Bread Dumplings (Houskový Knedlíky)
Dumplings are a common accompaniment to most of the meat-and-gravy dishes that you find in Czech cuisine. The two types of dumplings that I found most popular were houskový knedlíky (bread dumplings) and bramborové knedlíky (potato dumplings). Houskový knedlíky (pronounced hoes-kovy keh-ned-lee-kay) are like small loaves of bread and much different than some dumplings from other cuisines (like Chinese steamed dumplings, for example). They pair well with most dishes as they’re lighter than potato dumplings and great for soaking up extra gravy from goulash and other dishes.
I find the whole process of making bread at home – mixing, kneading, rising and shaping dough – a novel experience. From homemade breads, dumplings, pastries and pie crusts, I find there’s great satisfaction in making foods from scratch that you would normally pick up ready-made from the grocery store.
The following recipe is fairly simple, but, as mentioned by Czech Cookbook and other websites, the type of flour used in this recipe is very important. In North America, regular all-purpose flour is too finely milled for making knedlíky. The first time I tried making knedlíky, I followed a recipe that I found in a Czech cookbook. The result was extremely underwhelming.
So, it’s clear that courser flours, like Wondra flour in the U.S. and Robin Hood Easy Blend flour in Canada, are necessary for this recipe. Since these types of flour are sold in smaller 450g packages, I’ve adjusted and adapted the excellent recipe from Czech Cookbook to use only 400g of flour. The remaining flour can be used in the kneading process and to flour the board.
Servings: 3 dumplings
Adapted from Czech Cookbook
1 cup milk, lukewarm
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
400g Wondra flour (US) or Robin Hood Easy Blend flour (Canada)
1 tsp salt
Warm oven slightly. Either turn on interior oven lamp or set temperature to 170 degrees F. Turn off the oven when it reaches a warm temperature.
Combine milk, sugar, yeast in small bowl. Stir gently and let sit for 10 minutes. Then combine flour, salt, egg in large mixing bowl. Once 10 minutes has passed, stir milk mixture into the flour mixture.
Knead dough for 10-12 minutes with hands until the dough becomes a smooth, elastic ball that holds its shape. This can be done with one or two hands in the mixing bowl or a cutting board (or bread kneading board). Cover with a tea towel and place into the mildly warm oven. Allow the dough to rise and approximately double in size (about 1 hour).
Remove from oven and knead a couple more times. Divide the dough into three equal portions and shape into loaves. Cover with a tea towel and let the dough rise for 15 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook each loaf in simmering water for 10 minutes on each side. The loaves will expand in size. If the pot is large enough multiple loaves can be cooked at the same time.
Remove from water, prick some holes in the loaf to release steam, and let rest 5-10 minutes on drying rack. Cut loaves into 3/4 inch slices gently with a thread (traditional method) or serrated knife.
– A couple times when I made this recipe, the dumplings turned out slightly underdone in the centre. Make sure the water is boiling and gently simmering for the entire cook time (10 minutes per side)