Friday 17 September 2010

Austrian Bread Dumplings

The things you see in this picture are definitely comfort food (translation: composed of butter and carbohydrates). But wait, they have vegetables with them! 
...That makes it okay, right??

Oh well. I never said this blog was diet-friendly. 

Anyway, as the name implies, these dumplings are made from leftover bread. This can be dry bread or, in this case, bread that was just kind of lackluster in its original form. Considering how quickly GF bread can dry out, it's always good to know that there are other things you can do with it besides french toast!

(As an aside, there's a reason I've ended up with lots of extra bread. I won't say just yet what I've been working on, but I can tell you that soon I will have a very exciting recipe to share!)

Recipes seem to vary widely, but this one seemed most the dumpling meal I'd had in Austria - although there I had it with mushroom gravy. It was very good. However, gravy takes a little more time, get impatient when I'm hungry. If you have more patience than me (or are better at planning ahead), I do recommend trying these with some gravy.

In Austria these are called semmel knoedeln, by the way. However, I shall continue to refer to them as dumplings. Because it's easier to say. (I never did get the hang of German.) 

So here's what you do:

1) Find some dry bread. Recipes I've found call for something along the lines of a baguette - the bread I used was denser, but I wouldn't recommend using anything really hearty or with lots of seeds in.

2) Chop dry bread into small cubes until you have a total of somewhere around 2 cups (volume is more important than weight in this case). If you'd rather use a food processor, take care not to turn it into crumbs - you want the dumplings to keep some texture.

3) Melt 1/2 T butter in a skillet and lightly brown the bread cubes. Meanwhile, measure out 75-80 grams / about 2/3 - 3/4 cup of a self-raising flour blend.

I used 50 g tapioca flour and 15 g each of rice flour and sorghum flour, with 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp fruit pectin.

4) Combine the toasted crumbs and the flour blend in a bowl and add 1 beaten egg and a few splashes of milk, just enough to form a (just to warn you: somewhat unappetising) soft, doughy mass. I don't give an exact measurement because that will depend on the absorbency of your bread and flour blend. Add salt, pepper, and herbs such as parsley or sage to taste, and allow the mixture to soak for 20-30 minutes.

Dough will look like this.
(It gets better, I promise!)
Meanwhile, sauté an assortment of mushrooms and a sliced shallot in 1/2 T butter (if you plan to serve the dumplings on a plate rather than in soup). You can now either make mushroom gravy to pour over the dumplings, or simply set the mixture aside to serve with the dumplings as above. Next bring a pot of water, broth, or soup to a boil. If using water, a teaspoon of cider vinegar in the water will help the dumplings hold together.

5) Dip your hands in cold water and form a ball with some of the batter. Using a ladle, lower the ball into the boiling liquid. Repeat this until all the dough is in the pot. Keep it at a boil and partly cover. Cooking time will depend on the size of the dumplings, but will be around 10-15 minutes. They will be firm when they are done.

6) If you are serving them in soup, you're done! Serve them up and enjoy!

Otherwise, remove the dumplings to a plate and heat 1 T butter (yes, more butter) in a skillet. If desired, slice the dumplings into 3 or 4 pieces; otherwise, just put the whole dumplings in the pan and fry until lightly browned. Serve with vegetables and gravy, if using.


  1. Comfort food indeed! This sounds fantastic.

  2. Thank you! They are really quite easy to make as well - adding to the comfort factor I suppose!