Dumplings; flour, fat, milk, baking powder, maybe spices, herbs or sugar, sometimes boiled, baked or steamed, dropped or filled. It seems as if some form of dumpling can be found in cuisines around the world. Polish perogies, Chinese pot stickers, Jewish matzo balls and kreplach, Italian ravioli, German spaetzle, Latin American empanadas, American chicken and dumplings, and in Canada, caramel dumplings from the Dutch Oven cookbook from Lunenburg Nova Scotia. But how did they end up here? United Empire Loyalists? German, Irish, Scottish or English settlers to Upper Canada? Likely all of them brought there own idea of a dumpling, then based on what settlers had available locally, and then ” ta da” regional variations like the Lunenburg recipe.
But dumplings as a dessert are disappearing, They’re not gluten free, definitely on the sweet side and not cute like a cupcake, but they can be delicious and are a perfect winter dessert.
If we are serious about eating seasonally, this is the type of food that our grandparents ate in the winter; does it make sense to buy “fresh” raspberries, blueberries and strawberries in Canada in the winter? The berries have been sprayed with something so that they’ll survive the thousand mile journey in an unheated truck to arrive in our grocery stores in the winter months. And the taste? Why bother? Dumplings are inexpensive and easy to make, The result is impressive. Make them, eat them, just not every night, but every now and then on a cold winter day, and the berries? We’ll save them for June.
Caramel Dumplings from Dutch Oven, a Cook Book of coveted, traditional Recipes from the from the Kitchens of Lunenburg, pub.1953
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2 tbsp. butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup milk
Sauce-In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add brown sugar and butter, stir until both are melted and combined. Add water, stir and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, remove from heat and carefully pour into a buttered, oven0proof shallow casserole dish or 8″ square greased pan. Keep warm, in the preheated oven.
Dumplings-In a medium bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, stir with a fork to blend. then using your fingers, cut in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Using a fork, stir in the milk, mix until a thick batter is formed. Remove prepared pan of sauce from the oven and then using your hands, carefully place pieces of dough on top, probably 8 pieces. Return to oven and bake until golden brown and fragrant, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve warm with lightly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.