Like pie crust, the challenge of rolled dumplings is to make light and tasty dough that still stands up, structurally speaking. Unlike pie crust, there is no juicy filling to hide a poorly constructed dumpling -- after being rolled, cut and plopped into simmering liquid, they are on their own. Consider these tips for rolling dumplings both delectable and durable.
Ties That Bind
Your dough recipe is crucial: Your dumplings may be falling apart because the dough needs something more to stay afloat. Shortening is more pliable than butter, making it easier to form cohesive dough. Consider swapping the butter with shortening or using a combination of the two ingredients for a perfect mix of durability and buttery taste. Lightly brush the dough with whisked egg white to more effectively glue the dough together, while keeping it light and airy.
A Smooth Transition
It is easier to keep the dumplings whole if you make sure the cooking liquid has reached a simmer -- this allows their bottoms to set more quickly. Sprinkling the dumplings lightly with flour before you add them to the pot also helps. Do not stir the liquid, as this will cause your dumplings to fall apart. For light and airy dumplings, wrap a kitchen towel around the cover of the pot, cover the pot and cook. This will soak up excess moisture and prevent sogginess.
Dumplings cook more easily in thinner liquids, so if you are having trouble refining your dumpling technique, try your hand at dumpling soups before you move on to stews. Another trick is to refrigerate the dumpling dough before you form it into balls, about 15 minutes, as you would with a pie crust before baking. This helps the ingredients bind before you drop them in the hot broth. If your recipe uses water or milk, warming the liquid slightly helps bind the dough.
Why Not Drop It
You could always try a less traditional, Southern approach to dumplings by dropping them, biscuit style. Once your stew or soup is simmering, mix flour with baking soda and salt in a bowl, using a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda for every cup of flour. Incorporate warm milk and butter, about 5 1/2 parts milk to each part butter. Use two spoons to scoop out the dough balls and "drop" them Into the simmering pot.
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