Eggs, flour, milk and water–mixed together will get you a batter-like dough that is easily turned into the little boiled dumplings known as Spätzle [ shpéts’l ] . Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Switzerland all claim them as one of their culinary specialities. And all may do so on the good authority of having made Späztle well for a long time.
In any of these countries, a Spätzle Maker is a common kitchen utensil, often sold in the kitchen gadget section of the supermarket. It’s a simple device with a square holder that fits on top of a metal rectangular plate that resembles a flat grater with a handle. Filling the holder with batter and slicing it back and forth over the metal plate presses small blobs of dough down through the holes and into a pot of boiling water where they cook and float to the surface–transformed into…Spätzle.
Instructions directed to an American audience usually assume the absence of a Spätzle Maker in the reader’s kitchen and suggest passing the dough through the holes of a colander or a flat, coarse-holed grater into a pot of boiling water. (An adept Swiss housewife, cooking in the old style, can pour a batch of Spätzle dough onto a cutting board and flick bits of it straight from it into the pot using a knife. The diplomatickitchen tried this method–once–without success. It would take practice or an exceptional feel for the enterprise to perfect this technique.)
A far simpler and, in the long run, more profitable choice than using a homemade contrivance is to purchase a Spätzle Maker. A very good one may be bought online from Amazon (for example) for $10. With it, Spätzle-making becomes a simple routine, rather than a one-time cooking experiment.
And you will have permanently expanded your range of menu options so that, where once, one might have chosen between potatoes or noodles, now, you may sometimes opt for little dumplings instead.
Golden Spätzle (for 4 – 6 or 8 – 10 people)
Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF.
Note: Ingredients are given in quantities for 4 – 6 people and for 8 – 10 people.
Quantities of Ingredients for 4 – 6 people:
- 2 cups of all-purpose Flour
- 2 large Eggs: ‘Large’ is not really a standard size and the term here is used to give a general idea that big eggs are preferable to small ones in making Spätzle.
- 1/2 cup of Milk
- 1/4 cup of Water
- freshly ground Nutmeg
- freshly ground Black Pepper and Salt
- 3 Tablespoons of butter for sauteing the dumplings to make Golden Spätzle or for mixing in with boiled Spätzle–a perfectly good alternative option
Quantities of Ingredients for 8 – 10 people:
- 4 cups of all-purpose Flour
- 4 large Eggs: ‘Large’ is better, but it’s a vague term and is only used to give a general idea of an ideal size. In fact, any size egg willl still produce Spätzle.
- 1 cup of Milk
- 1/2 cup of Water
- freshly ground Nutmeg
- freshly ground Black Pepper and Salt
- a mixer, standing or hand
- a sifter
- 2 bowls (This includes the bowl of the standing mixer if one is used. The recipe directions assume the the use of a standing mixer, but a hand mixer is fine.)
- a Spätzle Maker: a colander or a flat, coarse-holed grater placed over a pot of boiling water are two options which some people use instead of a Spätzle Maker
- a deep pot: one that you would use for cooking pasta will work well
- a colander for draining the cooked Spätzle
- a wide, heavy-bottomed pan, preferably with a non-stick surface, for sauteeing the cooked Spätzle or for coating the boiled Spätzle with butter if it is not sauteed
1. Sift the flour into a bowl.
2. Beat the eggs in the mixer’s bowl. Mix in the milk.
3. Still beating, gradually add about 1/2 of the sifted flour.
4. Continue beating and add the water…then, in a stream, the rest of the flour.
5. Add some grated nutmeg (the amount dependent upon how much you like its flavour) and several grinds of fresh black pepper and salt. The dough’s consistency will be elastic; it will jiggle with any movement of the bowl…
…and will stretch out into a ribbon:
6. Fill a large pot about 3/4 full with water and bring the water to a boil. (The steps for cooking the Spätzle are illustrated using a Spätzle Maker, but are essentially the same if a colander or a flat coarse-holed grater is used instead.)
7. Place the Spätzle Maker over the mouth of the pot and, with a measuring cup or any other conveniently-sized cup, ladle some dough into the square holder…Take your time. Spätzle is not finicky:
8. The dough will begin to drop through the holes of the Spätzle Maker’s metal plate into the boiling water…
…and if the dough has turned out a bit thicker than the pictured one, it will still go through the holes into the pot as the holder–scraping across the holes–presses down on the dough and clips it off in bit-sizes.
9. Run the holder back and forth over the holes. Give the pot of the cooking dough/ dumplings a stir with a wooden spoon now and again to keep the bits of dough separate and prevent clumping. Add more dough as the holder empties until you have run all of it through the Spätzle Maker.
10. The drops of dough sink to the bottom of the boiling water and rise (within a couple of minutes) to the surface when they’re done:
11. When all the dough has been used, give the pot of Spätzle a last stir to make sure all the dough has cooked and separated into dumplings. The finished Spätzle look like little wrinkled clouds:
12. Drain the Spätzle into a colander and briefly rinse them with cold water to separate them. The Spätzle may either be sauteed to make Golden Spätzle or (as pictured here) heated briefly in butter after they are boiled without colouring them:
13. To saute the Spätzle for Golden Spätzle, melt the butter in the pan over medium heat. Add the Spätzle and let it cook for a few minutes without stirring or flipping it about, to allow the dumplings to dry a little and brown on the bottom. Then, with a wooden spoon or spatula, loosen the dumplings from the bottom of the pan and flip them about to separate them and to brown a little in other places..
…The finished Spätzle are…here–crisp and golden…there–white and soft:
14. If the Spätzle aren’t served right away, cover them partially and reheat them gently later:
A Note: Golden Spätzle is served with Veal in White Wine and Cream Sauce with Morels ~ Geschnetzeltes Kalbfleisch in the Dinner Menu: An Evening with the Classics.
© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2012