Traditional Czech cuisine could hardly do without the dumpling, which typically accompanies meat dishes, such as svíčková omáčka or roast pork with cabbage. But there are also ovocné knedlíky, dumplings filled will fruit, that are served as a meal on their own. Find out more about this sweet treat in today’s edition of Czech Food Classics.
Although they seem more like a scrumptious dessert, in Czech homes fruit dumplings are usually served as a full meal and they are a real treat especially for kids. The great thing about fruit dumplings is how versatile they are. They can be made of different kinds of dough and filled with all sorts of fruits, depending on the season.
Czech fruit dumplings are traditionally filled with plums, apricots, strawberries or blueberries and then sprinkled with sugar, grated tvaroh (a hard Czech cream cheese), smothered with melted butter and dusted with cinnamon. Some people prefer to top the dumplings with toasted breadcrumbs or sour cream.
Fruit dumplings are a staple on the menu of Czech restaurants, and the Czech Radio canteen is no exception. We asked its chef Mirek Císař to take us through the process of making ovocné knedlíky.
“We have to make yeast dough, which consists of flour, milk, eggs, yeast, a bit of sugar and a pinch of salt. First we prepare the starter and then mix it with the rest of the ingredients. When the dough rises we roll it flat and cut out little squares, which we wrap around the fruit.
“We have to make sure the fruit is covered really well and then we put the dumplings in boiling water and cook them for approximately twelve minutes. When the dumplings are ready, you should pierce the dough just a little to let the steam out.”
While most fruit dumplings are traditionally made of yeast dough, plum dumplings are often made of potato dough and sprinkled with a mixture of poppy seeds and sugar.
To achieve the best result, however, it is essential to have a just a thin layer of dough and a generous amount of fruit filling. The process may be lengthy, but the result is definitely worth it.
The traditional fruit sauce called ‘žahour’ is made of blueberries and originally comes from South Bohemia, whose forests are abundant with them. Chef Mirek Císař once again:
“Žahour is usually made of blueberries, but it can also be made from other types of fruit. You simply mash the blueberries with sugar and cream and let it boil for a while. You can serve it warm or cold, whatever you prefer.”
There are all sorts of regional varieties of fruit dumplings. In the Krkonoše mountains in the northeast of the country, blueberry dumplings are known as blbouny, while in the Šumava mountains in south Bohemia, you can taste dumplings filled with rum pralines and topped with the traditional blueberry sauce.