Had Dracula tasted this he would have eaten nothing else. The same would be true for me if I didn’t have a full time job that prevents me from staying home all day to bake. I first tasted this yeasty treat when Stephen (Canadian of Transylvanian ancestry) bought it to a pot luck dinner. He was kind enough to share this family recipe with me and give permission to share it with you all. This dish is utter heaven fresh from the oven; buttery and warm, the center of the dumpling melts in the mouth and the caramelized nut outer provides a toothsome bite that makes you want to tear another from the loaf. Cold the dumplings are similar to brioche and, along with an espresso, they make a great Sunday morning breakfast treat.
Preparation and cooking time – preparing dough: 30 min, rise time: 2 hrs for me but it depends on your kitchen temp, forming dumplings: 10 min, optional second rise: 15 min, bake time: 30-40 min approximately. Oven temperature: 175 degrees Celsius.
400 ml warmed milk
1 tsp yeast (slightly more if using Surebake Yeast)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
500 g flour
2-3 free range egg yolks (lightly beaten)
100 g butter (unsalted and melted)
extra melted butter for keeping the spoon moist while forming dumplings
1/2 cup of A1 white sugar
1 cup walnuts
Now this is bread making the old school way. Dumping these ingredients in a bread-maker and hoping for the best will not work with this one. But don’t let that put you off. It won’t take up much of your day and the result is amazing.
Dissolve the salt and sugar in 100 ml of the warm (blood temperature) milk. Add the yeast to this mix to activate it. Because I use SureBake yeast, I just stirred it in for a minute then moved on. If you use a live yeast a little more care should be taken. Add the rest of the warm milk, the flour and free range egg yolks and combine to form a dough.
Now this is where you need to accept that there is no better tool in your kitchen than your bare hands. Dip them in the melted butter and form the dough into a ball. Tip it on a buttered bench and continue to fold and press the dough, re-dipping your hands as required and using a pastry scraper if it needs lifting from the bench. Flatten the dough on the bench by pressing you fingertips into the dough to make little wells. Poor on some of the melted butter. Fold up the dough, thus trapping the butter, and continue to kneed. Repeat this process until all of the butter has gone. I now wish I had taken a photo of this to show you, but between the buttery hands and how much fun I was having handling this dough, it just wasn’t going to happen. Needless to say, you will see a slight color change from buttery yellow to creamy yellow when the butter is completely combined. I stopped kneading after this happened and when the dough felt elastic when prodded.
Form the dough into a smooth ball and place in a buttered bowl at least twice its volume. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to double in size. By warm I mean my kitchen in summer, the hot water cylinder cupboard in winter or, if you don’t have one of those, in the oven with just the light on. If it is a little cool it will just take a little while longer.
While the dough is rising prepare the coating and your baking tin. Take the sugar and nuts and grind them together. I used a pestle and mortar to do this because I wanted a rough end result. You could use a bag and rolling pin for the same effect or just blitz the mix in a food processor for a finer result. You can bake this in almost any kind of tin. I prefer springform cake tins with a sheet of baking parchment clipped into the bottom. This guarantees a non-stick base. Butter all sides of your tin, what ever kind it may be, and dust with the sugar-nut mix.
When the dough has doubled in size you can form the dumplings. I cut large tablespoon sized pieces of dough away with a buttered spoon. Taking care not to crush them, I pinched the dumplings into a roundish shape, coated them in the sugar-nut mix and packed them into the prepared cake tin.
You can form the dumplings any size you want; Stephen makes his smaller and in two layers. Also, these dumplings are fine eaten straight from the tin, so there is no need to fuss too much about how non-stick it is. If you have squished your dumplings while forming them they made need a second rise of about 15 min. Place into an oven preheated to 175 degrees Celsius and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Check between dumplings in the centre to ensure the dough is cooked through. When done, I popped mine out of the lined springform tin and put it on a wire rack with the intention to allow it to cool. Most of it didn’t last that long. Nom.