Saturday, January 8, 2011

Czech Recipe: Bread Dumplings (Houskové Knedlíky)

One of the cornerstones of Czech cooking is dumplings - bread dumplings, yeasted dumplings, potato dumplings, fruit dumplings, dumplings with bacon, and on and on. So it seemed natural that my descent into Czech cooking begin with this mass of flour and carbohydrates. Most families here don't make dumplings anymore, as they are quite cheap to buy mass-produced ones in the shops. Some have told me they buy them from their local pub, which makes them from scratch. When I confessed my upcoming dumpling adventure to some, the men seemed impressed (thought I was being a good wifey to the Czech hubs), and the women said they remember making them with their mums years ago and I should definitely give it a shot.

Making dumplings is a great way to get over that after-work slump of forgoing the dinner plans and diving into a bag of microwave popcorn (I fully admit to having done this), because even though it takes awhile, it's pretty easy, and I felt like a kid in science class watching an experiment! These two dough logs blow up and get all slimy in a big pot of boiling water. Don't worry, the slime subsides by the time they're ready to eat :)

Eat with Czech Goulash
Continue to Recipe...
Bread Dumplings
Time 1 hr 20 min
Serves 6

2 stale bread rolls
2 - 3 Tb butter
3 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup (250 ml) water or milk

1) Cube the rolls into small squares and fry in the butter until a bit browned and crispy.
2) In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the already-whisked egg and liquid. Stir with a big wooden spoon, and use your hands to help. Add more flour if necessary. Should still be a little sticky. Add the bread roll pieces until mixed/mashed throughout the dough.
3) Split into two logs, cover and let sit for 25 - 35 minutes, and get a big (5 liters or more) pot of water boiling.
4) Slip both logs into the water, cover, and let boil away for 35 minutes. This will look really cool!
5) Scoop out, let cool just a little, and slice with thread. Yes - thread. While its cooking dig out a spool of whatever color you fancy, and wrap around your fingers like dental floss (maybe one could use floss too), and slice into 1 cm thick slices.
6) Eat with your favourite Czech meat 'n sauce combo (recipes to come soon!)

What about you? Have you ever made dumplings? Does this method sound about right? Would you be willing to try to make this, or does it sound like too much work? Suggestions/improvements/experiences are welcome :)

Dobrou Chut'/ Enjoy!
-- Jo


  1. I can comment I can comment I can comment :)

    Looks great, Jo! Well... Maybe I should say it looks like as it is supposed to :) Im not sure what dumplings look like for people who'd never seen them before and I doubt "great" is the right adjective :) But looks good for me! I'll try this out, thanks for inspiration ;)

  2. your dad wants to try this one

  3. Sweety, have you considered sharing any starters with us? :) I'd really love that!!! Or just some little things you can offer to your guests or something like that :)

  4. Hi Barbara - thanks for figuring out the commenting! I'm glad the dumplings look like, um, dumplings to you :) I'm thinking of posting a selection of my favourite starters/finger food soon...which is more international style than Czech. I don't know many Czech snacks for entertaining out of the pub. I'll let ya know when there is an appetizer taste-test, as I will be needing some eaters!

  5. Hi Josie - These look like the dumplings my Czech grandma used to make. Her recipe was 2 slices of bread, 1/4 package yeast dissolved in water, 2 eggs, salt, 1/2 c milk, 3 c flour. She shaped them into balls rather than logs. And yes, sliced them with string. They were always served with simmered beef in a tomato "gravy". I miss my grandma.

  6. Vicki, that's interesting that she shaped it into balls. I haven't seen that here in Czechland. I bet your Czech grandma was happy to whip up dumplings and, what I think you're talking about, 'rajska' (tomato gravy).

  7. I made bread roll dumplings before but I made them with yeast. Never heard of ones with baking powder but when I googled czech websites I found some. I usually make yeast dumplings without bread and serve it with pork sauerkraut goulash (segedin goulash)

  8. Hi Mira, I really debated about yeast/baking powder. It seems when I looked at more Czech recipes the yeasted ones were without breadrolls, and baking powder with - so I went that way. And I know the segedin goulash! Although, I don't care for it nearly as much as the original, which I can't get enough of - even after 4+ years here!

  9. Hello Josie, thank you for helping me solve a family mystery. I learned to make this dumpling recipe from my German grandmother in Argentina, and as a result I always thought the recipe came from Germany. Because we simply knew it as “pan” (the Spanish word for bread) we could never figure out its true origins, until I came across your blog. All the best! Mercedes


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