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Plum Dumplin’

September 17, 2009

Plums are one of those fruits that make me nostalgic.

Well, the last time I was in Germany, I stayed in Munich for a month (I might have mentioned just once or twice, I’ve studied German, been to Germany and Austria, love German food, etc). Watching the US Open in the middle of the night, visiting art musuems, drinking in beer gardens, shopping… no plans, just living the life. The Frau I stayed with had the tiniest yard but had an apple tree, cherry tree, and plum tree. When I first arrived in late July, I could put my arm out the window and grab a fresh apple. But my last week there, in early September, the plums started coming in. One day the Frau knocked on my door with a big bowl in her hand. There must have been more than 50 itty-bitty plums in there. And I am ashamed to admit that I let a few of them go to waste, though I think eating 50 Zwetschgen in the space of three days is quite a feat. And of course all of Bavaria goes nuts over these things, eating them out of hand and baking them into Zwetschgenkuchen (plum cake) and stewing them.

So I think you’ll understand why, when I saw a display of them at the store yesterday, I got a little carried away. I just kept putting handfuls in a bag until I realized… I better come up with a plan for these.

In honor of the end of summer and the beginning of Oktoberfest (the world’s second largest one kicks off here this weekend!), I present you with Zwetschgenknödel. Plum dumplings. It sounds kind of Asian, doesn’t it? And you steam them too. Granted this probably isn’t a weeknight sort of meal, but hey it’s Thursday and do you need an excuse? Crack open a hoppy beer to balance out the sweetness of these yummy treasures. I even did the hard work for you, scouring German websites and converting the measurements. Funny enough, I found a perfect recipe already in English. Bah!

(Zwetschgen are called Italian prune plums in America. I think in the UK you can use Damson plums but you will need to definitely make sure you use a lot of sugar as Damsons are rather tart. The idea is to use small, freestone plums.)

Zwetschgenknödel (Plum Dumplings)

Source: Delicious Days

Prep time: 45 minutes Cooking time: at least an hour

Ingredients (yields about 12 dumplings):

1.5 envelopes (10.5g) of dry active yeast

125ml lukewarm milk (1/2 cup)

250g all-purpose flour  (2 1/4 cup)

a pinch of salt

3 tbsp sugar

1 egg yolk

25g melted butter (2 tbsp or 1 oz) but not too hot!

about 12 pitted Zwetschgen (plums)

about 12 sugar cubes/extra cinnamon or vanilla sugar (for the filling & to serve) (I used plain sugar mixed with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg)


  1. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a ‘volcano’. Carefully pour the milk into the crater and sprinkle the yeast into the milk. Cover with a towel and leave for 15 minutes. It should be bubbly in the middle when you come back to it and your kitchen should begin to smell like a brewery. knoedel 031
  2. Add the sugar, egg yolk, butter, salt, and sugar. Stir, then knead with your hands or a bread hook attachment if you are high-falutin’ enough to have a stand mixer (though if you do, I highly doubt you’d be looking here for advice). It’s done when the dough stops sticking to the bowl. If it’s sticky, add a dash more flour. Cover and let rest again in a warm place for at least 30 mins (I waited 40 mins and the world didn’t end).
  3. Meanwhile, wash & slice the plums halfway so you can jimmy the pit out without completely breaking the plums in half.

knoedel 024

  1. Prepare your steamer: Get a big pot with a lid and fill it 1/4 of the way with water. Place your steamer on top  (I got kinda crazy and put a colander in a big pot).
  2. After your dough has had its little time-out, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it out into a circle. Cut, tear, slice into 12 parts.
  3. Put your sugar into the middle of a plum, then wrap the dough around the plum. Roll it in your hand to make sure the plum is completely & rather evenly covered. (I would highly, highly suggest you make each batch of dumplings while the previous batch is cooking. Gravity makes them lose their shape if you let them sit too long, and the juices from the sugar start to leak out.)knoedel 046
  4. Bring the water in your pot to a boil. Place a few dumplings – give them breathing room – into the steamer. Cover with the lid.
  5. knoedel 066

  6. Steam for 15-20 mins. Resist the urge to peek while they are cooking, and keep the heat up hiiiiigh. Remove carefully and let cool before you handle them. (I burnt my fingertips several times while handling them. And the plum juices are hot too!)
  7. Roll in extra cinnamon sugar or brush a little butter on them, and serve!

There you have it… soft little pillows of dough with a tart and sweet plum treasure inside! A totally impractical thing to make on a weeknight unless you don’t mind eating at 11pm.

Mahlzeit! Guten Appetit... und Prost!

Mahlzeit! Guten Appetit... und Prost!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Maz permalink*
    September 18, 2009 12:59

    Oh man, plums. I was in my aunts house in Czech Rep and she got a basket of plums from a neighbour and they were so yummy. The tiny little flies flying around the fruit bowl were not.
    I’m so trying this out when I get some plums. I like the snack-iness of it [yes I just made up a word].

    • Kristen permalink*
      September 18, 2009 13:27

      I am going to warn you that they are rather labor intensive, mostly because you can’t steam more than 2-3 at a time unless you have a big steamer or don’t mind them sticking together (and then you have to be careful when you take them out so they don’t break apart). Also the water definitely has to be at a full boil, and you have to add more so you don’t dry-boil the pot!
      But they were soooo delish when they were done!! I’m sure if I make them again it will be easier!!

      • Maz permalink*
        September 18, 2009 15:48

        Eek! It’s not the labour intensive part of it that’s putting me off but the full boil part! I’ve been burnt so many times by steam! Guess I’ll just wait until I build up some courage…

        • Kristen permalink*
          September 18, 2009 21:39

          I hear ya, I always manage to burn myself somehow. I even burnt myself ironing clothes the other day.

          I think the trick is to keep your body as far away from the steam as possible, which sounds so obvious but I always forget!! Like, keep your arm protected by wearing a mitt & using a spatula to poke at the things in the steamer. I made these again today and I am proud to say I did not burn myself once!! You can do it! And they are soooo delicious.

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