Transylvanian Plum Dumplings
When I was growing up in Târgu-Mureş, plum dumplings (gomboţi cu prune) used to show up pretty often on the weekly menu because they were one of those versatile recipes that you could either eat as main course, after a heavy meal soup, or you could serve them as dessert. My mom used to make a variation with curd cheese (brânză de vaci) instead of potatoes and I actually liked those more. Unfortunately I cannot find the same curd cheese over here in Belgium, so I stick to potatoes. Plum dumplings are such a comfort food favourite from my childhood, that I was really surprised when a few weeks ago I realized I had never made them myself. I called my mom, checked a few recipes on google to understand the proportions of the ingredients and gave it a try. I made them one time with plums, and a second time with apricots. The first try was the best and I found that plums are really going well with this dough and add more flavour than apricots do. Especially if you poach them first in a vanilla syrup with lemon zest and some herbs like basil or rosemary. The second time, I also added more flour, because I thought if they are harder, I can form nicer round balls, but then I didn’t find them as delicious as the first time. So I stick to the initial recipe now.
It took me a while to write this recipe, because I realized I didn’t take any photos with the inside of the dumplings and I panicked. I was going to make them one more time and take the perfect shot with juicy inside and everything. But as the days were passing by and there was no time for a third batch of plum dumplings, I kept on hearing Anne Lamott whispering in my year: Perfection is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of people. It doesn't always have to be perfect; good enough is sometimes just good enough. So you’ll have to trust me on this one and give me a call or a message if something doesn’t work. The plums are inside. I promise.
L.E. I made them a few times in the meantime, so I added a picture with the inside at the end of this post.
Ingredients (makes around 10 dumplings):
400 g potatoes
100 g sugar
100 g flour
150 g bread crumbs
50 g butter
½ tea spoon salt
1 tea spoon cinnamon
1 tea spoon vanilla sugar
I like to poach the plums first, so they have more flavour, but it’s not mandatory as it will make it a bit more difficult to actually form the round dumplings. If you poach them, just bring some water to the boiling point, and then leave it at low heat. Add 4 spoons of brown sugar, a vanilla stick or vanilla essence, lemon zest and some herbs like basil, rosemary or thyme. Then add the plums and leave them poaching for about 5-7 minutes.
Boil the whole potatoes, with the skin. Let them cool until they are not hot anymore and you can easily grate them.
In a large pan, toast the bread crumbs until they are golden brown, at very low heat. When the bread crumbs are roasted, add the sugar and put the heat off. Add a large pot of water and bring it to boiling. Add a teaspoon of salt.
Take a large bowl and grate the potatoes on the super fine side. Add the egg and start kneading with your hands. Add the salt. As you start adding the flour, the dough will stick to your hands, but no worries, it’s the normal thing. This is a soft dough, so continue adding flour until it’s thick enough that you can handle it, but not too thick, otherwise it will get very hard when you boil it and it will less tasty.
When you reached the consistency you want, make a long cylinder and start cutting small even pieces. You might want to add some additional flour on the counter, and make your hands wet, so the dough is not sticking.
Make small round circles from the dough and add a plum in the middle. Make round balls and add them in the pot of boiling water. If you have a big pot, all 10 dumplings could fit. Let them boil for 30 minutes.
As you take the dumplings out of the pot, roll them in the pan with the bread crumbs and sugar mix. You can add some more powder sugar when you serve them. It’s best to eat them fresh and hot, out of the pot. Bon appétit!