Don’t get me wrong, I do like surprises – quite often more with food than on birthdays. Case in point? Take Marillenknödel, a traditional pastry dessert in Bohemia, Moravia, and parts of Austria. Marillenknödel is a softball-sized dessert sphere that contains a sweet surprise — a warm fruit filling living in the doughy den of the dumpling, or knödel. One can gently cut through the powdered sugar shell to let the filling ooze out onto the plate, dyeing the whipped cream and the diner’s lips in the process. Marillenknödel itself is filled with apricots or plums and is quite a joy to make. For a more extravagant experience, take heed: Vienna stepped up it’s knödel game by offering Eismarillenknödel, where the dumpling dough is made from ice cream and crusted in nuts and streusel that insulates the apricot fruit filling. Hungry yet? I am.
With strawberry season in full swing here in Prague I wanted to take on something sweet of this Central European variety. When the husband and I belonged to a cooking club back in Connecticut years ago he had prepared a strawberry dumpling, or Erdbeerknödel, that drew on his Austo-Hungarian roots and to no surprise, it was a showstopper; it was authentic. He had created his dumplings just like his great-grandmother – forming then bobbing them in boiling water before a snow shower of powdered sugar only to carousel back again to the pot to repeat. Cup, plunk, splash. Whoosh, plate, taste.
- 3 heaping cups strawberries, washed and halved
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp butter (unsalted)
- 2 cups AP flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cold butter (unsalted)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- (Bake: 8" cake dish)
- Preheat oven to 425 F (215 C) and center baking rack in the middle of the oven
- Wash and halve strawberries and place in buttered and floured baking dish. Add pads of butter and top with sugar. Roast for 12-15 minutes. While strawberries are roasting, prepare the dumpling dough.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, powder, sugar, salt and sugar. Whisk. Make a hole in the center and pour buttermilk and combine with a wooden spoon. (Make your own buttermilk by 1 cup milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice or 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, let rest for 10 minutes at room temperature before using whilst curdling)
- Pull the strawberries carefully from the oven and dollop the dough to form dumplings. Return to oven and bake until golden brown - about 12-15 minutes
- Remove and let cool before serving. Add whipped cream to serve! Best served warm and on the same day
- Be sure to serve with fresh whipped cream!