living large, lean food budget, comfort food, memories
German Hefekloesse – Yeast Dumplings
When I think of the various German meals my mother made when I was growing up, the only words that come to mind are ‘comfort food’.
It seemed there was no end to the ways in which bread or just dough in general could be used. Dumplings are a favorite food throughout Germany. The ingredients will vary depending on the type of dumpling. Most often they are shaped in a ball, then boiled or steamed in salt water. Dumplings can be served as a main meal, side dish, part of a soup or served sweet for dessert. Then, of course, there are the varieties with fillings such as cheese, fruit or meats.
There is no one way to define German cooking. Each region in Germany has its own specialties and variations. This is usually based on the foods available locally.
My mother cooked a wonderful mix of both German and Canadian meals. Although my parents were Canadian born, their parents had come to Canada from Germany/Russia. That knowledge of German cooking had been passed down to my mother and has left lasting memories for us siblings.
This particular meal of ‘HEFEKLOESSE’ was a meal my mother would usually make on a day when she was doing her weekly bread baking. It was served with fried potatoes and onions and a side dish of some of her stewed plums. Of course, at the time it was just another one of those fabulous ‘ comfort food’ meals that we all took for granted. Now all these years later, trying to recreate that taste is near impossible.
Every once in a while I get the courage to give it a try again and usually I rate my effort as good but not quite like mom’s.
Along with our dumplings and stewed plums I served some turkey kielbasa which rounded out the meal nicely.
In a small bowl, pour lukewarm water; sprinkle with sugar & yeast. Place in a warm, draft-free spot & allow to stand 2-3 minutes. Stir to dissolve; leave 5 more minutes or until mixture almost doubles in size. In a large bowl, whisk together beaten egg, margarine, milk, salt & yeast mixture.
Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix until well combined; turn out on a floured surface, kneading for about 10 minutes. When dough is smooth & elastic, place in a greased bowl; cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel.
Allow to rise for about 1 hour or until dough doubles in size. Punch down & knead for about 3-4 minutes. Pinch off pieces of dough; shape into 24 balls about 1 1/2" in diameter. Lay dumplings on a floured board & allow to rise again until doubled in size.
In a large heavy skillet, layer potato & onion slices. Add about 2 cups of water, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt & 1 Tbsp margarine (or bacon drippings). Bring to a boil, partially cooking vegetables. Add dumplings; cover & cook about 15 minutes or until the water is completely gone. Usually you will hear a 'hissing' sound at this point. Potatoes & onions should be nicely browned.
Bring all ingredients to a very gentle boil. Reduce heat to a simmer for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool & serve.
I recall a favorite old cast iron pan being used for steaming these dumplings in. Definitely it worked much better in obtaining a brown crusty bottom on the dumplings & potatoes then I could achieve in the pan I used.