There is hardly anything that Germans like more than their beloved potatoes.
They are part of both traditional and modern recipes, sweet and savory dishes, served as a side or as a main course. They get roasted, baked, grilled, boiled, riced, diced, grated, deep-fried or formed into different shapes, like these special dumplings.
The Swabians – who are also the originators of spaetzle as well as Maultaschen Ravioli “Pockets”– first made schupfnudeln popular. The Swabian region has had a huge impact on Germany’s food traditions.
As is quite often the case in Germany, the dish is known by different (and often funny) names in different areas, schopperla or buwespitzle for example.
But the most popular name – schupfnudeln – combines the cooking technique with their appearance. Schupf means something like “rolling,” while the term nudel is a form of knoedel and comes, from acommon stem of old German words that describes foods with a bulbous shape.
Traditionally, they are formed by hand. The dumplings are quick to prepare, and a nice side dish for savory meals. As the dumplings themselves have quite a neutral flavor, you can actually combine them with almost anything you like, unlike the classic German dumpling recipe.
That could be any kind of vegetable, meat or fish, but also applesauce, custard or stewed fruit. For the savory variety, it’s best when you roast or toss them in a pan in which you already prepared a part of your meal, so that they can sop up the flavor.
That’s not to say that there aren’t any dumpling recipes geared towards the saccharine: such as the sweet treat southern German Dampfnudel dumpling!
The dumplings are a fancy-looking alternative to pasta, rice or regular potatoes. There is no universal recipe for the dish, as there are many different local versions of how to prepare the dough.
When the potato first came to Europe and Germany in the 17th century, people started developing the recipe with the use of riced potatoes for the dumplings, and it became a popular alternative instead of wheat or rye flour.
They are somewhat akin to the Italian gnocchi potato dumplings, although we like to claim that they were (of course) developed in Germany first.
Because few ingredients are required, it is easy to prepare them from scratch. Try to find starchy potatoes, as they are the best choice for this recipe. Due to their high amount of starch, they can be processed easily with a potato ricer, and hold together perfectly when formed into dumplings.
The following recipe is a wonderful variety, made with sage and butter. It is a great side dish for serving with meat or chicken.
Make it a main meal by roasting the dumplings together with some vegetables, and mix with them with homemade tomato sauce to enjoy a healthy pasta-style stir fry.
This recipe calls for freshly ground nutmeg. If you’re having trouble sourcing the fresh variety, then check out Foodal’s article on the subject.
Photos by Nina-Kristin Isensee, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Nina-Kristin Isensee
Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.