German Sweet Dumplings – Sweet, enriched dough is rolled into balls and steamed in a milk bath until fluffy and chewy. Served with a vanilla crème anglaise.
Today’s recipe is a recreation of a dessert I had the first day of our trip to Munich. It was about 6 years ago and my first time in Germany. I was so excited to try all the beers, but I had no idea what other foods Germany was known for. When I saw sweet dumplings on the menu, I just had to give them a shot.
When they came out, I was amazed. The dumplings were huge and sitting in a vanilla sauce. I loved how fluffy they were with just a hint of sweetness from the vanilla sauce. In my version, I also serve the dumplings with a dollop of blackberry preserves to add some tartness. It really sets the dumplings off!
Here are my German Sweet Dumplings!
Making the dough
The dough for the dumplings is my classic enriched dough. It’s the same dough I use for cinnamon rolls. It has the perfect amount of sweetness and very little fat.
This dough starts by scalding the milk. This removes the excess protein, which helps the bread grow. It’s added to the rest of the ingredients and then kneaded to form the dough.
The dough is kneaded some more to get the dough soft and elastic. It’s left to rise for about 90 minutes.
Forming the dumplings
After the dough has risen, it’s punched down and then separated into 8 equal pieces. Each piece is rolled into a ball and placed on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart from any other dough balls. They are covered with plastic wrap and left to rise for 30 minutes.
Making the sauce
The vanilla sauce can be made while the dough rises. It’s basically the same as making a vanilla ice cream base. It starts with half cream and half milk that gets warmed. An egg yolk gets whisked with sugar, vanilla bean paste, and a pinch of salt. The warmed milk mixture is whisked into the egg mixture very slowly. This tempers the egg without scrambling it.
The mixture then is placed into a saucepan and set over medium heat. This will slightly thicken the sauce and cook the yolk. Only cook until the mixture can coat the back of a spoon, not any more than that.
Steaming the dumplings
Once the dumplings have risen, it’s time to steam them. The steam is created from a milk bath at the bottom of a skillet or braising dish. Once the milk bath is hot, the dumplings are placed on top of it, set to medium-low temperature, and covered to steam them for about 20 minutes.
Once they are cooked through, they are served with vanilla sauce and blackberry preserves.
Tips & Tricks
- Don’t overcook the sauce. Cook the sauce just until it start to coat the back of the spoon and not much more than that. Otherwise, the yolk in the sauce will scramble and turn the sauce lumpy.
- Don’t crowd the dumplings. The dumplings will grow as they cook so don’t stuff them in the pan. If they all don’t fit, split into two pans or steam in batches.
- Monitor the steaming temperature. Make sure to keep the temperature on medium-low or low or else you’ll cook the liquid too fast and it will evaporate before the buns are done cooking.
- The buns may stick to the bottom of the pan. The buns may stick to the bottom of the pan, but that’s okay! You can just scrape them off and then into the vanilla crème anglaise. No one cares that the bottoms aren’t smooth and perfect.
German Sweet Dumplings
For the dough:
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons warm water
- 3 ¾ – 4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup blackberry preserves for serving
For the steaming liquid:
- ⅔ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the creme anglaise:
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- First we will begin making the dough. Heat up milk in a small sauce pan until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat and add sugar and salt and stir. Let it cool down to lukewarm to the touch. While milk is cooling, proof the yeast by adding the warm water and yeast in a small bowl and stirring together. Let it activate by setting it aside for 10 minutes.
- Once milk is cool, add to a large bowl, along with 3 ½ cups of the flour, 2 tablespoons of oil, eggs, and yeast mixture. Stir together with a wooden spoon until combined. The dough will be very thick but still pretty wet and sticky.
- Place ¼ cup of flour on the surface of your counter. Place dough on top of it and begin kneading the dough with the flour until all the flour is mixed into the dough. Keep kneading for about 4-5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If it starts to stick to the counter, add a little more flour. Once you finish kneading, shape into a ball. Lightly grease another large bowl and place the ball of dough into bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for 1 ½ hours, where it will be double the size. I like to place mine in the microwave to keep it away from any cool draft from the A/C.
- Once dough has risen, punch it down with your fist and remove from the bowl. Lightly dust your counter with flour and place the dough on top. Cut dough into 4 even slices. Cut each slice into 2 even pieces. You should have 8 even pieces. Roll each piece into an even ball. Place on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 30 mins.
- While the dough rises again, make the vanilla creme anglaise. Heat milk, cream and vanilla bean paste in a small sauce pan until scalding. While it heats, whisk egg yolk, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Slowly mix scalded milk into egg yolk mixture. Return to the sauce pan and heat just until the miture coats the back of the spoon. It will have thickened a little but still be runny. Remove from heat to let it cool. Strain the sauce to remove any lumps before serving.
- Once the buns are done rising, place a large braising dish or skillet on the stove (make sure you have a lid for the pan). Add milk, sugar, and butterand whisk together. Heat over medium-low heat until the butter has melted. Add all 8 buns to the pan with the liquid. If all the buns don't fit, split into two batches or two pans. Cover and let steam for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vanilla sauce over the top or to the serving dish. Serve dumplings with blackberry preserves.