Frank’s Old-School Dumplings (Knedliky) #sevendaysofsoup

With colder temperatures & hearty soups comes talk of dumplings. In the same week that I first made Chicken & Dumplings, I got some texts from my childhood friend, as her dad was making some dumplings to go with a roast. He wanted to make him the way his mom did & was using several old cookbooks & reportedly some old chicken-scratch notes he had made. Why do I feel like this is going to be me when I get older? They were Czech dumplings, AKA knedlicky. I know many ethnic foods, but was unfamiliar with knedlicky. I inquired about the books being used, & received several pix starting with this one of a cookbook from the 1920s.

 And several dumpling recipes. I made this one, specifically because it was labeled knedlicky.  

  I love vintage cookbooks. Someday I’ll write a post featuring all my favorites. But vintage recipes are sometimes confusing. They are often written in a conversational tone, like this one, and sometimes the measurements can be a little sketchy. “Enough flour to make a thick dough…” would definitely not fly as instructions in a modern recipe. Here’s my analysis & translation.

Frank’s Old-School Dumplings (Knedlicky)

I’m told that these dumplings are “bread dumplings” and that Frank’s dumplings are not; but I’m keeping this title to pay homage to Frank & his manic dumpling-making. 


  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 C whole milk
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter (this is adjusted from the original recipe’s 1 tsp which didn’t seem to be nearly enough)
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2-2C all-purpose flour
  • 2 slices of white bread
  • butter or margarine for frying (I used plain old Blue Bonnet to keep things Old School)


  1. Beat 2 large eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  2. Add milk, butter (at room temp), & salt.
  3. Slowly add the flour 1/4 C at a time until a thick, slightly sticky dough is formed.
  4. Beat at medium speed for about 5 mins, until the dough comes together and starts to make a slapping noise on the bowl as it is kneaded.
  5. While your dough is being kneaded in the mixer, butter & fry 2 slices of bread & tear them into small pieces.
  6. Add your fried bread pieces to the dough and beat until combined. This seemed to be an odd thing to do, and scientifically I’m not really sure why you would add bread crumbs to a dumpling dough but in the spirit of making a vintage recipe, I went along with it.  
  7. The recipe calls for making your dumplings the size of a small apple. I’m thinking apples must have been much smaller in the olden days, because my dumplings came out HUGE. Not that that’s a bad thing, but you may want to go a bit smaller.
  8. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. When you drop the dumplings in they will probably sink to the bottom, and will probably need to be scraped from the bottom of the pot with a knife.
  9. Cover and cook 10 mins at medium-high.
  10. Serve with soups, roasts, and gravies.

Julia’s Brioche

A few weeks ago, when I was making my kids Croque Monsieur for dinner I picked up some store-bought brioche. Delicious, but a touch expensive, but definitely a delicious treat!

I hadn’t made brioche since culinary school many moons ago, so I decided to give it a go. Naturally, I immediately reached for my copy of Baking with Julia.

Julia was apparently one of my early role-models, my mom tells stories of me “cooking” on my grandma’s front steps as a preschooler. I’m going to have to get her to find a photo of that. Julia is the inspiration for the pegboard wall in my kitchen that you may have seen in the background of some of my photos. Hanging in my dining room, is this print, that I received for Christmas last year.

If you are short on time, brioche is definitely not the bread for you to bake. You will need a total of about 12 hours of rising time to make this bread properly. Here’s the recipe I used, adapted from a Julia’s recipe:

Julia’s Brioche

makes 3 loaves

First you will need to make The Sponge. I think of this as a warm-up for the yeast to all the rising it will be doing during this recipe.


  • 1/3 C warm milk
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 C all-purpose flour


  1. In the bowl of your KitchenAid, combine milk, yeast, egg, and 1 C of the flour.
  2. Mix ingredients with a rubber spatula until combined.
  3. Sprinkle the other 1 C of flour over the mixture, covering it completely.
  4. Set The Sponge aside to rest, uncovered, for about 30 mins.
  5. After a few mins the flour topping will start to crack, that’s how you know thing are going as they should.


Here’s my sponge volcano starting to crack…

Once The Sponge has finished his initial rise, you can start to make him into The Dough. 


  • 1/3 C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter, at room temp


  1. Add sugar, eggs, and 1 C of the flour to  The Sponge. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until ingredients begin to come together.
  2. Add 1/2 C more flour; when flour is incorporated, increase speed to medium and mix for about 15 mins. Scrape down bowl and dough hook as needed.
  3. During the 15 min mix, dough will come together, wrap around the hook, and begin to “slap” the sides of the bowl. This is what Julia says. I laughed when I read it, but sure enough, about 10 mins in: slap slap slap rhythmically on the bowl!
  4. With the mixer on medium-low, begin to add the butter, a tbsp at a time.
  5. When all the butter has been added, turn speed up to medium and mix for about 5 mins. Scraping bowl and dough hook as needed.
  6. Your finished dough should be cool, soft, and a bit sticky.
  7. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours. During this time the dough will double in size.

    before first rise

  8. After 2 hours, deflate the dough by lifting & dropping the sides gently. Cover and refrigerate the dough overnight. It will continue to rise, and may double in size again.

    after refrigeration

  9. After the dough is refrigerated, you can freeze it for later use or shape it into some loaves immediately.

Proofing and Baking:

Fun fact: There are 2 kinds of brioche loaves. One is called a tête (French for head) and is baked in a special pan. The other is called a Nanterre, and is more of a traditional loaf. Since I don’t have a special brioche pan (Santa, are you listening?) I went with a Nanterre. 


  • 1 recipe brioche dough (see above)
  • 1 large egg, beaten with a tbsp of cold water for egg wash


  1. Butter 3 loaf pans, set aside.
  2. Divide the dough into thirds. Each of the thirds will become a loaf of brioche.
  3. Divide each third into 6 equal pieces, and roll into balls.
  4. Place the balls in loaf pan side-by-side in three short rows of 2. Repeat with remaining dough & pans.

    2 regular-sized pans, 1 mini

  5. Cover the pans with plastic  wrap sprayed with cooking spray and allow to rise at room temp for 2 hours or until double in size.

    after the rise

  6. Preheat the oven to 375F
  7. Lightly brush loaves with egg wash.
  8. Using a sharp pairing knife, cut a small cross into the top of each dough ball.
  9. Bake for about 30 mins until browned. If the loaves are browning too fast, you can cover them loosely with aluminum foil.
  10. Carefully remove from pans & cool on a rack.
  11. Put loaves in freezer bags & refrigerate ir freeze until ready for use. Slice as needed, as slices will go stale quickly.
  12. Use for sandwiches, French toast, or bread pudding!

Croque Monsieur Bread Pudding

This is a great recipe for anyone who has kids who refuse to eat crusts/end pieces of bread. I’ve been saving the butt-ends of loaves of bread in my freezer for several months now, and I have a whole bag full. Originally, my plan was to make a sweet bread pudding for Thanksgiving, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

A simple dinner that my kids enjoy is a Croque Monsieur. Basically, it’s a grilled cheese sandwich, on French toast. Some folks like to add in ham or bacon but I find just cheese is just fine.

Imagine my amusement when while watching an episode of American Horror Story: Asylum, Dr Thresden (AKA Zachary Quinto) is making a Croque Monsieur for a “guest” & declares:


You are creepy as hell Quinto, but SPOT ON.

This recipe is the casserole-version of the sandwich.

Croque Monsieur Bread Pudding

Serves 4-6


  • bread crusts, butts, and end pieces (about 1 loaf worth), cubed
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4-1/2C half-and-half
  • 4-6 oz Munster cheese, grated or cut into thin strips
  • 4-6 oz Baby Swiss cheese, grated or cut into thin strips
  • cooking spray
  • nutmeg (of course)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray, making sure you get the sides thoroughly. (The type you would make a lasagna in is perfect.)
  3. Spread half the bread cubes evenly in the bottom of the pan.
  4. Layer the cheese over the bread cubes.
  5. Spread the other half of the bread cubes over the cheese.
  6. Beat eggs and cream together. Crack all the eggs, then add cream to 2C. 
  7. Pour egg mixture over bread and cheese. With your hands, push bread and cheese down into egg mixture gently. 
  8. Let soak for 10 mins. Push down again. 
  9. Sprinkle top of pudding with nutmeg.
  10. Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes, until pudding is set, not runny, and slightly golden on top.
  11. Scoop out and serve, a great rainy-day treat with tomato soup!



Finnish Pulla Bread with Cinnamon & Cardamom

This recipe is the Scandinavian version of a cinnamon roll. But better. Not as sickeningly sweet as their Amercian counterparts, the dough is yeasty & just slightly sweet, the filling is flavorful and not excessive, and they are delicious without any type of gooey white icing on top. If you would like, you can top with crushed cardamom seeds or almonds after the egg wash. Completely by accident, I made these the same night I made chili for my kids for dinner. Chili & cinnamon rolls are some sort of weird Midwestern combo that I have never understood. Possibly a native Midwesterner can explain it to me?

A side note: cardamom is awesome & a cornerstone of the Nordic flavor profile. It is expensive, but a little goes a long way. I would recommend *not* buying the pods if possible. Use seeds or ground seeds. I had the pods leftover from when I made spiced rum & it was extremely time-consuming & labor-intensive to open a pile of pods & remove the seeds from within.


As I was taking the seeds out of the cardamom pods, I was reminded of this passage from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. #nerdalert

Pulla Bread with Cinnamon & Cardamom

makes 16 large rolls


for the dough:

  • 4 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 2C warmed milk (2% or whole is best)
  • 7C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2C granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cardamom seeds
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

for the filling:

  • 18 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1C granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  • slivered almonds, or crushed cardamom seeds, for garnish (if desired)


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Warm the milk in the microwave. As with any liquid you are adding yeast to, you will need it to be warm, not hot. In my microwave, it took about 1 min.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together warm milk and yeast. Set aside for at least 5 mins, or until frothy.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt to the yeast mixture. Stir until combined.
  5. Add the butter, a tbsp at a time, waiting for each addition to combine before adding the next.
  6. Knead for 6-8 mins, until dough is elastic & slightly sticky.
  7. Put the dough in a larger bowl that is oiled or buttered (here I recommend either butter or cooking spray), cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.
  8. Meanwhile, prep the filling: combine the butter, granulated sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a small bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until combined.
  9. Lightly dust your work surface with about 2 tbsp of flour. Turn the risen dough out and divide in 2 (I found that this was alot of dough to work with at once).
  10. With a rolling pin, roll it out to about 1/2″ thick. Ideally, the shape of the dough should be as close to rectangular as possible, but don’t worry if your dough is slightly rounded at the edges.
  11. Spread half the filling evenly over the dough, reaching all the way to the edges, then, beginning with a long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Cut the cylinder into 8 rolls.
  12. Repeat the above process with the other half of the dough.
  13. On two baking sheets with parchment paper arrange eight Pulla on each sheet, making sure they are about 2 inches apart. Cover Pulla with plastic wrap and allow them to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. They will double in size. (Hence the spacing.)
  14. Brush the pulla with the beaten egg and sprinkle with cardamom seeds or slivered almonds, if desired.
  15. Bake for 10 mins or until golden brown. Serve warm with a cup of strong coffee.

    adapted from a recipe from

Fill-in-the-Blank Bread

So here’s a little quick-bread recipe you can use all year round. I’ve done it with zucchini, pumpkin, and bananas but you could use carrot, squash or almost any other fruit or vegetable that you like. I like this recipe because it’s simple & I almost always have all the ingredients on-hand. Great for breakfast, or an after-school snack for the kiddies!

Fill-in-the-Blank Bread

makes 1 loaf


  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 C quick oats (uncooked)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • about 3 C your fruit or veg of choice (When I did pumpkin i used 1 15-oz can of pureed pumpkin)
  • 1/2 C walnuts, raisins, or craisins (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine all dry ingredients.
  3. In a large measuring cup, combine eggs, oil, and vanilla. Beat with a whisk to combine.
  4. With mixer on medium speed, add egg mixture to dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
  5. Add fruit or veg, stir until combined. Scrape down sides of mixture as needed.
  6. If desired, add nuts or dried fruit. Give the mixer a quick stir to distribute throughout batter.
  7. Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour to an hour 15 mins. Until a toothpick inserted into loaf comes out clean.
  8. Let the loaf cool on a wire rack for at least 10 mins before slicing.

Bread Zen

Earlier this week I was feeling some stress. My most favorite stress-reliever is baking bread. Something about working with my hands, dough stuck to all of my fingers, will always bring me to my happy place. Plus, when it’s over: FRESH BREAD! IMG_0153

My go-to is this recipe, and as I am apt to do I made the loaves according to recipe the first time, and played a little the second go-around.

Julia’s White Bread

adapted from a recipe from Baking with Julia

makes 2 loaves


  • 2 1/2 C warm water
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 7 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 2 oz unsalted butter, at room temp
  • EVOO to grease rising bowl


  1. Pour 1/2 C of the water into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Sprinkle in the yeast & sugar, whisk to blend. Let the mixture rest for about 5 mins, until it’s nice & frothy.

    This is actually the froth with the molasses (darker color).

  2. Using a dough hook, add the remaining 2C of water, & about 3 1/2 C flour to the yeast mixture. Mix on lower speed until combined, then add 3 1/2 C more flour.
  3. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and scrape down bowl & hook as needed until the dough begins to come together.
  4. Add the salt, and knead on medium speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. When the dough is mixed, add the butter, gradually, until incorporated. If the dough, begins to come apart here, don’t fret, keep kneading the dough & it will come back together.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball & place it in an oiled bowl. Make sure it is a large enough bowl, since the dough will double in size. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour.
  7. Grease 2 standard-sized loaf pans, and set aside.
  8. When the dough has risen you will want to punch it down to release the air, shape it into another ball, and split that in half, shaping each into a round shape with the edges tucked underneath.
  9. Place each loaf in a pan, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 1 hour a second time. While the loaves rise, preheat the oven to 375F.  IMG_0956
  10. When the loaves have risen, bake for about 40 minutes until they are honey-brown and make a hollow sound when tapped.

Changing it up:

When I made my second round of bread, I used 1 tbsp of molasses in lieu of the sugar. It got frothy when mixed with the yeast, so I knew it was good-to-go for the bread rising. I did not find that this addition effected the flavor or color of the bread in any way. Other options to try include honey and agave nectar.

It’s ALIVE! Part 2: “Feed the B!tch”

Fermented foods (and drinks) are fabulous! I was recently given a homemade sourdough starter by a friend. As he sat in my fridge, breathing through the air-holes in his jar, I contemplated (and pinned) the various delicious baked goodies I could make. English muffins, coffee cake, sourdough bread! Finally, I settled on some big-ass sourdough rounds. Seriously, one of them ended up bigger than my head! Good job, little starter! Once I had measured out the cup of starter needed to make the bread, I had to do what’s known as “feeding the b!tch”. That is, add some water, flour, and a sweetener to the jar of starter so it will continue to live & ferment and make you more delicious sourdough goodies! It’s also a good idea to do this every week or so when you’re not using your starter. To replenish your starter, you’ll need:

  • 3/4C water (not too hot)
  • 3/4C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar or honey

Stir the above into the existing jar of starter until combined. Cover with cheesecloth, or a lid with holes poked to allow “breathing”. Let stand at room temperature for about a day and a half. Store in the refrigerator.

Here’s a video of me “feeding the b!tch”.

Big-As-My-Head Sourdough Rounds

(adapted from a recipe in Better Homes & Gardens cookbook)


  • 1C sourdough starter (for some starter recipes, check out my It’s ALIVE! board on Pinterest)
  • about 6C all-purpose flour
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 tsp if you’re using a jar) active dry yeast
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a few swigs of olive oil


  1. Stir your starter & allow 1C to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
  2. Combine 2 1/2C of flour with the yeast and set aside.
  3. Combine 1 1/2C of water, sugar, butter, and salt until warm and butter is nearly melted. (It’s very important that this mixture not be too hot, or it could kill the yeast!)
  4. Add water mixture to dry mixture in mixer bowl. Add starter. Beat using mixer fitted with a dough hook for about 30 seconds on medium speed, scrape down the bowl, then beat on high speed for 3 minutes.
  5. Combine 2 1/2C of flour with baking soda, and add to dough mixture. Add all the remaining flour until combined and knead in the mixer (that’s why we’re using a dough hook) for about 6-8 mins until a firm ball of dough is achieved.
  6. Place the dough ball in a bowl coated in olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place (I usually use my stove top area) to rise for at least 45 minutes. The dough will double in size.
    Before first rise...

    Before first rise…

    After first rise...

    After first rise…

  7. After 45 minutes, punch down the dough, divide in half, cover, and rest for about 10 minutes.
  8. Form dough into 2 rounds, tucking any scruffy bits underneath. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. (These will get BIG. You may want to use 2 separate baking sheets.) Make a criss-crossed slash across the top of each round to prevent cracking. Cover & allow to rise a second time, for about 30 minutes.

    After second rise. See what I mean about them getting HUGE?! The one on the left was bigger than my head after baking...

    After second rise. See what I mean about them getting HUGE?! The one on the left was bigger than my head after baking…

  9. Bake in a 375F oven for about 35 minutes per loaf, covering with foil for the last 10 minutes to prevent over-browning. Cool 5-10 minutes before cutting.