Perfect gluten free dumplings are delicious and easy to make.
Dumplings are perhaps the most universal comfort food found, in one form or another, in most every country. Recipes are as diverse as are the cultures from which they originate.
They go way, way back in history to humble beginnings in poor households where cooks used cheap, starchy ingredients to stretch meager meals as far as possible in order to fill the stomachs of their hungry families.
Over time, these simple standbys became today’s “comfort food”.
What are Dumplings?
Dumplings are pieces of cooked batter or dough sometimes stuffed with a filling. They can be steamed, fried, baked, roasted, boiled, deep fried, toasted or simmered.
Some of the more well-known dumplings are pot stickers, gnocchi, empanadas, wontons, gnocchi, pierogi, gyoza, kreplach, ravioli, matzah balls, tamales and spaetzle; there are many, many more.
In the United States, dumplings are made with a biscuit based dough, such as in American’s favorite comfort food, Chicken Fricassee, Chicken and Dumplings or desserts, such as peach cobbler.
Gluten Free Dumplings are Easy to Make . . . Right?
When I began my quest for the perfect gluten free dumpling, I thought it would be an easy “first try”.
I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Most of my attempts resulted in a fragile dough that disintegrated when dropped onto chicken stew making very thick, starchy, lumpy gravy . . . yuck!
When I finally achieved the semblance of a lump of dough, the gluten free dumpling was a flavorless gummy mass that stuck to our teeth like muddy clay cloys to rubber boots--it piles up and won’t let go. We couldn’t swallow it for fear of choking.
Then, there was the dreaded metallic aftertaste I couldn’t shake off.
I tried gluten-free flour after flour.
On and on and on the recipe testing went. I thought I’d never master the art of gluten free dumpling-making.
One day I woke up and I knew! I knew what I had to do to make the perfect gluten free dumpling!
First, I had to toss out store-bought baking powder in order to get rid of the horrible metallic aftertaste and use Gluten-free Baking Powder instead.
Then, I added an egg to the dough. This was a key change.
The egg imitates gluten in order to develop structure, part of the fluffy moist, but dry (not gummy) “crumb” I was looking for. Egg also imitates gluten by acting as a binder to hold the dough together so it doesn't fly apart when dropped onto bubbling stew, soup or broth.
Even more important, the egg helped the dough to raise more, and added a depth of flavor and color otherwise missing from rice based flour blends.
In order to achieve a more tender flaky “crumb”, I added a little more butter.
Then, I adjusted for the liquid in the egg by reducing the measure of milk and corrected the salt measure to balance the sodium in the homemade baking powder.
Perfect gluten free dumplings!
So, I did the ultimate test. I served them to my unsuspecting dinner guests.
When compared side-by-side, my discerning guests couldn't tell which dumplings were gluten-free from those made with all purpose wheat flour.
I asked my guests which dumplings they liked best.
To my surprise, their choice was unanimous! They preferred the gluten free dumplings over the wheat flour dumplings!
So, I asked them what it was about those dumplings they liked better. All cited the texture, tender “crumb” and pleasing flavor.
Were they ever surprised to find out their dumpling of choice was gluten-free!
Secrets to Perfect Gluten Free Dumplings
By Cat McMahon
Perfect gluten-free dumplings are easy to make when you have a no-fail recipe consisting of the right ingredients and cooking techniques!
1. In a medium mixing bowl, blend dry ingredients together.
2. Using a pastry cutter, cut in cold butter until mixture resembles cornmeal.
3. In a small bowl, beat the egg until frothy, and then whisk in the milk until blended.
4. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
5. Drop dumpling dough by tablespoonfuls onto simmering gravy, sauce, soup or stew.
6. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes.
7. Cover and cook for 15 minutes longer.
8. Serve hot.
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