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Austrian Bread Dumplings 101

Semmelknôdel (Austrian Bread Dumpling) was one of my favorite foods growing up in Austria. I have wanted to make a tutorial of sorts for Americans (like myself) to make this wonderful food even though you are not in Austria to enjoy them.  If you love stuffing (dressing) you probably will like this.  They are dumplings made of bread, egg, milk, flour, and regionally also includes cooked bacon.  The region of Tyrol in Austria uses bacon in them.  They call them Speckknôdel.  In this blog post I will have step by step instructions.  If you do not want bacon in them, just leave it out (but why would you?)

To start off, use a stale baguette – you know.. it was sitting on your counter a few days too long but is not completely dried out yet, you still can cut it into cubes with the centers of the cubes slightly soft but pretty dry on the outside.  I also made them with Ciabatta bread with success.  Semmel in Austria is like a Kaiser roll.  Except here in the States, Kaiser rolls are often soft and not the crisp texture that they have in Austria, so I found that a French Baguette does the job perfectly!

Cut the 3 days old French Baguette into 1/2 inch cubes and place the cubes in a large bowl.

Add 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

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Cube 8 ounces of bacon and fry them in a non stick skillet until crisped up.  Remove the cooked bacon with a slotted spoon and place the bacon bits on a paper towel to drain.

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Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from the skillet.  Saute 1/2 cup chopped onions over medium heat until cooked and lightly browned.  Add the cooked onions, cooked bacon, and 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour to the bread cubes in the bowl.

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Mix the bread cubes, bacon bits, onion, parsley, flour by hand to combine.

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Pour 3/4 cup (6 oz) of cold milk into a measuring cup.

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Add two large eggs to the milk.

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Whisk the egg and milk mixture until well combined.

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Pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread cubes mixture in the large bowl.  Begin to combine it by hand (my cheapest kitchen tool), tossing the mixture until it takes on the liquid.  Your hands do get a bit messy, but cleans up with soap and water! 🙂

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Form the dumplings into snow ball sized balls.

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You want the breadcrumb mixture to be quite sticky.. flour sticking to your hands.  If you press on the dumpling with your finger and it falls apart, it is not sticky enough… see?

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Sprinkle a few tablespoons of flour over the bread mixture if it does not hold together well.  I added about 3 tablespoons of flour and combined it with my hands again.  This time it was quite sticky!  Perfect!

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Once again I formed them into balls and this time they stuck together nicely.  You don’t want to squeeze them to death, but you do want nice firm dumplings that hold together nicely.

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The dumplings should be about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

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I formed 6 dumplings.

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Fill a large stockpot with 3 inches of cold water and place over a burner over high heat to bring it to a simmer.

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When the water begins to simmer (bubbles are starting to come up from the bottom, but it is not at a full boil). Add 1 tablespoon of salt.

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Carefully lower the dumplings into the salted, simmering water and reduce the heat to medium high, keeping it at a simmer, do not let it boil.  Set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes.

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After 15 minutes the dumplings will have softened up a bit but still hold their shape

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Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl.

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Serve with a meaty gravy like Rahmschnitzel

or Beef Rouladen or Wolfgang Pucks Beef Goulash with Red Cabbage.

Trouble Shooting:

Help me.. they fell apart!!! Well, not all is lost,  you can make Serviettenknôdel- loosley translated “napkin dumplings”. (if they fall apart, they did not have enough flour added to the mixture and were not sticky enough, but there is hope.. you can scoop the dumplings that have fallen apart out with a slotted spoon and place the bread mixture into a clean kitchen towel (you can also use foil).  Form the bread into a log and wrap the bread mixture tightly in the kitchen towel.  Tie off the ends of the towel and place it in the simmering water.  Cook 15 minutes.  Unwrap and slice into 1/2 inch slices.  Serve.)

My favorite way to use up leftovers .. if you are lucky enough to have leftovers:

Cut the cold dumplings into slices and then melt about half a tablespoon of butter in a non stick skillet… fry the bread dumplings turning over from time to time until golden brown.  Add an egg to the skillet,  season with salt and pepper and cook as you desire.  Yum: Breakfast is served!  This is called Knôdel mit Spiegelei (Dumpling with sunny side egg)

IMG_3048I blogged this dish already, but some time ago: https://goodcookbecky.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/semmelknodel-austrian-bread-dumplings-with-bacon/

 

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