugar) in a frying pan, then removed the dumplings using a slotted spoon and place them in the frying pan, moving them around to coat them in the buttery crumbs. I then removed to a plate, dusted with icing sugar, and served.

Awaiting a dumpling craving, the little babies lie dormant

Given that it was 10:30pm by the time I finished these, and there were only two tired girls in the house, I cooked enough to photograph and then froze the rest uncooked. I'm not sure how well they'll go being cooked after freezing but I guess I'll find out when a dumpling craving hits. The leftover cooked ones I put in the fridge, and they were great reheated the next day.

My housemate and I were both happy with the late night result. The potato gives quite a firm yet spongy texture to the dough, the innards had a nice balance between sweetness and tartness, and the crunchy buttery crumbs added a real, hmmm, crunchy butteryness. The overall taste of the dough was really similar to pancakes cooked in butter. Delicious. My only regret is that the plums didn't exactly look the prettiest, so it is probably a good idea to use fresh plums or apricots if you can.

Please go and have a look at all the other dumplings, linked from Penny's round up, and finally may I wish a very big happy birthday to all the International Incident May babies - Divina Pe of Sense & Serendipity, Shirley of Enriching your kid, Pam of My Man’s Belly, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz and a super big happy birthday to Mardi of eat, live, travel, write who is celebrating her big 4-0 today and who I am meeting up with in Toronto in a few weeks! Happy birthday ladies!


penny aka jeroxie May 12, 2010 at 6:10 PM  

Clap hands! Brilliant. I want to try this. I was thinking of making a germany dessert dumplings and then decided to return to my roots instead. Excellent choice!~

juji May 12, 2010 at 6:15 PM  

That looks right up my alley. I love a good dumpling!

Personal fave? Glutinous rice flour dumplings with oozy palm sugar middles.


They look somewhat like snot, but they really taste good. (Was that an over share?)

Mark @ Cafe Campana May 12, 2010 at 6:51 PM  

The potato dough looks very cool. I have never seen anything like it.

Shirley May 12, 2010 at 7:10 PM  

They simply look great and should taste yumm I bet.

Emma @CakeMistress May 12, 2010 at 8:07 PM  

These dumplings are full of Delicious. They taste like pancakes cooked in butter? EPIC WIN. Thanks for sharing!

Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) May 12, 2010 at 8:56 PM  

Don't you love it when recipes that are there to teach you what to do, screw with their supposed instruction instead? Nevermind, the dumplings look wonderfully comforting for this cooler weather and I especially like the crumb layer on the outside.

Amy @ cookbookmaniac May 12, 2010 at 9:00 PM  

These look so interesting. It sounds like an exhausting task that paid off at the end. Yum.

Hannah May 12, 2010 at 9:05 PM  

LOVE the story at the beginning. Always good to have a giggle :) And those dumplings look beautiful, though I've never had anything like them in my life. At least you got to Austria - I'm so cranky that I didn't put it on my itinerary!

Why must all this stupid "normal life and job" business get in teh way of endless travel and Kaiserschmarrn eating, Conor? Why?

erin May 12, 2010 at 9:20 PM  

I want in on this crazy recipe party thing. Unfortunately my creative mind is limited in the kitchen (and most places, come to think of it). For the mean time, I'll just have to ogle your yummy looking dumplings - although that sounds kind of porny...

I'm envisioning these with some kind of chocolate orangey filling as being also quite good. Or maybe chocolate dough with some kind of orangey filling. I'm clearly craving chocolate orange atm.

Anonymous May 12, 2010 at 10:32 PM  

Wow, these look so yummy and just wonderful with the plum filling! I know my family would love these; I need to make them very soon!

Mardi Michels May 12, 2010 at 10:37 PM  

Bravo Conor! And how did I know you would pick something with cool accents in its name? ;-)

NikiTheo May 13, 2010 at 12:07 AM  

Wow, these look delicious! You think they would be great with some berries instead?

Pam May 13, 2010 at 12:34 AM  

I've never made dumplings before... these look so delicious and pretty.

Karen Harris May 13, 2010 at 12:55 AM  

Mexican food in Vienna?! How wonderful! I love Mexican food no matter where it's served. Love this post and the recipe. Beautiful photo.

By the way, I'm sure your mother is very proud of her "perfect" daughter. We mothers also have to take a little responsibility for how crazy we make our children at times. I guess it's never too late to change our wicked ways.

Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz May 13, 2010 at 1:53 AM  

OMG...I thought they were bite sized until I saw the pic of it in your hand. Your sure know how o get a handfull ;-)

Great choice, although as a being 1/4 Austrian I am a little miffed at the apricot substitute. OK I forgive you lol.

Really nice job!

Sook May 13, 2010 at 3:33 AM  

Wow.. plum dumplings! These look absolutely delicious!!

Tasty Trix May 13, 2010 at 3:42 AM  

Awesome job, umlaut sister! (Funny, I almost made germknodel ... future post.) Isn't Vienna great? I love it. My husband, whose mom is Austrian, would flip for these!!

Jenn [Defunkt Gourmet] May 13, 2010 at 5:32 AM  

So... you went to Austria and mainly dined on Mexican food??? That is awesome and hilarious!!! rofl....

But besides eating Mexican food in Europe, I think these dumplings look great and the plums add a nice colour. I like the darkness because it reminds me of red bean paste. Great job Conrad :)

Lauren aka Ms Baklover May 13, 2010 at 6:22 AM  

Heh, don't you love cookbooks in translation? They look delicious though. So interesting potatoes are used for dough!

Jo - SecondHelping May 13, 2010 at 6:34 AM  

How better than to right a culinary faux pas by paying such brilliant homage.

Love the coating of breadcrumbs and powdered sugar - makes them truly look scrumptious.

Tangled Noodle May 13, 2010 at 9:41 AM  

Good honkin' gracious! I'm not even going to try and say either of those names . . . However, I would happily eat my fair share of these dumplings! The plums look delicious to me. Thanks so much translating the translation of this recipe! 8-)

Conor @ HoldtheBeef May 13, 2010 at 11:35 AM  

penny aka jeroxie - thank you! I'm glad you returned to your roots, love the glutinous rice!

juji - mmmmmm snot, lovely. I've been having mad cravings for glutinous rice + mango after indulging in some amazing goopy mango rolls at yum cha the other day. God they were good. I can imagine how good it would be with oozy palm sugar.

Mark - yeah it was a cool texture to bite into!

Shirley - thanks, they were! :)

Emma - thank you! Gotta love getting some butter action every now and then, and fried butter action is the best!

mademoiselle délicieuse - I know! It's like, you're trying to learn about other cuisines and putting in the effort, but they're just not making it easy for you! Thanks heaps, the crumby layer was definitely a winner.

Amy - a little exhausting on the brain juice, but yes worth it :) thanks!

Hannah - :D thanks! I'm so needing to go back to Austria to really right my wrongs. I can only hope that Mexican restaurant has closed and won't tempt me any more. I know, normal life stuff sucks. So inconsiderate of it.

erin - join in! Join in! You don't have to be creative, just google for recipes til you find something doable and tasty! Chocolate orange is a damn good idea for these, it would work for sure. I guess you could stick anything inside, really. And yes baby, ogle away at my dumplings ;)

5 Star Foodie - thank you! I hope you do!

Mardi - thanks!! Hehe, I'm dorkily predictable ;)

NikiTheo - thank you! Yes I think they'd be great with berries. I really think you could stick most things inside as long as it wasn't too runny to work with.

Pam - wow, that surprises me! I guess you're too busy making other delicious things :)

Karen Harris - It was damn good Mexican food, I can tell you. Ah, thanks Karen, between this and your post you've managed to really help me feel better about my intolerant and intolerable years :) Much appreciated!

Evelyne - haha! Bite sized? No way Jose! Still, I guess if they were bitesized you could eat even more, and get more buttery crumbs :D Yay thanks for the forgiveness, phew!

Sook - thank you! :)

Trix - we rocked the umlauts! :D Vienna is gorgeous, and the weather was unseasonably warm when I was there, just perfect.

Jenn - I know, what a dork, but I couldn't help myself! It's not my fault! Yes, you're right about the bean paste, which I think would also work well in these. Thank you!

Ms Baklover - they make it a real culinary adventure I guess. Just not so good if you're pressed for time and unprepared! Thanks :)

Jo - thank you! The crunchy buttery crumbs really took them from tasty to a great dessert :)

Tangled Noodle - haha, me neither, I'll just type them! Thank you very much! My pleasure!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella May 13, 2010 at 11:45 AM  

Ooh my Austrian friend made these for me! They were quite good! So are we going to see some lovely Austrian pics? :D

Cherrie Pie May 13, 2010 at 12:11 PM  

Seriously, the first word to come out of my mouth when I saw your pic was "wow". Your dumplings look soooo good. I love the coating of the breadcrumbs and sugar. YUM

Arwen from Hoglet K May 13, 2010 at 2:58 PM  

It's interesting that the dough is like gnocchi, and it would have a nice texture. In German supermarkets they have a whole aisle dedicated to "potato products"!

Trissa May 13, 2010 at 3:16 PM  

Congratulations on pulling this one off - it looks very different from all the other dumplings I've seen from the International Incident - truly unique - like you! They are beautiful dumpling...

Agnes May 13, 2010 at 4:42 PM  

Now THAT'S a dumpling! Look at the size of those puppies. They know how to do it in Austria, hey!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef May 13, 2010 at 6:48 PM  

Lorraine - oh you are so lucky to have an authentic real life Austrian make these instead of an Aussie squinting at a somewhat poorly translated recipe! The trip was a number of years ago, pre-blogging, so perhaps I'll just wait until my next visit to properly write about it :)

Cherrie Pie - just the response I love to get! :D Thanks so much!

Arwen from Hoglet K - yes, I was thinking that too. Applied some of my gnocchi principles to it, with choice of potato and trying to dry them out after cooking. Haha, I'd love to see that aisle!

Trissa - thank you! Yes I'm glad to have gone in a slightly different way to the mainly savoury ones, but oh god they all look so good, again I'm blown away by the talent out there! Aw, thanks :D

Agnes - haha, go hard or go home! :D

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge May 13, 2010 at 8:17 PM  

hhhahahahahaa, This has to be the first time I've ever heard of a bobbie-trapped recipe....you're doomed to fail!!

I'm lad you worked out what they were tryingto tell you, they look pretty dan good!

Anonymous May 14, 2010 at 8:38 AM  

These dumpling type desserts are on my to make list...eventually. it just seems like such a complicated task! And despite the minor setbacks you faced, I must say they look really awesome! you've got one lucky housemate!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef May 14, 2010 at 9:50 AM  

Maria - Yes, that Maria Wiesmüller is a sneaky one, wanting all the dumplings and sachertorte for herself! Thanks!

vickys - nah, basically it is boiling some spuds, mushing them up with some flour and stuff, grabbing handfuls of the the dough and squishing something yummy in the middle, then simmer them and voila! Dumplings! You could do it one handed I'm sure :) and we need to fatten you up after all that dodgy tummy business!

OohLookBel May 14, 2010 at 11:11 AM  

What big dumplings you have :D I'm not a dumpling eater but I think everyone should try the German/Austrian ones like you've made, just to say the words 'Zwetschkenknödel' - ja wohl!

tasteofbeirut May 14, 2010 at 11:30 AM  

Love it! So unusual and fun! Never had anything even remotely like this~

krissy @ thefoodaddicts.com May 14, 2010 at 12:01 PM  

that is pretty amazing, conor. they look perfect!!

Anonymous May 14, 2010 at 3:08 PM  

Did you happen to travel with Tasty Trix? I feel I really need to revisit Austrian cuisine. There is a trend forming. I was so blinded during my trip to Vienna looking for goulash that I missed a lot!

These sweet treats look great! Both plums and apricots are plentiful in Bulgaria, so I have lots to work with!

denise @ quickies on the dinner table May 14, 2010 at 6:01 PM  

Wow! I thought those were red bean dumplings on steroids *gasp* cos my cursor got away from me and scrolled past the title straight to the pictures... Trying to imagine plums instead of adzuki and I'm really intrigued! They look fab Conor!!

My Man's Belly May 15, 2010 at 12:13 AM  

These look and sound delicious. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who cooks late at night.

Forager May 15, 2010 at 9:15 PM  

Ooh, looks like a delicious sugary donutty dumpling!

Celeste @ Berrytravels May 16, 2010 at 10:26 AM  

I must say, I am most impressed! Definitely not within my normal definition of dumplings (in which my scope is rather narrow and limited) so this really intrigues me! Time to start experimenting, me thinks!

pierre May 17, 2010 at 1:47 AM  

oh come on Conor I don't buy this thing that you had good food in Austria !!!!
You should have pushed to France !! cheers de Pierre in paris

Nirmala May 17, 2010 at 2:12 AM  

Wow! Look at these. Quite the cook you are.

Simply Life May 17, 2010 at 8:26 PM  

wow, that is impressive! those look great!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef May 17, 2010 at 10:46 PM  

OohLookBel - all the better to tempt you with, my dear :) I gotta make them be a big mouthful to match the word!

tasteofbeirut - thank you! Glad to show you something unusual as you are constantly doing the same to me :)

krissy - thanks so much! :D

Casey Angelova - I wish I did, maybe then I would have eaten more Austrian food! I really need to get back there too. Thanks very much :)

denise - hehe, that's a great idea you've accidentally had there! Thanks! :)

My Man's Belly - thanks very much! Yes, I have a habit of leaving these things far too late. It's worse when you have to wait for something to cool before you can leave it though!

Forager - donutty dumpling. Excellent.

Celeste - Thank you! I really need to try my hand at savoury dumplings. They scare me a little.

pierre - I did I did I swear! Still haven't been to France, but will be in London in a few weeks and considering a quick day trip over to eat as much as I can before heading back to London. Will pack some elastic pants.

Nirmala - thank you very much :)

Simply Life - thanks!!

A cupcake or two May 18, 2010 at 1:55 PM  

ok so how do you pronounce ZWETSCHKENKNÖDEL?? They are certainly big balls of goodness. I want to try them. From my first glance, they looked deep fried.

MaryMoh May 18, 2010 at 4:39 PM  

Love these dumpling. Looks soft and delicious....mmm

Lori @ Wannabe Gourmand May 21, 2010 at 12:01 PM  

Oh wow - these look awesome! Have never heard of these before...deeeeelicious

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My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating, though I never quite recovered from the beef I was served at college. I'll try almost anything once, but it takes a very special piece of offal or beef to get me to try it again.

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