Norfolk Dumplings

These dumplings are a filling accompaniment to a beef stew, especially if seasoned and flavoured with a teaspoon of herbs.

Norfolk Dumplings may also be left plain, and served with jam, honey sauce or brown sugar and melted butter.

If they are to be served with a stew they should be cooked in stock in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Sweet dumplings may be boiled in water or they may be steamed, but either way the lid of the pan must be tight-fitting and should not be removed before the cooking time is completed.

½ oz. fresh yeast teaspoon sugar

7 fl. oz. lukewarm water

12 oz. flour

1 teaspoon salt

Crumble the yeast into a small mixing bowl and mash in the sugar with a kitchen fork. Add

1 tablespoon of the water and cream the water and yeast together to form a smooth paste. Set the bowl aside in a warm, draught-free place for

15 to

20 minutes, or until the yeast mixture has risen and is puffed up and frothy.

Sift the flour and the salt into a warmed, large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture and the remaining water. Using your fingers or a spatula gradually draw the flour into the water and yeast mixture. Continue mixing until all the flour is incorporated and the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out on to a floured board or marble slab and knead it for about 8 minutes, reflouring the surface if the dough becomes sticky. The dough should be elastic and smooth.

Rinse, thoroughly dry and lightly grease the large mixing bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl.

Dust the top of the dough with a little flour and cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth. Set the bowl in a warm, draught-free place and leave it for 1 to 1 -i-hours, or until the dough has risen and almost doubled in bulk.

Turn the risen dough out of the bowl on to a floured surface and knead for 4 minutes. Break off small pieces of dough and roll them into 1-inch balls between the palms of your hands. Set the dough balls aside and keep warm.

Half fill a large saucepan with hot water and place it over high heat. Place the dough balls in a steamer, making sure they do not touch each other. If the dough balls will not fit in one layer, cut out a circle of greaseproof or waxed paper slightly smaller than the circumference of the steamer, grease it on both sides with a little vegetable oil and use it to divide the dough balls. Cover the steamer. If the lid does not fit tightly, place a strip of aluminium foil around the edge of the steamer so that it does.

Place the steamer over the saucepan of hot water. When the water boils reduce the heat to moderate so that the water simmers.

Steam the dumplings for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove ‘the lid from the steamer, take out one dumpling and break it. The dumpling should be light and open-textured. If the dumpling is slightly under-cooked in the centre, cover the steamer again and steam for a further 4 minutes.

Remove the steamer from the heat. Transfer the dumplings to a warmed serving dish and serve immediately.

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