Comfort food from Bavaria
Sometimes, order comfort food just hits the right spot. It simply feels good to indulge in a generous serving of carbohydrates. Dampfnudeln can be counted as one of these dishes taking the rough edges from the troubles of daily life. I remember them from childhood and I still love them, help doused in vanilla sauce.
My mother used to serve them occasionally as a sweet lunch. I think eating a sweet dish as a main course is quite unique to Southern Germany. The Austrians, for example, also have Dampfnudeln but they serve them as dessert only. Literally translated, Dampfnudeln means steamed dumplings.
Dampfnudeln are made from a sweet, rich yeast dough. Butter is an essential ingredient in this recipe, but it is used in moderation. To make my dumplings more nutritious, I used whole-wheat flour, so my carbohydrate indulgence comes with a decent amount of fibre.
When I made this recipe with a young friend, I tried to add a touch of sophistication: We made a filling of raisins, walnuts, sugar and cinnamon. The result was not bad, but it left me with an insight: Sometimes, pedestrian recipes work because they are simple. I prefer my Dampfnudeln plain – sweet, fluffy dough with plenty of vanilla sauce. They melt in your mouth and the crust at the bottom gives you just enough crunch to avoid boring.
I use real vanilla for my vanilla sauce, which makes all the difference. I think, Dampfnudeln make a good breakfast. You can prepare the dough in the evening and just steam them in the morning.
Dampfnudel with vanilla sauce Ingredients (for 7 big dumplings):
- 1 packet dry yeast
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ cup lukewarm water
- ¼ cup lukewarm milk
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 2 ¼ cup whole-wheat flour
- ½ cup cold milk
- For the vanilla sauce:
- 1 vanilla pod
- 2 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ tablespoon corn flour
- 4 egg yolks
Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in the lukewarm water. Let it stand until it starts to form bubbles. That takes around five minutes. In a bowl stir the milk, 4 tablespoons melted butter and 1 tablespoon sugar. Add the yeast mix and stir well again. Add the flour and mix everything well. You should have soft dough now, which is a bit sticky, but not too much.
Place the dough on an even surface and start kneading it. Maybe you need to add a little more flour. The dough should become elastic without sticking to your fingers. It needs about five minutes of earnest kneading to activate the gluten in the flour.
When you have a nice ball of soft dough, place it back into the bowl and cover it with a moist cloth. Let it rise for around 45 minutes in a warm place. The dough should double in size. Slightly butter a cookie sheet. Give the dough one good kneading, and then form round balls. Place them on the cookie sheet and let them rise again for around 45 minutes.
While the Dampfnudeln are rising, prepare the vanilla sauce. Slice open the vanilla pod and scrape out the black insides. Pour the milk into a saucepan. Add the sugar, the vanilla and the hull of the vanilla pod. Bring it to a boil over a medium flame, and then simmer for five minutes. The sugar should dissolve completely. Switch off the heat.
Mix the egg yolks with the corn flour. When the milk has cooled down completely, add the egg yolks. Keep stirring continuously while mixing them with the hot milk. Turn on the flame again, as low as possible and heat until you feel the sauce thicken. Don’t boil it again otherwise the egg yolks curdle.
To steam the dumplings, you need a big pan with a close fitting lid, preferably made from glass so you can see what happens. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the cold milk and dissolve the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in the milk. Bring it to a boil, and then turn the flame to low.
Gently put the dumplings into the milk. Close the pan with the lid and don’t open for at least 30 minutes. This is very important. If you open the lid too early, the dumplings will deflate. Dampfnudeln need to be soft and fluffy with a crust on the bottom.
You know they are cooked when you hear a crackling sound from the pan. That means, the liquid has evaporated and the bottom of the dumplings is frying in the butter. After 2 to 3 minutes of crackling, the Dampfnudeln are ready. Serve them immediately with the vanilla sauce. Dampfnudeln are not good to keep in the fridge.
Kornelia is a German food writer living in Goa, India, with her Italian husband and her son. She has published two cookbooks, Kornelia’s Kitchen – Mediterranean Cooking for India and Kornelia’s Kitchen 2 – Cooking for Allergies. Both have won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award. All her recipes are easy, fast and delicious – the right kind of food to keep your family healthy and happy without spending too much time in the kitchen.