Plum Dumplings with Cinnamon Breadcrumb Butter – Swabian Zwetschgenknödel
by eat in my kitchen
Plums, potato dough, browned breadcrumb butter, sugar and cinnamon – this southern German sweet doesn’t call for many ingredients but it puts them together in just the right way. The result is heavenly: sweet plum dumplings with browned breadcrumb butter and cinnamon sugar – or in German – Zwetschgenknödel!
My versatile Gnocchi dough makes another appearance for this recipe. For Friday’s Bavarian beer roasted pork, I recommended savory potato dumplings with the same dough. For this traditional Swabian dish, I use it to wrap sweet and sour plums with a thin layer of the potato mixture to turn the blue fruits into sweet, fruity dumplings.
Whenever I make this recipe, I consider reducing the amount of butter and sugar for just a split second, but luckily I never do. This dish really needs all the lusciousness of its decadent topping. I learnt about these dumplings from my Swabian step father Uli and he taught me that a dessert is there to enjoy and not about counting calories. Every time we make the Knödel together in my mother’s kitchen, he reminds us to keep the potato dough layer very thin, that’s how he learnt to do it from his mother and grandmother. It’s our job to form the dumplings but it’s his to take care of the quality control, and he is a very picky instructor!
It can be a bit fiddly getting the little balls in shape, to make it a little bit easier you should use small plums like Damsons and keep your fingers moist while you’re working with the dough.
Plum Dumplings with cinnamony Breadcrumb Butter – the Swabian Zwetschgenknoedel
For about 30 plum dumplings you need
small plums (like Damsons) 30 (about 800g / 2 pounds)
sugar cubes 30
Cut the plums open on one side, take out the seed and fill each fruit with a sugar cube, close the fruit as well as possible.
For the topping
butter 100g / 3.5 ounces
breadcrumbs 50g / 2 ounces
sugar 50g / 2 ounces
cinnamon 1 teaspoon
Combine the sugar and cinnamon.
In a sauce pan, melt the butter with the breadcrumbs. Cook the mixture for a few minutes on medium-high temperature until golden brown. Don’t let it burn or it will taste bitter.
For the potato dough
potatoes, cut into cubes, 450g / 16 ounces
butter 30g / 1 ounce
organic egg yolks 2
plain flour 120g / 4.5 ounces
salt 1/2 teaspoons
Cook the the potatoes in salted water until soft (around 15 minutes), drain them when they are done. Press the drained, warm potatoes through a potato ricer and mix immediately with the butter and egg yolks. Let the mixture cool completely before you continue with the next step!
With a spoon (or your hands), mix the cold potato mixture with the flour and salt until combined.
The plum dumplings
Your fingers should be wet while you’re forming the dumplings, so keep a little bowl of water right next to you.
In a large pot, bring lots of water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the boil.
With a tablespoon, take a walnut sized ball of the potato dough. Shape a flat ball and lay it flat in the palm of your moistened hand, pushing down the middle with the thumb of your other hand. Lay the plum (cut side down) into the center of the dough and gently start pushing and rolling up the dough until the whole fruit is covered with a thin layer (the blue of the plums will be just visible in some places, see my second to last picture). If the dough starts tearing, take a little bit more to cover the fruits. Place the dumplings on a grid until you’re done with all of them (when you take the dumplings off the grid you might have to even out the grid’s mark with your fingers).
Cook the dumplings in batches in the hot but not boiling water (simmering) for about 8-10 minutes or until they start to float on the surface. Take the dumplings out with a slotted ladle and let them drain on a grid for a few seconds.
Put the cooked dumplings into a large bowl or onto a plate, pour over the warm browned breadcrumb butter and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top.