I have very fond memories of my Oma Gertrud making these fluffy, sweet dumplings in her kitchen. They are steamed, not baked – have a light, airy top and a crunchy, slightly salty crust on the bottom. Serve with vanilla sauce or stewed fruits, such as plums. This is a traditional recipe from the Black Forest region in Germany. Special thanks to my friend and fellow foodie Michelle Danzer-Gries for asking me about this recipe and sending me on a trip down memory lane…
1 tbsp dry yeast
2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup sugar
zest of one lemon, finely grated
6 tbsp unsalted butter, very soft
3/4 cup of warm milk
2 large eggs
Place the warm milk, 2 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp flour and yeast into the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir to combine and let it sit for 10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and work into a smooth dough (start with 2 1/2 cups of flour, but add more if needed). Dough should not stick to the sides of mixer after kneading for about 10 minutes.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in volume – about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
After initial rise, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to one inch thickness and with a 2 1/2 inch diameter glass cut out 12-14 dumplings.
Cover again while preparing the pan.
In a large pan with tight fitting lid (very important!!) melt:
3 tbsp unsalted butter; add 3/4 cup of water and 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Bring to a boil and place the dumplings on top of mixture, leave some room in between.
COVER and do NOT REMOVE cover again for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Dampfnudeln translates to “steamed noodles” – the steam that builds up in the pot allows the dough to rise and at the end of the cooking process there will be a sizzling sound in the pan. After 15 minutes, stand by the pan and listen – when there is a sound like steak hitting the grill and all the liquid is evaporated – it is safe to open the lid. Check if the characteristic golden brown crust has formed on the bottom of the dumplings. If not cover again and cook few more minutes.
Serve immediately with stewed fruit or vanilla sauce (in a pinch I use Dr. Oetker Vanille Soße from Germany).
2 cups of whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (scraped)
4 large egg yolks
In a 2-quart heavy saucepan bring 2 cups of the milk, 2 tbsp of the sugar, and the scraped vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining 2 tbsp of sugar. Slowly pour 1 cup of the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly, into the egg yolk-sugar mixture. (Do not pour the entire yolk-sugar mixture into the boiling milk mixture, as it will curdle the eggs.) Whisk in the remaining milk. Pour the milk-yolk mixture into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Do not boil.
Remove from the heat and strain the mixture through a fine wire sieve into a heat-proof bowl. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator, until ready to use. Sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days if well sealed.