Dumplings are very easy to make – you know the wonderfully sticky things made from suet and flour that adorn the best of country stews? But lovely though they are, it is all too easy to forget old fashioned dough balls – thick, luscious bread that is steamed above the stock.
I sometimes do this if I am having a bread making day, putting aside some of the dough to use for the stew or soup that night.
They are very easy to make, though obviously not as fast as suet dumplings.
These would be a prime candidate for my fantasy tavern, I think.
Make bread dough from the above ingredients. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk (assuming you are using fresh yeast, or follow the instructions on the packet).
Add salt and dried herbs to the flour and mix. Add the yeasted milk and olive oil (melted butter is fun too) and then mix and knead as with any bread.
Just like with making a loaf, knead it really well for a good ten minutes or more, or eight minutes in a big dough mixer. Leave it to rise till it doubles in size - about an hour or so.
Knock it back to get all the gasses out of the dough, then knead for another few minutes. Set aside for ten minutes and then make as many small dough balls (bit smaller than golf balls) as you wish, rolling them in your hands with flour. If you have dough left, make up some rough bread or something with it. All adds to the occasion.
BIG NOTE! These swell up a lot, so don’t overfill the pan.
When your stew is about an hour from finished, put the dough balls on top, just sitting in the gravy. Put the lid back on and bung it back in the oven.
The dough balls will soak up the stock and swell and cook. Once they are cooked, remove the from the stew, place on a baking tray and crisp them up a little in a very hot oven.
They will already be flavoured by the stew having soaked up some of the sauce.
Once cooked, these can also be kept for the next day, crisped up and served with soup. Really, just mess around with the idea. They could also work with a curry!