in the kitchen

in the kitchen

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Plum Dumplings (Germ Knodel)

Austrian ski resorts traditionally serve an amazing steamed plum dumpling make with a yeast dough at lunch time. My daughter Amy introduced me to them and I am a true fan! Not being able to buy them here (they are offered in the frozen food section of even small markets there), I have learned to make them.It isn't plum season, so I replace the traditional Plum Butter with Dried Plum Filling (see hints below). Be careful with this recipe, it could be your New Year's diet down fall!
Dumplings with Dried Plum Filling
1 cup dried plums
1 cup water
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange extract (optional)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon raw sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon orange extract (optional)
3 to 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1/2 cup melted butter (margarine if vegan)
Filling: Place the dried plums in a food processor bowl and pulse until well chopped, scrapping down sides of bowl as needed. Pour in 1/2 cup of the water and process until smooth. Pour into a small sauce pan and add the remaining water, sugar, salt and extract. Mix thoroughly and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat slightly. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring more frequently as mixture begins to thicken. Blend with an immersion blender until very smooth. Cook an additional 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Filling should be very thick and hold it's shape when stirred. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Dough: Pour the water into a mixing bowl. Stir in sugar and then sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to proof for about 5 minutes. Add salt, oil and extracts. Mix in flours, knead until dough is smooth but still a bit soft. Place in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in bulk.
Assembly: Punch down dough and pinch in half; pinch halves in half and continue until there are 16 small dough balls. Flatten each ball into a square about 4 x 4 inches. Place a generous tablespoon of filling in the center and then pull corners together. Pinch to seal tightly along seam lines.

Cooking: Using a heavy pot that has a tight fitting lid, place 2 inches of hot tap water under a buttered steamer tray. Place 3 or 4 dumplings on the steamer, leaving 1 to 2 inches of space between, and then cover pot with lid. Heat over medium high heat until you hear the water boiling. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes without removing the lid. Repeat with remaining dumplings. (Use a large steamer if you have one to cook more dumplings at once.) See Hints section for an alternate method of steaming. Before serving, combine sugar for topping with poppy seeds in a blender container. Blend on high for several seconds until poppy seeds are crushed and sugar is powdery. Serve topped with melted butter and generous spoonfuls of poppy seed sugar mixture.
Hints: The normal filling used in Austria is Plum Butter which is made by grinding several pounds of fresh plums and cooking them, starting with about 1/2 cup water, for 3 hours. Then the mixture is pressed through a sieve or ricer to remove skins. Plum Butter can be water bath processed in jars or frozen. I didn't have access to fresh plums so opted for the dried plum filling this time. Using the orange extract lent a fresher flavor to the filling but it is not necessary. I have replaced some of the white flour with some whole wheat but you can certainly use all white flour. The Austrian versions are formed into balls and placed seam side down but I like the little ridges and squared off look. I've tried making a large steamer by placing a cooling rack on top of ramekins in the bottom of a large roaster and pouring boiling water in. I put the dumplings on the greased rack, covered the roaster tightly with aluminum foil and baked at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. This method worked pretty well. A stack-able bamboo steamer would work great. An alternate topping is a simple vanilla custard sauce. A serving is two dumplings for lunch but for dessert one will probably do. They freeze well in plastic sandwich bags and can be re-heated in a microwave in a couple of minutes.

I love "germ knodel" which translates to "yeast dumplings". It's is one of my favorite dishes Amy has introduced me to since she has lived in Austria and that is something because she has introduced me to some absolutely wonderful cooking. Thanks Amy! 

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