'Come and eat some gomboc,' my mother would say to me in Hungarian when I was a child. 'Köszönöm, nem kérem,' I would reply, shaking my head vigorously. In my mind I had somehow confused the word gomboc, or dumpling, with the word gomba, which means mushroom in Magyar. And the thought of a mushroom encased in dough and dusted with fried breadcrumbs simply didn't appeal to my very young taste buds.
It wasn't until a friend of my mother served them that I would first try these dumplings. You see, it was impolite to refuse food served to you when you were visiting. Besides, the lady of the house announced them as Szilvás Gombóc and it was at that moment that I made the connection that they were plum dumplings, not mushroom dumplings. What's more, they were nagyon finom, or very delicious! Of course, the next time my mother made gomboc, and from that time onwards, I never said no.
A favourite Hungarian dessert, plum dumplings are mainly prepared when fresh plums are in season, however preserved fruit, plum jam and even pitted prunes can be used. The recipe for Hungarian plum dumplings (Szilvás Gombóc) that I'm sharing with you here is the way my mother taught me many years ago and was written out by me as she cooked them. Try them, for they are seriously good!
12 small plums
6 teaspoons sugar or 12 sugar cubes
For the dough:
2 cups plain (AP) flour
60g/3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups cold cooked mashed potato (made with 3-4 Desiree potatoes)
2 free range eggs, whisked
For the crumb coating:
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
40g unsalted butter, extra
Sour cream or ice cream (optional)
Mirabelle syrup (optional)*
First cook the potatoes in their jackets, then peel away and discard the skins. Finely mash or rice the cooked potatoes (NB: don't add butter or milk) and allow them to completely cool.
Make the crumb coating by combining the 40g butter with the breadcrumbs, sugar and cinnamon in a small pan. Over a low heat, stir until the butter melts and the crumbs are golden brown. Set aside and allow to cool.
Cut the plums half open (see image). Remove and discard the stones. Sprinkle half a teaspoon of sugar (or place one sugar cube) into the centre of each plum. Set aside.
To make the dough for the dumplings, rub the butter into the flour using your fingers. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the cold mashed potato and the whisked eggs. Then, using your hands, mix until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough lightly on a floured bench. Roll out the dough to approximately 1cm (about the thickness of your finger). Now, cut the dough into even-sized squares. Dependent on the size of the plums, this could be around 9cm square or 7cm square for tiny sugar plums. You need the square to be larger than the plum (imagine placing a baby onto a bunny rug). Place a sugared plum onto the centre of each square and 'swaddle' the plum, folding the dough in around the plum, pinch-sealing the dough and smoothing it gently into rounded balls.
Carefully spoon the dumplings into a large pot of water, just a few at a time. Cook slowly for about 10-15 minutes until the dumplings rise to the top of the pot. Make sure they haven't stuck to the bottom of the pan. With a slotted spoon, remove and drain the dumplings, then roll them immediately into the crumb mixture, coating well. Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream or ice cream (if you like) and a drizzle of mirabelle syrup (if you happen to have any at hand). Serves 6.
Note: Should there be any dumplings left over, you can 'zap' them briefly in the microwave the following morning. They will be perfectly good for breakfast!
By the way, my lovely Hungarian friend and fellow cook and blogger, Zsuzsa, shared her recipe for plum dumplings here. Pop in and say hello. For more of my Hungarian recipes, spend some time browsing here.
Desiree potatoes, free range eggs and sweet sugar plums...
Cook the potatoes; sugar the plums, prepare the crumbs...
Prepare the dough and 'swaddle' the plums...
Cook the dumplings...
Serve with mirabelle syrup...
Note: Jonathan Banks at Pialligo Apples makes the best mirabelle syrup. I have asked him for the recipe, please watch this space!
Tell me dear readers, is there a dish you refused to eat when you were little, but now love? And what's your favourite recipe using plums? Do please pop in and leave a comment, you know I love hearing from you. Bizzy Lizzy xox
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.