Are Dumplings a Czech Invention? + recipe for Czech traditional houskový knedlík!
Dumpling is a cooked dish made from dough. The dough composition varies greatly according to different recipes. Dumplings can be without filling or with various filling. They can be salty or sweet. They are shaped into a ball or cone and cooked in salted water or steam.
In antiquity and in the Middle Ages, dumplings were called meat balls or cones and dipped buns. From around the 17th century flour began to be used as a base. At the beginning of the 19th century the name “knödel” appeared, which was translated into Czech as “knedlík” (a dumpling). At that time they were not a side dish, but a main dish. Gradually, there were different variations of their use, fillings and shapes. There are also typical national dishes, such as the well-known “vepřo-knedlo-zelo” (pork-dumplings-cabbage).
According to experts, the origin of the dumpling is still disputed by Czechs, Austrians and Germans. It is a Central European issue that we cannot identify as it originated. However, it has a tradition and popularity in all the above-mentioned countries. In the Czech Republic you can have sweet dumplings (for example filled with fruit), salty as a side dish (f.e. dumplings with gulash or “svíčková” sauce) or as a main dish (for example, potato dumplings filled with smoked meat).
The first mention of “houskový knedlík (in english “bread dumplings”) comes from the 7th century. In the Middle Ages, bread dumplings were the food of rich and poor people. In the 19th century, when Czech national cuisine began to form, Czech dumplings became a phenomenon because they were made differently from similar Austrian or German dumplings. It was improved during the First Republic. It has an oval shape and is served as a side dish. The basis is coarse flour, lukewarm milk (or water), yeast, eggs (or yolks), bun (not fresh) and salt.
Recipe for traditional Czech “houskový knedlík”:
Ingredients for dough:
0.5 pinches of salt
0.5 teaspoon of sugar
1 piece of egg
20 g of yeast
1 deciliter of milk
300g of semi-flour
Bread roll according to you taste
Oil for rubbing
From milk, sugar and yeast we make a sourdough and let it rise. Pour flour, salt and eggs into a bowl. Add the sourdough, the diced bread roll according to your taste, and process the dough well. If it sticks, add some flour. Dust the dough with flour, cover with a cloth and leave to rise for 45 minutes.
Divide the leavened dough into halves and rework the two pieces again. Leave for 5 minutes and roll 2 dumplings. Leave again for 5 minutes.
Boil dumplings for 20 minutes in salted water (after 10 minutes turn the dumplings). After removing from the water, thoroughly pierce to leave excess steam, then rub the surface of the dumplings with oil.
Slice the dumplings and serve as a side dish.
Important information about “bread” used – we use buns or bread rolls for these dumplings, not a typical bread.