Sweet strawberry dumplings are one of my favourite childhood food fulfilled with beautiful summer memories, spent at my grandmothers in Slovakia. When someone asks you, what is the meal, that brings you back to your childhood, then this is it. It is also one of the Czech classics.
For me it was these delicious, fluffy sweet dumplings. Filled with fresh strawberries and often topped with cottage cheese, confectioner sugar and melted butter. Oh, what a delight!
I can still smell this fresh scent of strawberries. My grandmother used to cook close to 80 dumplings. Me and my other 11 cousins, used to spend summer holidays at my grandma’s estate in West of Slovakia. I called it back then the grandiose estate. Because at that time, I was just a kid and everything looked to me so big:)
We used to spend hours in her huge garden, not only picking up fresh strawberries or any other fresh fruits, but also to remove weeds. These were our morning tasks, along with washing dishes or making beds.
Afternoons, we used to spend at the sandy lakes with our friends, surrounded by pine groves, we had nearby the village. Oh yeah, these were a great times!
My grandmother, at that time, grow all the main vegetables and fruits in her garden. We used to have cherry, apples, pears and plum trees. Bushes of red, white & black currant. In autumn, we picked many sorts of vine grapes.
The feeling of independence having all you need in your garden, was amazing! When in the morning we decided having vegetable soup, we simply went to the garden and pick whatever fresh vegetable was growing there. Such as carrots, celery, parsnip, potatoes or green peas. This was my summer time childhood 🙂
Well enough of good old times, now I have to explain you, how to make these delightful, fluffy sweet strawberry dumplings. First, I will talk about yeast. Yeast is used in baking as a leavening agent, where it converts the food fermentable sugars present in dough into the gas carbon dioxide. This causes the dough to expand or rise as gas forms pockets or bubbles. This is science:)
what kind of yeast to use
There are 3 types of yeast commonly available
- Fresh yeast which comes in solid square form
- Active dry yeast is in dry form of granules
- Fast-acting or instant yeast very fine granules or pellets
Fresh yeast will only last a couple of days in the refrigerator, but can be frozen for up to 3 months. Active dry and instant yeast can be stored in a cool dry (refrigerator once opened) place until the ‘best before’ date on the packaging.
Fresh yeast and active dry yeast granules need to be dissolved in warm liquid along with a little sugar to get them working and should be left to stand for 5 to 10 minutes, until bubbles start to form on the surface of the yeast mixture, before adding it the other main ingredients. Instant yeast comes in the form of very fine granules or pellets, so can just be added directly to the flour and mixed in along with the other ingredients. But in my long baking experience, I always dissolve even Instant yeast and make a yeast started before adding it to the other ingredients. Except when making bread.
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- Dutch oven homemade bread
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- cheesecake little bites with strawberries
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I usually use active or instant yeast, because it’s easier to store it and it doesn’t have a strong smell. On the other hand, I find, that fresh yeast reacts much faster and makes the dough rise much quicker and dumplings are much fluffier.
Substitute one yeast for another
For dry active yeast use half the quantity of fresh yeast, instant yeast you need to use 1/4 of the quantity of fresh yeast.
30g (1 ounce) of fresh yeast = 15g (1/2 ounce) active dry yeast= 7g (1/4) instant yeast
Pressed dry cottage cheese
Cottage cheese comes into three varieties of North America (as far as I know), based on the amount of milk fat in it: regular cottage cheese, low fat cottage cheese and nonfat dry curd cottage cheese. In this recipe for strawberry dumplings, I am using dry curd cottage cheese (or dry pressed cottage cheese) and that, as a topping on the dumplings. But you can add a bit of cottage cheese also in the filling, if you wish.
By adding desired amount of sugar or sweetener in cottage cheese, you will create tasty topping or filling for these strawberry dumplings. I love dry pressed cottage cheese, because you can sprinkle it like a sugar on the top of the dumplings.
Fresh or frozen strawberries
Oh, sweet delight of summery fruits, like strawberries. Fresh strawberries are best. At these times, we get strawberries all year long, but they don’t taste the same. When local strawberry farm next to my house open in late June with offer “pick up your own strawberries” We always run, with my kids to pick up some fresh strawberries.
We bring many baskets back home and first thing, what I do, are these strawberry dumplings. I make as well jam from strawberries or smoothies. Another great way to preserve the strawberries, is to freeze them for later use. Or make these delicious STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE MOUSSE.
In this recipe for strawberry dumplings, you can use also frozen strawberries. Don’t forget to thaw them and strain excessive liquid, before using them. Otherwise, your dough wouldn’t be too saggy. By adding few spoons of sugar to the filling, will make your dumpling even more delicious.
Clean and cut you strawberries in quarters, its is easier to handle the strawberries, while shaping the dumpling. If your strawberries are huge, which some of them can be really giant, cut them in even smaller pieces than quarters.
How to steam czech dumpligs
- Bamboo steamer
- Stainless steel steamer basket
- Double boiler pot
Without any special equipment, you can steam your strawberry dumplings. I have named 4 main tools for steaming, and I am sure one of those must be in the forgotten corner of your kitchen. By surprise, I actually have all 4 of these. But I find, that cheesecloth method is my so far favourite. And the reason is, because it can carry 10 dumplings at a time.
STRAWBERRY DUMPLINGS WITH COTTAGE CHEESE
- Large sauce pot with lid
- cheesecloth or stainless steamer
- 4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp instant yeast or 20 g fresh yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm milk
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups (300 g) fresh strawberries clean and cut
- 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
COTTAGE CHEESE TOPPING
- 1 cup (200-250 g) pressed dry (curd) cottage cheese
- 2/3 cup (150 g) melted butter
- 1/2 cup (100 g) confectioner (icing) sugar
- 1 cup fresh strawberries clean and cut
FOR THE DOUGH
- In a large bowl of standing mixer, sift all-purpose flour and make a small nest with your hand to place crumbled fresh yeast. Add sugar and half of the lukewarm milk. (If you are using dry yeast, place the yeast in a cup, add lukewarm milk and sugar, stir with a spoon & let rise for 10 minutes. Add it to the all-purpose flour and continue the recipe below). Within ten minutes the yeast should start to activate and become bubbly.
- Add the remaining milk, eggs and salt and with hook attachment, knead until the dough is no more sticky. Allow the dough to rise for one hour, in warm place (cover the bowl with clean cloth).
- Dump the dough on a flat surface, sprinkled with flour. Roll the dough 1/2 inch thick and cut out 3-inch large pieces with cookie cutter. You should be able to cut out at least 20 pieces.
- Clean and cut strawberries on small pieces, place them in a medium bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Stir well. Put one tablespoon of strawberry mix on each cut out dumpling dough and close the dough by tucking it inside and shaping a ball. Once all the dumplings are shaped, cover them with clean cloth and let them rise for another 20 minutes.
- In the meanwhile, prepare large sauce pot 10-inch, with water and secure cheesecloth on the edges of the pot. Tighten up well the cheesecloth on the handles of the sauce pot. You can also use stainless steel steamer, but make sure to either place clean cloth over it or brush it lightly with vegetable oil or melted butter, to prevent sticking. Bring the water to boil and add 1 tsp of salt.
- Place the dumplings on the cheesecloth (or in the steamer), cover with a lid and steam for 8 minutes. After steaming, poke each dumpling with a fork, so the steam can escape and the dumplings remain fluffy.
- Place the dumplings in large kitchen bowl and cover with plastic food wrap, so they stay warm.
FOR THE TOPPINGS
- Place 4-5 dumplings on a plate, crumble the dry cottage cheese on the top of the dumplings, pour over melted butter, add fresh strawberries and sift all over confectioner sugar. It is a heaven! Enjoy!
- Always make a starter with the fresh or dry yeast. It makes the dough fluffier.
- When yeast is not good: If yeast starter doesn’t bubble it means your dry or fresh yeast is too old, buy new one.
- Use warm milk, not hot. Hot milk will kill yeast and the dough won’t prove.
- Depending on the season, in summer the dough can double in size within 30-40 minutes. In winter, it can take up to 1 hour and 30 minutes. The dough needs to be in warm, possibly sunny place to double in size.
- Steaming the dumplings: I have used cheesecloth method, which is the easiest one and you can fit in 10-inch sauce pot up to 10 dumplings. So in two batches you are done. If you use stainless steel basket or double boiler pot, make sure to brush it with oil or butter, to prevent sticking. You can also place clean cotton cloth on the steamer, to prevent sticking. Also keep in mind, if you use smaller sauce pot, place the amount of dumplings inside, according the size of your sauce pot. Dumplings double in size while steaming.
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