Friday, November 06, 2015

Dumplets or Dumplings?

I love coming across a new (to me) food word, so I was delighted to come across a fine example recently in the German Cookery section of The Magazine of Domestic Economy (London, 1840.)

Cream Dumplets, with Parmesan
Put half a pint of sweet cream into a saucepan with a good spoonful of butter, set it on the fire, and as soon as the cream begins to boil, beat in four spoonfuls of flour and mix together into a dough until it leaves the sides of the saucepan. When quite cold, work up this dough with four or five eggs, until it is neither too thick nor too thin, for if the consistence be not exactly right, the balls in the former state of the dough will be too hard, and in the latter fall to pieces. Cut off the dough for the balls with a spoon dipped each time in milk, and plunge them overhead in three pints of boiling milk, kept ready on the fire: keep them covered, but take care not to let the milk boil over, and when the balls rise to the surface they will be done. These dumplets are to be served on a dish on which Parmesan cheese is sprinkled, with melted-butter poured over them and Parmesan again above this, and the whole browned in a moderate oven, or with a hot shovel.

So, a dumplet is, quite simply, a dumpling by another name. I don’t know whether to be disappointed, or to be inspired to coin a new name for an old concept, in the hope it gets picked up by the Oxford English Dictionary.

In fact, the OED has not discovered the dumplet, although it does include:

dumple, v.
a. [nonce-formation from dumpling.] trans. To make or cook, as a dumpling. Obs.
b. [? < dumpy adj.2] To bend or compress into a dumpy shape.

I assume the cook who coined the word wished to suggest a rather special, perhaps lighter, perhaps richer, version of the dumpling, which even the OED imbues with ideas of stodgy solidity.

a. A kind of pudding consisting of a mass of paste or dough, more or less globular in form, either plain and boiled, or enclosing fruit and boiled or baked.

To help you to dumple your next batch of dumplings, may I also give you the following recipe?

Light Dumplings.
Mix together as much grated bread, butter and beaten egg (seasoned with powdered cinnamon) as will make a stiff paste. Stir it well. Make the mixture into round dumplings, with your hands well-floured. Tie up each in a separate cloth, and boil them a short time, about fifteen minutes. Eat them with wine sauce, or with molasses and butter.

Miss Leslie’s Complete Cookery (Philadelphia, 1851)

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