As a child I would beg my Austrian grandmother to make these as soon as prune plums showed up in the markets in late summer. More than anything, I adored the golden, buttery breadcrumbs and would heap them on to the zwetschgenknödel in alarming quantities. I'd like to think that my taste buds have matured, but I still can't get enough of those breadcrumbs! - aschindler
Ideally, these are made with Italian prune plums, which are smaller and firmer than ordinary plums, and are usually available from August to October. If you can’t find prune plums, regular plums will work. Just plan on fewer, larger zwetschgenknödel. Unable to find any plums in April, I most recently made these with good quality dried prunes, soaked in warm water before using, and they made a decent substitute.
Test Kitchen Notes
I was definitely intimidated by the idea of dumplings and it didn’t help that this was Oma’s recipe! I didn’t want to mess this up. As this is not the right time of year for fresh prunes, I followed aschindler’s advice and used dried prunes. I used Oma’s method of grating the potatoes with a box grater and worked carefully not to overmix so I wouldn’t have a heavy dumpling. I ended up using just under 2/3 cup flour to get the dumplings to the right consistency. The assembly is a bit time-consuming, but satisfying because it feels really homey to make dumplings. And, it was magic to watch the dumplings go from lumps under the surface of the water to floating pillows after about 15 minutes. With the crunchy breadcrumbs, sugar and cinnamon, they were yummy and satisfying. This was fun and I’d definitely try them again! - Stirnourish —Stirnourish
medium russet potatoes
fresh prune plums, pitted (or 6 regular plums, or 12 high-quality dried prunes, soaked in warm water)
Place 2-3 whole, unpeeled potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water, and put on the stove on high. Boil until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and allow to cool until cool enough to handle.
Peel and gently mash the boiled potatoes. My grandmother likes to grate hers with a box grater, but you can also pass them through a food mill or use a potato masher or fork. Over-mashing will lead to heavy dumplings, so be gentle.
Add egg and a pinch of salt to the potatoes and mix just enough to combine.
Begin adding the flour, starting with ¼ cup. You should add just enough flour to form a firm, malleable dough. The amount will depend on the size and water content of your potatoes and egg. Last time I used about 2/3 cup.
Form the dumplings. For each dumpling, take a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll it gently in your palms to form a rough ball. Then use your thumb to create a deep indentation in the center of the ball. Place a plum in the indentation and use your fingers to mold the dough around the plum. Be sure to completely envelope the plum in dough.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Gently drop the dumplings into the water, making sure that they aren’t too crowded. Boil, over high heat, until the dumplings all float to the top, about 15 minutes. Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon.
Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until the breadcrumbs are golden and fragrant.
To serve, split the zwetschgenknödel and top with plenty of breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon to taste.