This is one of those traditional Czech dishes that take some effort and expertise to perfect. My father came over this weekend and finally agreed to walk me through making the dumplings. I have seen a lot of recipes on the Internet all of which may or may not work. The following recipe is from my family. Kudos to Crystal for encouraging me to visit with my dad. Note that regular flour will not work. It is too fine and will not cook correctly in the water.
- 2 13.5 oz cans Wondra Instant Flour or Robin Hood Best for Blending Flour. It is also known as instantized flour.
- 6 oz milk
- ¾ tablespoon wet, compressed yeast (baker’s yeast)
- ¼ heaping teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cubed, dried French bread
- 2 eggs
NOTE: The yeast measurement is kind of iffy. My dad says about ½ of a 2 ounce cube that you usually find at the store. They buy yeast in ½ pound bricks. Anyway, the measurement I give is about what I remember using.
In a large bowl dump an entire package of flour. In the middle of this pile create a little boat (like a gravy boat in mashed potatoes) and crumble into it the yeast. Sprinkle the salt into the flour. Warm the milk and add half of it into the boat and let everything sit for about 10 minutes. We are waiting for the yeast to melt and start activating. As far as the warmness of the milk is, it felt almost hot.
After we wait for the yeast to soften and melt, we add the two eggs and the rest of the milk into the mixture. After a couple stirs the mixture will start to goo; add the cubed French bread.
Now work the mixture into a dough using a wooden spoon. Sprinkle a little flour from the second container every so often. You will continue mixing and adding until using a spoon will become unpractical and switch to using your hands. This is where we start to knead the dough. Eventually the ball of dough will only be very slightly sticky (some recipes will say no longer sticky). This process took us about 10-15 minutes.
Toss the dough into a ball and then cover it with a cheese cloth. Place on the range and turn on the hood light. If you don’t have a light turn on the oven to 350°, preheat, and then turn it off. What we’re doing with this is creating a little bit of heat to encourage the dough to rise.
Let the dough rise for about an hour. Cut the dough in half and place one of the halves aside. Now work one half into an elongated loaf. Quickly rub a minimal amount of warm water on the loaf as a glue to seal up the cracks and holes in the dough. Once you’ve worked the loaf to where it’s the right loaf shape and the cracks are not deep, sprinkle some flour on your work surface and work the loaf into a smooth and even shape. Repeat for the other half.
In a large pot bring a couple quarts of water to boil. Add some salt to it. When the water is boiling add the loaves to the water and boil for about 20 minutes. Nearing the end of the boil check, using a wooden chopstick, to see if the center is cooked by poking the dumpling loaf. If it comes out without anything stuck to it, the cooking is done. Remove one loaf and immediately cut it in half. Remember, all cutting is done with a thread because a knife will simply crush the loaf.
If after cutting in half there happens to still be some rawness in the middle, place the quarters back into the boiling water and boil for another 2-5 minutes. Use a large wooden spoon or similar and a cutting board or something wide to lift the dumplings out of the water.
You need to cut anything you remove from the boiling water in half right away. Not allowing the steam to escape will cause the dumpling to become mushy inside. Continue cutting the dumpling into one inch slices and place on a serving platter or place into a container.
If you want to store them, place the sliced dumplings into a container and wait until they have cooled and then cover and place into the refrigerator. To reheat you can steam them or microwave them by placing a wet paper towel over them and microwaving them for twenty seconds adding five second increments until they are hot.
You may freeze dumplings like bread but make sure it’s already sliced. I’m not sure how long it’d keep but it can’t be very long.
Czech dumplings are fantastic with gravies, sauerkraut and drippings from roasts, or chopped up and served as an omelet with a few eggs.
UPDATE: I just made these again and they turned out fantastic. My only complaint is that it is very hard to find baker’s yeast. The yield of this recipe is enough dumplings to feed 6 people about 4 dumplings each with a few left over.