This traditional Romanian plum dumplings dessert features delightful plums inside a potato dough , generously coated with sweet, buttery bread crumbs.
Plum dumplings are popular in Central Europe and Eastern European countries (Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany) and it can be eaten as desert or as a main course.
What are plum dumplings?
Traditional Romanian Plum Dumplings, known as "Galuste cu prune" or "Gomboti cu prune," are a beloved and popular dessert that holds a special place in Romanian cuisine. These delectable treats capture the essence of homemade comfort food, with a unique combination of flavors and textures.
The key ingredients in these dumplings are plums and a potato-based dough. Plums are chosen for their sweet and slightly tart flavor, and they are often pitted to make room for a pinch of sugar, which enhances the overall taste. The dough, made from potatoes, is soft and slightly chewy, creating a pleasing contrast with the plums.
The process of making these dumplings is a labor of love. It involves boiling the potatoes, mashing them into a dough, and then carefully wrapping each plum in a potato blanket. The goal is to encase the plum completely, ensuring that the filling stays intact during cooking.
Once the dumplings are ready, they are gently boiled until they float to the surface. This cooking method keeps the plums moist and flavorful while allowing the dough to cook to perfection.
The finishing touch to these delightful dumplings is the sweet and buttery breadcrumb coating. It provides a lovely, crunchy contrast to the tender dumplings and enhances the overall sweetness of the dessert. The bread crumbs are toasted to a golden brown and mixed with butter and sometimes a hint of cinnamon for that extra layer of flavor.
Plum dumplings are often served warm, and they can be found at various family gatherings, holidays, and special occasions throughout Romania. Their comforting taste and homemade appeal make them a true gem in Romanian culinary traditions. Whether enjoyed as a dessert or a snack, these traditional Romanian plum dumplings offer a delightful taste of the country's rich culinary heritage.
Why this recipe works?
The delicious dumplings recipe works because it combines the right ingredients, flavors, and textures to create a delicious and comforting dish that resonates with both tradition and personal taste.
- Balanced Flavors: The combination of sweet, juicy plums and a slightly sweet, starchy dough creates a delightful balance of flavors, with the sugar inside the plums enhancing their natural sweetness.
- Texture Contrast: The tender, fruity interior of the plums contrasts with the chewy potato-based dough, while the crispy breadcrumb coating adds another layer of texture, making each bite enjoyable.
- Cultural Heritage: The recipe has been passed down through generations and is a beloved part of the culinary tradition in many Central and Eastern European countries, offering a taste of cultural heritage.
- Versatility: The recipe allows for customization, with variations to suit individual preferences, whether it's the choice of plums or alternative fillings, coatings, or accompaniments like sour cream or powdered sugar.
- Ease of Preparation: While the recipe may seem involved, it's relatively straightforward, making it accessible for home cooks. The step-by-step process ensures that the dumplings turn out delicious with some patience and attention to detail.
- Appealing Presentation: Plum dumplings are visually appealing with their plum-filled centers and golden breadcrumb coatings, making them an enticing dish.
- Nostalgia and Comfort: For those who grew up with this dish, it holds a sense of nostalgia and comfort, making it a cherished and satisfying dessert.
Ingredients you'll need
- Italian Prune Plums: Pitted small plums, sweet and slightly tart plums for the filling.
- Starchy Potatoes: Boiled and mashed to make the dumpling dough.
- All-Purpose Flour: Mixed with potatoes to create the dough's texture.
- Sugar Cubes: Placed inside plums for sweetness.
- Regular sugar: Added to the toasted breadcrumbs.
- Eggs: Used for richness and as binder in the dumpling dough.
- Salt: Balances flavors in the dumpling dough.
- Breadcrumbs: Toasted for a crispy coating.
- Cinnamon: Added to breadcrumbs for a touch of spice.
- Powdered Sugar (Optional): A sweet garnish.
- Butter or oil: Used in the breadcrumb coating for richness.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make Plum dumplings (Step by Step)
Step 1. Make the Dough:
- Boil starchy potatoes until tender.
- Mash the potatoes to create a dough.
- Add all-purpose flour, a pinch of salt, and eggs to the mashed potatoes. Mix to form the dumpling dough.
Step 2. Prepare the Breadcrumbs Mixture:
- Toast breadcrumbs in a large pan until golden brown.
- Let the breadcrumbs cool for couple of minutes and add the sugar.
- Add a pinch of cinnamon(optional) to the breadcrumbs. Mix and set aside.
Step 3. Make the Dumplings:
- Flatten a piece of dough into a disc.
- Place a pitted plum with a sugar cube in the center.
- Encase the plum with the dough, ensuring a proper seal.
- Roll the dough and plum on your palm until you get round dumpling.
Step 4. Boil the Dumplings:
- Boil a large pot of salted water until it reaches a boil.
- Gently place the uncooked dumplings into the boiling water.
- Cook until the dumplings float to the surface.
Step 5. Roll Plum Dumplings into the Breadcrumbs Mixture:
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked dumplings.
- Place them on a baking sheet to cool.
- Once cooled, roll the dumplings in the golden brown breadcrumbs mixture for coating.
Step 6. Serve:
- Serve the plum dumplings as a dessert, side dish, or meatless main dish, optionally with a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
How do you prevent plum dumplings from falling apart when boiling?
Select Ripe but Firm Plums: Choose plums that are ripe but still firm. Overly ripe plums can become too soft during cooking and may lead to dumplings falling apart.
Use the Right Dough Consistency: Ensure that the dumpling dough is neither too sticky nor too dry. The ideal dough texture is essential for easy handling and sealing the dumplings effectively.
Properly Seal the Dumplings: When wrapping the plums with the dough, ensure that you seal them thoroughly. Any gaps or openings can allow the plum juices to escape during cooking. Pinch and press the dough together tightly.
Avoid Overfilling: Don't overfill the dumplings with plums. The plum should fit without stretching the dough too thin.
Boil Gently: When boiling the dumplings, use gently simmering water rather than a rolling boil. Excessive agitation from a vigorous boil can cause the dumplings to fall apart.
Use a Slotted Spoon: When transferring the dumplings into the boiling water and when removing them, use a slotted spoon. This gentle handling helps prevent damage.
Watch the Cooking Time: Keep a close eye on the cooking time. Dumplings are ready when they float to the surface, which usually takes 5-7 minutes. Overcooking can lead to them becoming mushy.
Recipe notes + Substitutions
Plum dumplings are a unique and traditional dish, so finding exact substitutions can be challenging. However, if you're looking for best results alternatives, consider the following:
- Fruit Filling Substitutions:
- Apricots or peaches or different plum varieties: These stone fruits can be used as a filling, offering a similar texture and sweetness.
- Dough Substitutions:
- Potatoes: If you want to avoid using potato-based dough, you can explore other dumpling dough recipes, such as using a more traditional pasta or bread dough.
- Coating Substitutions:
- Some variations use ground nuts like almonds or walnuts instead of bread crumbs for a unique texture and flavor.
- Serving Substitutions:
- Instead of the usual sour cream or powdered sugar, experiment with yogurt, ice cream, or whipped cream as toppings.
- While the traditional version is served as a dessert, you can adapt the dumplings into a savory dish by changing the filling and omitting the sugar.
Keep in mind that these substitutions will alter the flavor and texture of the dish, so it's essential to consider personal preferences and dietary restrictions when making changes. Traditional plum dumplings have a unique charm, but there's room for creativity and adaptation to suit your tastes and dietary needs.
Variations of Romanian plum dumplings ("Galuste cu prune" or "Gomboti cu prune")
These variations highlight the regional and cultural diversity of plum dumplings. Each version has its unique twist on the classic dish, making it a delightful treat in various parts of Central and Eastern Europe.
- Czech Plum Dumplings (Knedle ze Śliwkami): In the Czech Republic, these dumplings are made with a potato-based dough and filled with Italian plums. They are often served with a topping of melted butter, sugar, and ground cinnamon.
- Croatian Plum Dumplings (Knedle s Čvarcima): Croatian plum dumplings are made with a potato-based dough and filled with plums. They are usually served with breadcrumbs that have been toasted in a pan with breadcrumbs and sugar.
- Hungarian Plum Dumplings (Szilvás Gombóc): In Hungary, these dumplings are typically made with a potato-based dough, filled with Italian prune plums, and served with breadcrumbs that are caramelized with sugar and butter.
- German Plum Dumplings: German plum dumplings often use a yeast dough and are known as "Zwetschgenknödel." They are filled with Zwetschgen plums and typically served with a vanilla sauce.
- Austrian Plum Dumplings (Zwetschkenknödel): Austrian plum dumplings are similar to the German version and are made with a potato dough filled with plums, served with breadcrumbs and powdered sugar.
- Polish Plum Dumplings (Knedle): In Poland, plum dumplings are made with a potato-based dough, filled with fresh plums, and often served with breadcrumbs and butter.
- Slovak Plum Dumplings (Knedle): Slovak plum dumplings are made with a potato-based dough, filled with plums, and served with a coating of breadcrumbs and sugar.
- Nut Dumplings: Some variations replace breadcrumbs with ground nuts, like walnuts or almonds, for a unique texture and flavor.
- Fruit Variations: Instead of plums, other fruits like apricots, peaches, apples, or berries can be used as the filling, allowing for a range of flavors.
To make plum dumplings, you'll need some basic kitchen tools and utensils:
- Large Pot: For boiling water to cook the dumplings.
- Potato peeler: for easy peel of the potatoes.
- Potato Masher or Potato Ricer: To mash the boiled potatoes for the dough.
- Large Bowl: To mix the dough ingredients and knead the dough.
- Knife and Cutting Board: For slicing and pitting the plums.
- Slotted Spoon: To remove the dumplings from the boiling water.
- Baking Sheet or Plate: To cool the cooked dumplings.
- Pan or Skillet: For toasting breadcrumbs or other coatings.
- Wooden Spoon: For stirring and toasting ingredients in the pan.
- Rolling Pin (optional): If you prefer to roll out the dough before wrapping the plums.
- Floured Board or Surface: For shaping the dumplings and working with the dough.
- Serving Platter: To present the dumplings when serving.
How to store plum dumplings
- Room Temperature: Allow the plum dumplings to cool to room temperature if they are not already. This prevents condensation inside the storage container.
- Refrigeration: If you plan to consume the dumplings within a day or two, you can store them in the refrigerator. Place them in an airtight container or cover them tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
- Freezing: For longer-term storage, freezing is the best option. Place the uncooked plum dumplings on a baking sheet, making sure they don't touch each other. This helps prevent sticking. Freeze them on the baking sheet until they become firm, which usually takes 2-3 hours. Once they are firm, transfer the frozen dumplings to a freezer-safe, airtight container or a freezer bag. Be sure to remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label the container or bag with the date to keep track of freshness.
- Reheating: When you're ready to enjoy the stored plum dumplings, there's no need to thaw frozen dumplings. You can reheat them by gently simmering them in boiling water until they float to the surface (about 5-7 minutes) or by steaming them. Alternatively, you can microwave them with a small amount of water for a few minutes.
- Serving: Serve the reheated plum dumplings as desired rolled in breadcrumbs and cinnamon sugar or other toppings.
Tips & Tricks:
To make delicious plum dumplings, consider these important tips:
- Choose the Right Plums: Select ripe but firm plums, preferably Italian prune plums or small, fresh plums. They should be sweet and slightly tart for the best flavor. Best plums are small European ones (Damson plums or Italian plums) available usually late summer to mid-fall during pick season.
- Proper Dough Consistency: Ensure the dumpling dough is not too sticky or too dry. The right texture is crucial for easy handling and a good final result.
- Seal the Dumplings Well: When encasing the plums with the dough, make sure to seal them properly. This prevents the plum juices from leaking out during cooking.
- Boil Gently: When boiling the dumplings, use gently simmering water to avoid them falling apart. Do not overcrowd the pot, and use a large one to allow room for the dumplings to expand.
- Test for Doneness: Dumplings are ready when they float to the surface. This usually takes about 5-7 minutes, but it can vary, so keep an eye on them.
- Serve Promptly: Plum dumplings are best enjoyed while they are warm and freshly cooked. The combination of hot dumplings and a crispy coating is a key part of their appeal.
- Practice and Patience: If it's your first time making plum dumplings, practice makes perfect. Don't be discouraged if the first batch isn't perfect; the more you make, the better you'll become.
- Fresh Mashed Potatoes: Don't use leftover mashed potatoes for this recipe as they usually have salt, milk, cream or butter.
Gluten-Free Plum Dumplings: For those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, you can make gluten-free plum dumplings by using gluten-free flour, such as rice flour or a gluten-free baking blend. The process remains similar to traditional plum dumplings, but the choice of flour is modified to make the dough gluten-free.
Vegan Plum Dumplings: To create vegan plum dumplings, you can replace dairy-based ingredients like eggs, butter, and sour cream with plant-based alternatives. For example, use a flax or chia seed "egg" as a binder, and coconut oil or a vegan margarine for the dough.
Canned Plums: You can use canned plums or plums in syrup. Drain them well before using as a filling.
Dried Plums (Prunes): Dried plums, commonly known as prunes, can be rehydrated. Soak them in warm water for a few minutes to soften, drain, and then use them as you would fresh plums.
Other Stone Fruits: Consider using other stone fruits like apricots, peaches, or nectarines as a substitute for plums.
Berries: Fresh or frozen berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries, can work well as a filling. Mix them with a small amount of sugar to enhance their sweetness.
Jam or Preserves: Fruit preserves or jam can be used as a filling.
Nut Fillings: Experiment with sweet nut fillings, such as ground walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts mixed with sugar and spices.
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