Last Updated on 3 years by Tim
These German potato dumplings might look like bland potato balls but don’t let yourself fool by their plain appearance. They are one of the most delicate foods in the world.
Making the perfect potato dumpling requires quite a bit of experience and finesse. I’ve eaten a ton of badly prepared ones in my life. Most often cooks add way too much starch to the dumpling dough resulting in hard and rubbery dumplings.
You know what I’m talking about in case you’ve ever been served a bunch of rubber balls at a badly run German restaurant or canteen.
Well made potato dumplings are fluffy and light. You don’t need a knife to cut through them. A spoon is enough to tear them apart. There’s little to no gum
Today I’m going to teach you the Thuringia-style of making potato dumplings. It’s the most delicate one. It’s prepared using a ratio of 2/3 raw potatoes to 1/3 cooked potatoes. There’s also the Bavaria-style of making potato dumplings which are made of only cooked potatoes. I will cover these in the next post of my basics series.
The Building Blocks of German Cusine Series
This article is part of my basics series, which will introduce you to key ingredients and preparation methods. You can find all these articles in the ‘Basics’ category of this blog. Listed below are the articles that have yet been published in this series:
- Swabian Egg Noodles (‘Schwäbische Eiernudeln’)
- Swabian Soup Noodles (‘Schwäbische Suppennudeln’)
- French Fries (‘Pommes frites’)
- Swabian Pretzels (‘Schwäbische Laugenbrezeln’)
- Kratzete, Eierhaber
- Duchess Potatoes (‘Herzoginnenkartoffeln’)
- Ribbon Noodles (‘Bandnudeln’)
- Muesli (‘Müsli’)
- German Bread Rolls (‘Weizenbrötchen’)
- Potato Puree (‘Kartoffelbrei’)
- German Potato Dumplings Bavaria-style (‘Bayerische Kartoffelknödel’)
- German Potato Dumplings Thuringia-style (‘Thüringer Kartoffelklöse’)
- German Bread Dumplings (‘Semmelknödel’)
- German Potato Pancakes (‘Reibekuchen’)
- Potato Noodles (‘Schupfnudeln’)
- German Boiled Potatoes (‘Kartoffeln’)
- Homemade Beef broth (‘Fleischbrühe’)
- German Pancakes (‘Pfannkuchen’)
- Homemade Semolina Soup Noodles (‘Hartweizen-Suppennudeln’)
- Chicken Broth (‘Hühnerbrühe’)
- Spaetzle (‘Spätzle’)
Prepare your potatoes
It’s vital that you use starchy potatoes for making potato dumplings. Starch is an important binding ingredient that will hold your potato dumplings together.
One-third of your potatoes
Your potato puree needs to be smooth. Use a potato ricer or pass your potatoes through a tamis. A masher won’t do. Potato dumplings are all about their texture.
Don’t even think about starting to grate the other two-thirds of raw potatoes before you’ve pureed your cooked potatoes. Raw potatoes discolor super quickly and you don’t want to end up with brown dumplings.
The raw potatoes need to be grated as finely as possible. For convenience and speed, it is advisable to use a food processor for this task. The faster you work the better the color of your dumplings.
Get rid of any excess moisture
The grated raw potatoes contain a lot of excess moisture which you will need to get rid off. Wrap them tightly in a large kitchen towel and squeeze out any excess water into a large mixing bowl. Don’t discard the liquid yet.
The potato starch will set at the bottom of the potato water. This takes about 5 minutes. You will notice a white layer on the bottom of your bowl. That’s the starch from the potatoes that you want to reserve. Carefully drain the excess liquid leaving behind the potato starch.
Then you’re ready to assemble your dumpling dough. Combine the raw and cooked potatoes together with the reserved potato starch. Add no more than 2-3 tablespoons of extra potato starch and season the dough to taste with salt.
You won’t need to add any spices. Believe me, it’s tough for me to not add in a sprinkling of nutmeg or pepper. But these dumplings are supposed to taste like plain potatoes. Their main task is to soak up the gravy. And good gravy doesn’t need additional spice.
How to shape your dumplings
These dumplings are usually filled with a small crouton but can also be enjoyed without filing. To make croutons, just take some bread cubes and saute them in butter for a few minutes until they turn crispy. This is best done beforehand while cooking your potatoes.
The size of the dumplings is up to your preference. I prefer mine to be on the smaller side, about the size of a golf ball, but most commonly they are about the size of a tennis ball.
To shape your dumplings, take a small handful of your dough and flatten it out in one hand. Place your crouton in the center and wrap the dough around it to form a ball. Make sure to roll the dough between your hands until the surface is completely smooth.
How to poach your potato dumplings
The water you are poaching your dumplings in should always be just below a light simmer. Otherwise, you risk your dumplings falling apart. When submerging them into the liquid, they will first fall to the bottom of the pot and then slowly rise to the top. Let the dumplings poach for about 20-25 minutes.
Once ready, you can take them out and drain any excess water. I like to place them on a paper towel. Don’t worry if your potato dumplings seem a little soft at first. They will firm up once they cool down a little. So, before serving, it’s best to let them rest for about 3-4 minutes.
If you’re inexperienced with making dumplings please always cook a test dumpling first. In case your test dumpling falls apart, add a little more extra potato starch into the dumpling dough until it holds its shape.
But don’t overdo it with the starch. Add in no more than 1-2 tablespoons at a time. A lot of cooks are scared that their dumplings will fall apart so they add in a ton of starch just to be on the safe side. This results in rubbery and hard dumplings which are no joy to eat.
Before adding too much starch into your dumpling dough it’s better to add some potato starch into your poaching liquid to make it more vicious. That way your potato dumplings will move around less and poach more gently
It’s important that you dissolve the starch in some water before adding it to the poaching liquid as it will form lumps otherwise. A few tablespoons of starch are usually enough.
However, if your dumpling dough is on point this is totally unnecessary. I never thicken my poaching liquid with potato starch and my potato dumplings always come out just fine. It’s much more important to keep your poaching liquid always just below a light simmer.
How to serve your potato dumplings
Don’t worry if your potato dumplings don’t come out perfectly round or if they have a little rough and uneven surface. This is completely normal and indicates that your potato dumplings are of superior quality.
Commercial products might look prettier on the outside but that is due to the extensive use of potato starch. They look nice but taste like rubber gum. Hard and unpleasantly chewy.
Potato dumplings are best served with saucy dishes. They go perfect with roast meats like pork or duck. They’re also delightful if paired with a rich beef stew.
German Potato Dumplings Thuringia-style (‘Thüringer Kartoffelklöse’)
If you have no experience with making potato dumplings it’s best to cook a test dumpling before adding your entire batch into the poaching liquid. If the test dumpling falls apart, add 1-2 more tablespoons of potato starch to your dough until it holds its shape when poached. Also, make sure your poaching liquid is always just below a light simmer and that the surface of your dumplings is completely smooth without any holes.
- 4 pounds (1.8 kg) starchy potatoes
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 small leftover bread roll or 2 slices of toast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2-3 tablespoons potato starch
Cook the potatoes:
- Take one-third of the potatoes (about 1.2-1.4 pounds/ 500-600 g) and place them in a large pot. Cover with cold water and season liberally with salt. Bring the water up to a boil then cover the pot and cook the potatoes skin-on for about 20 minutes or until tender. The potatoes are done once they easily slide off when pierced with a sharp paring knife. Drain the potatoes and peel using a sharp paring knife while still hot. Press the warm potatoes through your potato ricer or pass them through a tamis to get a smooth puree.
Prepare the croutons:
- It’s best to prepare the croutons while the potatoes are cooking. Heat the butter in a small nonstick pan over medium heat then add the bread or toast cubes and saute for 4-5 minutes until crispy on all sides and slightly charred. Set aside.
Prepare the potato dough:
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, then turn down the heat to keep it just below a light simmer.
- Peel your leftover raw potatoes and grate them super fine. It’s best to use your food processor for this. Wrap the grated potatoes in a large kitchen towel and squeeze out any excess moisture. Reserve the liquid in a large mixing bowl. Let the liquid sit for about 5 minutes. The starch from the potato will set at the bottom of your bowl. Carefully drain the potato liquid while reserving the white potato starch at the bottom. Add the grated potatoes and your potato puree into the mixing bowl. Add the extra potato starch and mix everything well. Season the dumpling dough to taste with salt.
Form and poach the dumplings:
- The size of the dumplings is up to your preference. Take some of your potato dough and flatten it out in your hands. Place a crouton in the center and wrap the dough around it forming it into a ball-shape. Make sure all the edges are sealed tightly and that the surface is completely smooth so that you won’t end up with watery dumplings. Drop the dumplings into your hot water that should be just below a light simmer. They will first sink to the bottom and then slowly float up over time. Let the dumplings poach for about 20-25 minutes. Once cooked, take them out of the water and place them on a paper towel to drain any excess moisture. Let the potatoes sit for 3-4 minutes before serving so that they have the chance to firm up a little. Serve them with anything saucy.
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