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Joel Hicks

How to make excellent quality dumplings, please help.

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I have been experimenting with a recipe for Chicken and Dumplings, which is a great Americana recipe and an all time classic. The taste is excellent, however i cannot seem to nail the dumplings. The Dumpling Recipe that i am using is as follows (from memory, the recipe i am using comes from the America's Test Kitchen Cook Book);

  1. 3 tablespoons of chicken fat
  2. 1 cup of Milk
  3. 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  4. 2 cups of regular all purpose flower
  5. teaspoon of salt

Mix all the dry ingredients together

heat milk and chicken fat together until warm, but not hot, and combine with the dry ingredients using a wooden spoon. Stir with the wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth.

Drop golf-ball size dumplings into the Chicken Broth, and cook until doubled in size (should take about 18 - 20 minutes)

SO, i find that i get, doughy balls, seemingly undercooked, thick and not all too pleasant. I am looking for a light if not fluffy dumpling.

Also, i have to admit I am an Aussie, maybe this is having an effect to on an all American Classic.

Thanks in Advance for your help

Joel

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My mom was an ace dumpling maker. Hers had a biscuity element and her recipe was pretty much this one: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/dumplings/ except that she would have used Crisco (white shortening) instead of marg. I've never been able to make the non-biscuit style dumplings without them coming out like lead balloons.

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The recipe I use is adapted from my Gran's 1923 Purity cookbook; it produces dumplings that are fluffy, light, and always cooked through (so long as I don't peek at them!)

2 C flour (I usually blend 1.5 C white and .5 C quinua for flavour)

3 TSP baking powder

1.5 TSP salt

7/8 C milk (more or less - this depends on your altitude and relative humidity)

Butter the size of a walnut (about 2 oz by my reckoning).

Cut the butter into the flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the milk, mixing just until you've got a stiff but moist batter. Drop into the stew by spoonfuls, put on the lid, and don't peek for about 20 minutes (25-30 at sea level.) I have notes in my gran's spidery handwriting saying that if one peeks, it toughens the dumplings and prevents them from rising properly.

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@Sylvialovegren and annachan, that both for your prompt replies, i will try both of you recipes and get back to you.

however my recipe above is very similar, so i am still very interested in what could possibly go wrong, i am now thinking that my baking powder might not give the enough lift, because everything else is almost identical.

Has anyone heard of defective baking powder??

Thanks

Joel

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Baking powder can go off if you're in a very high-humidity place and it's not sealed in an airtight vessel. I'm not sure exactly what happens with it (since it's basically baking soda plus adjuncts; soda, although it will clump, doesn't go off), but it loses its power to leaven in the presence of high humidity and heat (I learned this the hard way baking in the Amazon). So the question becomes: whereabouts in Australia are you? If you're somewhere humid, like Darwin, you'll need to seal your powder and probably also keep it in the fridge.

The other thing is that if at any time in the cooking process of the dumplings you open the lid to check on them, it's the equivalent of opening the oven in the middle of baking a cake - you're letting heat out, and in the case of the dumplings also steam. That's bound to interfere with the cooking process - it would make the cake fall, and it will definitely make the dumplings heavy and perhaps even increase their cooking time.

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PanCan's grandma's recipe is pretty much the same as mine, just scaled up. I think two things are critical (aside from fresh b.p.) -- a light hand (overmixing is deadly) and not peeking. Then it just takes practice to get everything just right.

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I use the same recipe as the OP with great success (I believe that ATK also recommends this recipe). I've made it probably more than 100 times and it is very reliable. For this reason, I don't think that the recipe is the problem. Perhaps an ingredient or technique is to blame. First, I recommend purchasing new baking powder as that could possibly account for the lack of rise. Second, be sure to mix the dry ingredients together well, then add the wet ingredients quickly, stirring as little as possible (I use a fork). Just bring the mixture together as best you can without any extra stirring. I don't mix the wet and dry ingredients together until I'm ready to drop the dumplings into the broth. Third, once you drop the dumplings onto the simmering liquid, put the lid on tightly and absolutely do not peek for at least 14 minutes. After 14 minutes, take a peek. If they look like they need more cooking, put the lid back on for another 2-3 minutes. I'd be very surprised if you are unable to get this recipe to work. Good luck!

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You may also be mixing too much. Drop dumplings are like muffins in that you don't want to develop too much gluten. Try mixing so that it barely comes together next time and see if you get a better result.

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I use self rising flour. I think it makes lighter dumplings and biscuits at least partially because it's a lower protein flour. I'm also partial to adding some sage to my dumplings. Make it like your recipe or the others, just leaving out the leavening because it's included in self rising flour.

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Has anyone heard of defective baking powder??

Both heat and moisture can "pre-react" your baking powder. Drop some in hot water and see if it fizzes. Lots of bubbles is a good sign. No bubbles means it's toast.

Also, is it possible that your milk is getting too hot? Chicken fat melts around 75F/24C, so I'd try it around 80F/27C. Double-acting baking powder will generate gas once when you get it wet, then again when you get it hot, and if you're getting both effects at once, then stirring vigorously to make the mixture smooth - you might be beating the gas right out.

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Has anyone heard of defective baking powder??

Both heat and moisture can "pre-react" your baking powder. Drop some in hot water and see if it fizzes. Lots of bubbles is a good sign. No bubbles means it's toast.

Also, is it possible that your milk is getting too hot? Chicken fat melts around 75F/24C, so I'd try it around 80F/27C. Double-acting baking powder will generate gas once when you get it wet, then again when you get it hot, and if you're getting both effects at once, then stirring vigorously to make the mixture smooth - you might be beating the gas right out.

I am only heating the milk to around 30 C.

I think now from all the above posts, and from looking at the links provided above the key to making successful dumplings is as follows

  1. Ensure your baking powder is active and has not expired
  2. Do not overwork the batter/dough when combining the wet with the dry. Think Muffins or scones.
  3. Don't lift the lid on the pot/casserole whilst the dumplings are simmering.
  4. It seems that the average cooking time is anywhere between 15 - 20 mins (i am going for 18 mins)

I am going to give the recipe another go this weekend and ill post the results.

Any other tips from Dumpling masters, keep them coming.

Thanks for your help and suggestions so far.

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Everyone else has given you good tips. I do agree with the Tyler Florence recipe that uses buttermilk instead of regular milk. I use buttermilk in all quick (i.e. non yeast risen) breads and really like the flavor and texture it produces.

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I have always used Bisquick :blush: for dumplings; the buttermilk is built in as is the leavening. I'll add poultry seasoning, or thyme if theyare going with chicken, garlic and/or onion powder and parsley for beef, cinnamon and or nutmeg if I have a fruit base, etc. No gripes yet, and I've done this for yonks! :wink: (Use recipe on package, and stir in seasonings to dry mix berore adding liquid to avoid overmixing.) Dried chives are a great addition for the savory dumplings, too!

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Dumplings have been a success!! thanks all for your help. I think the key ti good dumplings is a light hand (dont over mix, think muffin dough consistency), and fresh baking powder.

Here is how it went.

IMG_0571.jpg

Mis en place

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Rendering off fat for the dumplings and caremelizing the chicken for flavour.

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Secret ingredient

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everyone in the pool, carrots, onions, celery, zuchini, thyme, garlic, chilli, and chicken stock about 3 litres

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I add the chicken thighs after removing the skin (leaving the bone in also) under pressure for about 30 mins.

IMG_0583.jpg

dumpling mix, i added some of the rendered chicken fat to the mix, about 2 tablespoons, 2 cups of flour, tbs baking powder, 1 tsp salt, generous sprinkling of fresh thyme and i added milk a little at a time till i guo to a muffin dough consistency, thick wet and sticky.

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drop the dumpling batter into the chicken broth.

IMG_0587.jpg

dumplings now cooked, sprinkled with parsley, and ready to eat. i cooked them for 20 mins, lid on no peeking.

IMG_0588.jpg

perfection, light and fluffy and flavourful.

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Yay! Also yum!

You can do it Sylvia, no more lead ballons, we have unlocked the secret!

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