I love all dumpling/bun variants – even the spaetzle type which have no filling. I am not picky – steam or boil a blob of dough and I will go nuts for it. So, when I got an invite to a potluck brunch and then came across a “Dumpling” section in my 1960s Gourmet Cookbook and found some sweet-savory types I went through the roof. And then I calmed down and made…Zwetschgenknoedel!
OK, so technically I didn’t make proper Zwetschgenknoedel: these German dumplings are technically supposed to be stuffed with fresh prune plums. I misread the recipe in haste and bought dried prunes. Thankfully, prunes are the moistest of all dried fruits, so I figured the wrinkly version would do fine. I even soaked them in a bit of triple sec to moisten them up a bit more (you might have noticed I have a penchant for boozy cooking). Google yielded a number of traditional German takes on these plum poppers: some have yeast dough, some use quark or cream cheese…
The Gourmet Cookbook uses a potato-based dough. This is why I love vintage cookbooks: I’m not sure whether this is super traditional or whether this is Gourmet trying, in its 60s way, to be cosmopolitan – whether this is the German equivalent of a Chop Suey recipe. Anyhow, my dried prune potato dumplings turned out pretty tasty. The one problem was they they were stuck in a kind of limbo between Sweet and Savory. I’d advocate adding more spices and maybe rolling the prunes in flour instead of sugar…and then using these as a tasty unusual accompaniment for a sauce-heavy meat dish. They’d go really well with a red wine-based pot roast, for example.
Zwetschgenknoedel (Prune Dumplings)
(Makes about 16)
3 medium-large boiling potatoes
1/2 c. flour, plus more for dusting
1 large egg
16 dried, pitted prunes
3 tbsp. triple sec
1/2 tsp. spices (e.g., cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger) mixed with 1 tbsp. sugar
1. Place the prunes in triple sec to soak. In the meantime, peel, boil, and mash the potatoes.
2. When the potatoes have cooled, add the egg, 1/2 c. flour, nutmeg, and salt. Mix with a fork, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead until well combined. The dough should feel smooth, not sticky; add more flour (a tablespoon or two at a time) if it is not cohering properly.
3. Flour your hands. Take a 1 1/2-inch ball of dough and flatten it in your palm to form a 1/4-inch thick disc. Roll a prune in the spice-sugar mix, place it in the middle of the disc of dough, and pinch the edges of the disc shut to form a ball. Repeat until either the prunes or the dough are used up.
4. Cook the dumplings in salted, boiling water for 10 minutes.
5. Drain, toss with a little melted butter, and serve as desired while warm.
I’m impressed by how the potato texture kept after boiling. I’d substitute meat for prunes though.
that probably sounds more critical than i intended. rather, i just happen to love meat more than prunes 🙂
When I was was growing up in the 50s and 60s – OK the 70s too! But the only dumplings we knew about in the UK were made with suet which you could get from a supermarket (not that there were any of these then – not in my town anyway). Suet appeared to be flour rolled around fat (don’t ask!) to form elongated pellets. it came in a box. It was a staple of suet puddings (MMM) and Xmas pudding. I was never able to find it in the US but as an ingredient in boiled beef and dumplings it was essential. These look wonderful but your suggestion about accompanying meat is right – maybe a roast pork?
What about lekvar, prune jam, instead of the prunes? The Germans also use poppy seed paste, mun, for filling dumplings. So, you could have buoyant hamantaschen, but they might be good.
The potato-plum dumpling is legit. It’s what my Bavarian mama always makes when we have Zwetschgen. (Look for “Italian Prune Plums”)