Sunday, January 17, 2010

Forget Apricot Jam... Try these divine Apricot Dumplings (Marillenknödel)

It's summertime and the young apricot tree in the far corner of the garden has again produced a splendid crop of palate tingling golden fruit.  I had been eyeing them for weeks, checking their progress, sampling the odd apricot here and there, but it was only a week ago that they were just perfect.

With too many to eat, what to do?  Usually, I would make jam with the excess, but this year I decided to dry some and make apricot dumplings i.e. Marillenknödel.

You can't get a more Austrian dish than Marillenknödel - Imagine a perfectly ripe apricot enveloped in a soft dumpling dough rolled in sugary sweet crunchy caramelised breadcrumbs.  It's the Mozartkugel of the dumpling world!  

Every summer my grandmother made these, with extra helpings of the crumb mixture, just for me, because I could have eaten the crumbs alone by the spoonful (and I did!).

Well not much has changed, only that I now have to make the dumplings myself and I still double the amount of crumbs.

It may seem a lot of effort, but believe me, once you've tasted these you'll gladly make them again.

Apricot Dumplings
Required time:  1.5 hours
     500 - 600gr Apricots
     1 Sugar cube per apricot

  Dumpling Dough 
     1kg Potatoes
     350gr Plain flour
     1 Egg
     Pinch of Salt

  Crumb Coating
     200gr Breadcrumbs
     200gr Sugar
     200gr Salt free butter

  1. Wash and dry the apricots. Remove the stone by cutting half of the apricot open along the crease and replace it with a sugar cube.
  2. Boil the potatoes in their skins until they are soft.  Drain and pour cold water over them so they cool to the touch.
  3. Peel the skins off the potatoes and press them into a large bowl using a potato press if you have one, otherwise just mash them.
  4. Add the egg, pinch of salt and sifted flour to the potatoes and mix well until a sticky dough forms.
  5. Separate the dough into two portions and on a floured workbench roll each into a short, fat roll.  Cut slices off the dough and flatten into small rounds.  Place a prepared apricot on each round and firmly seal the dough around it.
  6. Bring some water in a large cooking pot to the boil.  Whilst waiting for the water to boil, gently melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the breadcrumbs and sugar combining all ingredients well.  Stir over a medium heat until the crumbs become golden and the sugar caramelises a little - be careful not to burn the crumbs.  Remove from the heat.
  7. Gently lower the dumplings into the simmering water and cook until they rise to the top and float - this is the sign they are done.  Remove and drain the excess water then immediately roll them in the warm crumb mixture.
  8. Serve warm, on a plate with some extra crumbs sprinkled over the top and a light dusting of powdered sugar.
  9. Enjoy...


FlyingRoo said...

The Romanian version is made with Italian plums ! (the little ones, with that white-ish "dust" on their dark blue skin). They are very traditional but I've seen plum jam or apricots or apricot jam used in them too.

I remember myself as a kid helping mom in the kitchen by filling the plums with a little teaspoon of sugar and handing it to her so she can cover it with the dough - never crossed our mind to just use a little cube, that's a great tip! I also remember her saying that it's better to put less flour in the potatoes at the beginning, and add as needed, "you can always add but never take back", and "you want your dough delicate not like your shoe soles!" Aahh, the memories...

Sticky Fingers said...

Interesting, because the Austrians also make them with prune plums, then they're called Zwetschgenknödel.

My baby prune trees aren't at the stage of yielding fruit yet - hopefully in the next year or two - then I'll definitely be making Zwetschgenknödel! I've never heard of making them with jam - that's a great idea I'll have to give a go sometime in the interim.

Your mom gave the kind of cooking advice my grandmother passed on to me. Many a time, since her passing, have I wished she were still here to show me how to make the traditional recipes from my homeland. Sigh...