Polish cherry dumplings for WTSIM

by Jeanne on June 30, 2007

in Dessert, Events - Waiter, there's something in my..., Recipes - fruit, Recipes - vegetarian

20070621_wtsimcherrydumplings2 If you say the word “dumpling” to a room full of people, I can bet you that no two will think of the same dish.  It’s just one of those dishes that can manifest itself in so many ways that no two people’s old favourite family dumplings or local specialities will ever be the same.  Except for one small problem:  my family was never big on dumplings!  I think I remember one occasion where my mom made souskluitjies (traditional South African cinnamon dumplings), whcih I didn’t much care for in my youth, and that aside I have no other warm fuzzy family dumpling recipes.  As I have got older, I have warmed to dumplings.  I make and adore my own souskluitjies.  I have discovered that dumplings are heavenly in stews or on fruit puddings; and that they are even better Chinese-style as dim sum.  But then for this month’s WTSIM event, host Johanna threw me a curve ball.  Filled dumplings.  Yes, of course I could try my hand at dim sum, but I have been too madly busy at work getting ready for my holiday to want to engage in a fiddly dim sum session.  Plus there is nothing linking me or my culinary history in any way to dim sum!  And much as the idea of fruity dumplings appeal, surely they would be to heavy and stodgy in the middle of summer?  What to do, what to do…

As I was trawling the web for inspiration, I came across a recipe for Polish cherry dunplings.  Hmmm.  An idea began to take root.  You see, my father did rather a lot of family reasarch a decade or so ago, to try and find out who the first member of our family was who came to South Africa.  As it turns out, Jan Andries Horak had first set foot on Cape soil in 1745, in the employ of the Dutch East India Company.  There he married (four times!), fathered children and laid the foundations of my family in Africa.  From there, the records were relatively easy to trace and my father has a family tree showing each generation from my little nephews back to this founding father.  But what interested me more (and my father not at all) was where our family is from in Europe.  Although the surname is decidedly Czech, according to my dad’s research, Jan was born in Altdam, Hanover – but I could find no modern references to a place called Altdam.  However, some digging on the net revealed that Altdam on the north coast of the Prussian empire and until, 1945 it was part of the German city of Stettin.  However, after the war when boundaries were re-drawn, the city ended up as being part of Poland and is now known as Szczecin.  The closest approximation of Altdam in modern terms is Dabie, a municipal neighbourhood of Szczecin.

So… in a very roundabout way, I can make a case for a Polish connection to my family.  So when I saw a recipe for knedle wisniowe (cherry dumplings), I must have sensed a subconscious atavistic yearning for the cuisine of my forefathers (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!!).  And in any event, I have always adored cherries as their arrival means summer really has come :)

I got this recipe from Starchefs.com  and I have to say that I am not convinced of the fluid/solid ratio of the batter.  OK, that said, I may have screwed things up a little by a) being too lazy to take out my mixer and resorting to melting the butter to mix with the egg yolks and breadcrumbs; and b) using a coffee mug as a cup measure for milk because the measuring jug was in the fridge, full of something.  I suspect that these two little lapses of judgement meant that there was too much liquid.  By the time I got to the bit of the recipe where you “form tiny dumplings” with the dough, my dough was more like crazy glue and absolutely not interested in holding any sort of shape, unless you consider impersonating an amoeba a shape.  So there I was, adding more flour in desperation, knowing that this would probably throw out all the other ingredient ratios but dammit, I had to get something made for WTSIM, even if it had to be the Cherry Dumplings of Doom.  Or maybe I just don’t make dumplings often enough to know what the right consistency is.  Either way, I’d already got to the stage of a recipe when you realise there’s no going back – ingredients have already been sacrificed…

Anyway, what I’m trying to tell you is that if you follow the recipe below, expect the dough 20070621_wtsimintactdumpling_2   to be sticky and tricky to handle – if anybody has suggestions as to how to improve this, I’d welcome them.  My solution was to swear a lot and coat my hands copiously in flour while juggling the sticky dough from hand to hand and trying to persuade it to wrap around a cherry.  It’s all just non-stop glamour here at chez Cooksister.  Against this backdrop, I have to say that I fully expected them to be awful – I have no idea what they were meant to look like (mine just looked… erm… rough-textured and doughy) and had every expectation that my panic-adding of flour had not helped.  But despite the technical difficulties of getting them into the pot intact, they turned out to be delicious! Maybe a little stodgy, but with a lovely juicy cherry in the centre to lighten things up, and not too sweet.  Even notoriously dessert-shy Nick loved them.  Smacznego!

CHERRY DUMPLINGS (Knedle wisniowe) – makes 10-12 dumplings

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp bread crumbs
3 Tbsp butter (not melted!)
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk
1-1.5 cups flour (add until the dough is manageable)
Salt to taste (I used salted butter and omitted the salt)
250g Morello cherries (I used Summit)
4 Tbsp melted butter
4 Tbsp light brown sugar

METHOD:

Pit the cherries.

Combine bread crumbs, butter (softened but not melted), egg yolks and milk to form a paste. Mix in flour and salt, adding flour until the dough can be handled.

Shape into tiny dumplings, and insert 2 cherry halves into center of each. Drop 4 at a time into a deep pot of boiling water, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they rise to the top.

Remove with a slotted spoon, drain and serve warm, topped with melted butter and sugar.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

johanna June 30, 2007 at 5:52 pm

mmh! how nice is that? love the history behind it and i think a trip to poland is of order!
i have the same with my dumpling doughs – they’re either quite sticky or don’t get fluffy enough. my tip is to not add any flour (i know how great the temptation is) but to assemble roll them in slightly moist hands – that keeps the dough from sticking to your fingers.
that said, there’s nothing wrong with half of the batter ending up in your tummy while you cook!

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Robert June 30, 2007 at 10:09 pm

Whatever the trials you had making them the pics look very tempting indeed.
I was actually chatting with one of my Polish housemates today about all the types of dumpling they get in Poland – seems they have taken this particular culinary item very much to heart with a rather dizzying array of sweet and savoury variations on offer.
I do not know if sweet dumplings chemistry is the same as gnocchi, but there the more flour you add, the more rubbery the final result is. The objective is always to use the minimum amount of flour possible to bind the mix.

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adelyn July 1, 2007 at 12:29 am

oh wow, that looks so good!
btw, i lived in south africa for a while and got really addicted to this type of egg-custard tart there whose name i forgot! it’s really common and is amazing – not very sweet but very addictive. can you help me remember?

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Jyotsna July 1, 2007 at 5:45 am

Love the story of of the Polish connection and the cherry dumpling looks sticky but yummy.Its ages since I made any sort of dumpling and this post is pretty inspirational.I think I’ll start with the Ladakhi momo.

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Gill July 1, 2007 at 2:42 pm

You have the most amazing way of making cooking sound fun! It’s not often I chuckle while reading a recipe, but today I did :-)
Those dumplings sound amazing might just try them and being a South African who has never made a souskluitjie in her life, I think I might give those a bash too.

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Pille July 2, 2007 at 9:32 am

I agree, it must have been ‘a subconscious atavistic yearning for the cuisine of my forefathers’ – sounds good & believable to me:)
Great dumplings. I made Ukrainian curd cheese dumplings, but wasn’t happy with the water/flour ratio in the dough either, so much keep trying..

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neil July 11, 2007 at 12:02 am

Love your Polish connection! The border with Germany has always been a bit rubbery, moving backwards and forwards over the centuries, there was even a time not so long ago, when Poland didn’t exist at all. If I hadn’t been painting, I was going to enter pierogies for the dumpling, filled with blueberries or raspberries, so our thinking wasn’t too far apart. I’m pleased you used morello cherries, that is the authentic Polish touch. Na zdrowie!

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Jeanne July 19, 2007 at 5:26 pm

Johanna,
Hmmm, trip to Poland sounds grand – and Dabie seems to be in a nice area. And hey, I didn’t tell you – the Szczecin rowing team was at Henley on Finals day! Thanks for the tip re. wet hands. At some level I knew that adding flour was probably not the way forward, bt I also knew I had to get these babies made somehow and that seemed to be the only solution. They weren’t exactly fluffy, but I expect practice will make perfect!
Robert,
Yup, Eastern Europe in general seems to have cornered the market in dumplings as a basic food group… And thanks for the flour tip – as I said above, I knew that more flour was probably not the way forward, but I was rushed and a little panicky and it seemed like the only option at the time. Nest time I’ll know better…
Adelyn,
Thanks for stopping by and glad you liked the dumplings. The tart you are thinking of is melktert (milk tart) – a baked custard tart with cinnamon and one of the mainstays of all South African bakesales :)
Jyontsna,
Glad you liked my little family history lesson :) The dumplings actually weren’t that sticky, but when you drizzle them with butter and sugar this adds stickiness. They were a little heavier than I would have liked but very tasty.
Gill,
Gasp – never made a souskluitjie?? Don’t worry – I’ve never made a koeksuster!! Although soon I think I may have to for purely scientific purposes :P Glad you liked the post and found it amusing – I certainly wasn’t laughing at the time but thinking back to the crazy-glue dough and the cursing now, it would have been pretty hilarious to an observer!
Pille,
Atavistic yearning – that’s my story and I’m sticking with it ;-) And I must say I get the distinct feeling that dumplings are something that you need to practise a few times to get just right – just think of the fun you can have practising!
Neil,
Glad you liked my attempt at massacring the Polish culinary tradition with too much flour :o). Seriously though, these dumplings have opened my eyes to the possibilities of fruit dumplings and I definitely foresee a couple more in my future this summer.

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Tom July 30, 2008 at 9:27 pm

Hi!
I am from Poland and I came across your blog just today. This is a strange recipe for knedle wisniowe because the term knedle is reserved solely for dumplings that are made from potato dough. Knedle can be stuffed with cherries but if you hear somebody saying knedle in Poland s/he will surely mean the ones stuffed with plums, a particular small variety that is made into plum jams. This special kind of jam is made with no sugar added because the plums are harvested very late when they are almost sun-dried and all sugar. The taste is like jam made from smoked prunes. Knedle is served with sour cream and sugar. The kind of dough that features in your recipe is only used to make sweet pierogies that are usually stuffed with cherries, strawberries and most frequently with blueberries.

Reply

Tom July 30, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Hi!
I am from Poland and I came across your blog just today. This is a strange recipe for knedle wisniowe because the term knedle is reserved solely for dumplings that are made from potato dough. Knedle can be stuffed with cherries but if you hear somebody saying knedle in Poland s/he will surely mean the ones stuffed with plums, a particular small variety that is made into plum jams. This special kind of jam is made with no sugar added because the plums are harvested very late when they are almost sun-dried and all sugar. The taste is like jam made from smoked prunes. Knedle is served with sour cream and sugar. The kind of dough that features in your recipe is only used to make sweet pierogies that are usually stuffed with cherries, strawberries and most frequently with blueberries.

Reply

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