Bohemian / Czech Yeast-Raised Bread Dumplings
One of the things I love about Chicago (aka the homeland) is the abundance of ethnic restaurants. My husband, who is of Czech (Bohemian!) descent, especially loved the Czech restaurants and bakeries, and really missed the food when we moved to California in 2004–especially those authentic Bohemian (Czech) yeast-raised bread dumplings!
There were NO Czech restaurants, although we DID find a bar out in Redondo Beach, about a 50 mile drive, that served Bohemian food, including some pretty decent bread dumplings.
I was pretty shocked to find that in California grocery stores, you can find all manner of ethnic foods… but NO dumplings! He missed those Bohemian dinners I used to make with pork roast, sauerkraut, gravy (lots of gravy) and those handy Chateau frozen bread dumplings. They were so easy–you just place the pre-sliced dumplings with a bit of water in a covered casserole and microwave. Alas, no store in California had the Chateau dumplings. I had no choice; I was forced to learn the art of making Bohemian Yeast-Raised dumplings from scratch.
It’s really not very difficult, though it is a little time consuming. But if you like authentic Bohemian food, it’s worth it. I always at least triple the recipe because these little loaves freeze up great. That way, whenever I see those nice $1.99/lb. pork loin roast sales, I can serve up a real Bohemian feast easily.
A Bohemian Feast
Before we get to the dumpling recipe, let me tell you about the other stuff that goes into a great Bohemian dinner.
Kraut is crucial! I use jarred sauerkraut, rinse it lightly, and then add grated or chopped apple and a bit of grated onion. It’s awesome–rinsing removes some of the sodium, and the apple adds just a touch of sweetness. I have also been know to add… Ginger Ale! I typically use diet, about a half a can; I’m sure regular Ginger Ale would be delicious, too. It really perks up that kraut!
Apple sauce is always a nice addition to a pork roast dinner. You can used store bought, but I like to put peeled, chopped apples in my Magic Bullet or Food Processor. No cooking required! I add a few drops of lemon juice to discourage browning, a little cinnamon, and if necessary, a little sweetener or sugar.
Don’t forget gravy–lots of gravy! Gravy is EVERYTHING when you’re chowing down on these amazing dumplings.
And finally, the DUMPLINGS! Believe me, I failed at making dumplings a few times before I found this perfect recipes on Cooks.com. Word of warning: if you try to bring your milk to room temperature by microwaving it and it ends up too warm, your yeast sponge will DIE! (Been there, done that… RIP yeast sponge. Had to resort to mashed potatoes instead of dumplings… so sad!!!)
BOHEMIAN YEAST-RAISED DUMPLINGS
2 pkgs. dry yeast
1/4 c. milk
4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tbsp. butter
2 eggs, room temperature, beaten
1 c. milk, room temperature
1 tsp. salt
Combine yeast, 1/4 cup milk and 1 1/2 tablespoons flour in small bowl to make a yeast
sponge. Cover and let stand for 30 to 60 minutes until it begins to bubble.
Combine sponge with butter and eggs. Blend in 1 cup milk and salt. Stir in rest of flour to make a soft bread dough. Lightly knead on floured board 5 minutes. Cover and let rise 1 hour.* Shape into 4 oval loaves. Flour tops. Let rise 1 hour.*
Drop into large pot of boiling water. Cover immediately. Cook 10 minutes. Do not uncover while cooking. Remove with slotted spoon. Drain and slice. (Original recipe suggests an electric knife, but a serrated one will work.) Serve with roast pork, gravy, sauerkraut and applesauce.
The recipe stated “Dumplings should not touch each other while cooking.” Kind of like kids in the back seat on a long road trip, right? Mine always touch a little, and the come out just fine!
When the loaves have cooled, you can wrap some up tightly and freeze for later. You can even slice them up to make French Toast–unbelievably delicious!
How About Some Nice Czech Entertainment While You Wait?
*That’s a lot of rising/waiting time. Want some distinctively Czech entertainment while you wait? Not squeamish? See if you can get your hands on a copy of Jan Svankmajer’s “Little Otik.” It’s seriously wacked, like ALL of his (yeah, Jan is a dude) films. I found this movie quite by accident once during a fit of insomnia. Since it’s subtitled, I thought, “Hey, I can watch this at 3:00 a.m. without awakening Mr. Bae.” I was utterly transfixed. But then, I do have a penchant for
bizarre artsy films.
“Little Otik” is a very, very strange movie about a doll made from a log that comes to life. It’s based on a Czech fairy tale. A man makes “Little Otik” out of a log for his broken hearted wife, who is unable to have the child she so desperately wants. She loves and cares for her log baby just as she would a human child, literally loving and nurturing him to life. As he grows… well, let’s just say his appetite grows, too. And grows, and grows, and….
And hair’s not all Little Otik eats…. I’ll bet you’re hungry now, huh? ENJOY!