I am pretty certain most people have never heard of schupfnudeln before…and I am equally confident my new pumpkin version is even more anonymous!
This lack of attention does not bother me…in fact, I rather enjoyed serving this unknown entity recently to curious friends, and I really enjoyed making them in our monthly what’s in season cooking class and watching the happy participants devour the little pumpkin dumplings. These recent food experiences were a refreshing reminder of my first encounter with schupfnudeln while working in Kaiser’s Reblaube about ten years ago, and why they remain one of my favorite recipes.
I was working the entremetier station and in charge of all vegetables and starches. I was not terribly experienced in European products at that time and I didn’t feel too confident as I checked the new menu the chef had recently posted on the kitchen white board. Schupfnudeln? What were these, I asked myself…and furthermore, how do you pronounce it? One of the other cooks told me they were a lot like potato gnocchi…just shaped differently. I was relieved to hear this news because I just finished working several months in Italy and I was quite sure I could make some dazzling gnocchi.
I quickly found out schupfnudeln were not the same as gnocchi…they were much more difficult to master. They were also incredibly popular and irresistible with the guests and kitchen staff, which meant I needed to make them every single day for a couple of months.
Schupfnudeln are made with the same basic ingredients as potato gnocchi (potatoes, flour, egg yolk) but, with different proportions and with a slight addition of baking powder. They also need to be ‘poached’ as soon as the all of the ingredients are made, which of course adds a bit of stress in a small and busy kitchen. The biggest difference is the shape, which is oblong with tapered ends – a shape which is achieved by quickly pushing the little dumplings between your hands (the word schupf means to push or shove, which is exactly what you would do to properly form the dumpling). Ideally, the schupfnudeln are ‘pushed’ directly into a pot of poaching water and allowed to gently cook for 3-5 minutes. Once poached, the schupfnudeln are coated in oil to keep them from sticking together, then finally sautéed in butter over medium-high heat until they take on a crispy brown skin while maintaining a moist interior. This classic southern German preparation is often served as an accompaniment to roasted wild meat dishes…or simply enjoyed as is with a few sprinkles of sea salt.
One of my favorite recipes, and now even more mouthwatering! We like serving pumpkin schupfnudeln with a tomato-walnut tapenade or with sage-infused oil…but like their potato cousins, they are really quite good sautéed in olive oil and topped with fleur de sel.
How to Make Pumpkin Schupfnudeln
Start by making your purées. Use an starchy orange pumpkin variety like the orange knirps or a good quality butternut squash for the purée. You will need 250 grams of purée, which means you will need about one kilogram of pumpkin. Peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds and cut the flesh into 1-cm chunks. Toss with a bit of olive oil and salt, then roast in a 200° C oven for about 20 minutes – the pumpkin should be very soft. Place all of the pumpkin in a food processor and process until smooth, then push the purée through a strainer. Reserve. Make the smooth potato purée by boiling or steaming 500 grams potatoes for about 20-30 minutes until they are well cooked – use a good mealy variety like Bintje, Agria or Désirée. Peel the potatoes while they are still hot, then mash them well (use a ricer or push through a strainer). Place the potatoes in a large clean bowl, add one egg yolk and 250 grams of the reserved pumpkin purée to the potatoes, then gently mix together. Season with sea salt and freshly grated nutmeg. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon baking powder with 250 grams all-purpose flour. Fold the flour mix into the potato and pumpkin mixture. Break off a small piece and roll it between your hands to form a small dumpling – this is your test. Place the small dumpling in a small pot of poaching water and cook gently for about 3 minutes. Remove and check the consistency and seasoning. Add more flour to the mix if necessary…the dumplings should be smooth and light. When you are happy with the dough, roll out 4- to 5-cm thick logs and cut into 1-cm thick pieces. Roll each piece quickly between both hands to form a small noodle-like dumpling with tapered ends. Flour the schupfnudeln well to prevent them from sticking. When all of the schupfnudeln are formed, poach them in batches for about 4-5minutes in salted water, then drain them and toss them in olive oil. Sauté over medium heat in olive oil until slightly golden…and enjoy them hot!
Have fun with this recipe, and be sure to check out our Cooking with Pumpkins booklet, available for free in pdf format: Download a Copy