Bread Dumplings {Semmelknödel}

Hello again after a few weeks of laziness and no proper cooking! The other week I saw this recipe for Czechoslovakian bread dumplings at Chef Mimi’s. I was lucky enough to try these bread dumplings on a trip to Prague, and while I’ve never made them myself, the recipe reminded me of my family’s recipe for bread dumplings – which I’ve also never made myself. Why make them when you can invite yourself to your parents’ for lunch? 😀

After a little online chat with Chef Mimi, I decided to get the recipe from my mother, and here we are. Bread dumplings – or Semmelknödel as they’re called in Germany – are a specialty of Southern German cuisine, and you’ll find them on menus in Bavaria and Swabia. You’ll also get them in Austria, although I don’t know how exactly the ingredients differ.

Bread Dumplings 01

My family’s version has only five ingredients and is done quicker than I’d expected. Having to soak the bread rolls in milk to me sounded like lots of beforehand preparation, but that isn’t the case at all.

Semmelknödel are traditionally served as a side dish with various kinds of meat and either a thin-ish brown sauce or a creamy sauce. As a vegetarian option they’re also popular served with said creamy sauce and mushrooms, like a mushroom ragout. Whatever you serve with bread dumplings, they require sauce – brown sauce, creamy sauce, whatever takes your fancy but it needs to be a good amount; you want to mop up the sauce with the dumplings.

In my family we like to have them “fresh from the pot” but also the next day cut into slices, strips or cubes and fried in a generous amount of butter – just plain by themselves.

Bread Dumplings 02

A note on the bread rolls – in Germany bread rolls are not the soft kind that you’ll find in some countries. Our plain white rolls are more comparable to French baguette than to e.g. UK or US bread rolls – so if you can’t find those rolls, cut up some baguette. I would not use rolls that contain or are topped with seeds. I have no experience using wholegrain rolls but my gut instinct would say no.

A quick mention of possible hazards is necessary here, though:
Although the recipe is really easy, I’ve made a mistake – because of the amount of sliced rolls, I placed them in a huge mixing bowl. That way, unfortunately, I couldn’t properly see how much of the milk landed at the bottom, and thus added way too much.
Next time I would place the sliced rolls in a large pie dish or roasting tray so the slices are distributed evenly across the bottom; then I recommend starting with very little milk – not more than 150 ml, because the eggs will add liquid as well. It’s so much easier to add more milk to the mix if that isn’t enough than doing it my inexperienced way, which was pressing the whole mix bit by bit into a sieve to lose the excess milk.
The whole mix needs to be the consistency of a soft dough, so it shouldn’t be too mushy.
If it does happen, the only way to remedy it is to add more dried bread. Luckily I had some toast and was able to save the mixture by adding that.

Thank you Chef Mimi for getting me to make these! Now I know how easy it is to make them, they’ll definitely make a reappearance on my menu!

Bread Dumplings 03

Bread Dumplings {Semmelknödel}

  • Servings: 5-7 pcs
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5 plain bread rolls
3 eggs, medium
flat leaf parsley

Thinly slice 5 plain bread rolls, lay out in a flat pie dish or roasting tin, then pour over some milk – not more than 150 ml to start with. Mix together to see if more milk is needed. There should be no milk collecting in the pan.

Add 2 tsp salt and 3 medium eggs and mix well. If the mixture is dough-y and firm, add the parsley. If mixture is too mushy, add more bread.

Heat a generous sized pot of water with 1 – 2 tsp salt. Meanwhile form tennis ball sized dumplings from the bread mixture and set aside until water starts boiling. [At this point you can also start any preparations or cooking of whatever you’re having with the dumplings.]

Once the water is on the boil, carefully lift the dumplings into the boiling water, leave for 5 minutes, then let steep on low heat for 15 – 20 minutes.

Bread Dumplings 04

For today’s post, to accompany the dumplings I thinly sliced pork tenderloin and browned it in a pan with very little butter, took it out, added a chopped shallot and a garlic clove to the pan then quickly added pie-cut mushrooms with more butter. Fried those until slightly browned, then poured in some high quality white balsamic (that’s on the sweet side), and when the browned remains of the fried meat (what is the technical term for that?) started to come off the bottom of the pan, I added cream, then let it cook down.  More cream will be needed along the way as it cooks down.
Start on the meat frying as soon as you switch on the heat for the dumplings.