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My Boyhood's Hungarian Plum Dumplings

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I had eaten these dumplings only once, when I was 12, but boy did they make an impression! Such a rich combination of gorgeous juicy sweet prunes covered in a soft potato-based simmered dough.

Back when I was a boy a Hungarian relative stayed with us for a few days. One evening, as I came from school, she was busy preparing a most intriguing dish. Dumplings as big as apples simmered and then rolled in a bed of buttered bread crumbs, cinammon and sugar. Such a treat! For years I remembered this dish. A week ago I found its recipe in a Hungarian cookbook. I am told this dish is quite popular all over Central Europe. All it lacks to become a world hit is a manageable name. With szilvás gombóc I just don't think it will ever make it.


Hungarian Plum Dumplings
1 kilogram floury potatoes
600gr ripe plums
sugar cubes
poppy seeds
granulated sugar
150gr butter
100gr breadcrumbs
1 egg
350gr flour

1. Boil washed potato with skins on. Put under running cold water for a minute, peel and puree. Mix with the beaten egg, 30gr melted butter and the flour until a smooth dough is obtained. Add more flour if too soft. Some people put a little sugar in the dough - your choice.

2. Flour the table and spread the dough with a rolling pin about 0.5 cm (0.2'') thick. Pit the plums and put a little cinammon and a sugar cube inside each. Some people use one plum per dumpling, other put only a half dumpling. They won't be bite-sized either way so I recommend putting a whole plum so that the plum juice is less likely to pierce through the dough. Wrap the dough around the plums so as to cover them entirely. Do not put too much dough or it won't cook no matter how long you leave it.


3. Fill your largest saucepan with salted water and heat until it boils. Plunge the dumplings carefully in the boiling water. The temperature will decrease as you put them in. Wait until the water simmers but do not let it boil. When the dumplings emerge again as they cook, count 5 more minutes and remove carefully one by one with a sieve. Don't pour everything out - they will break.


4. Heat the remaining butter in the largest, flattest saucepan you have. Mix in the breadcrumbs and leave for a few minutes. Add the dumplings one by one, carefully, and let them take some color. Turn them carefully to coat them evenly in breadcrumbs. Toss over the dumplings granulated sugar, cinammon and poppy seeds if you like them.

As always with dumplings and fritters, the name of the game is to get the most fillings in the least dough.

I hope you enjoyed reading or making this recipe as much as I did and thank you for your attention.



  • #1
  • Comment by Claudine Goller
I thought your description was good, and the pictures would be very helpful for anyone who had never seen the making of plum dumplings.  (I have never heard of anyone's adding poppy seeds to the crumbs on the outside, buy hey, to each his own.)Fun to read!
  • #2
  • Answered by fx
Poppy seeds are added in some actual, authentic regional recipes, and they work really well. Try it and see for yourself - it's really a treat!
  • #3
  • Comment by irene Neil
My mother used t make these but I had a friend that used instant  potatoe flakes to make the dough. I have  made my mothers which is same as yours but I would like the one with instant potatoe flakes.Thank you
  • #4
  • Answered by fx
Irene I only use real potatoes - sorry I can't help you with the potato flakes.
  • #5
  • Comment by Liz
I have to comment on your excellent article along with the pictures.  I am making these tomorrow at a friends house and my recipe is essentially the same as yours.  My friend and I made them for the first time when we were still in school in my mothers kitchen. We always talked about how much fun it was and a few years ago we decided to get together every fall with our families and make them together with husbands and children.  It has become a wonderful tradition for our families.  My mother used to take a little of the dough (a couple of dumplings worth or some of the scraps)and make a simple and delicious soup to serve before the dumplings.  Take the dough and make little dumplings about the size of medium marbles.  Make a roux and don't let it get too brown, just a bit golden and add some paprika(1/2 teaspoon) near the end (don't let the paprika burn)and some chopped parsley then take some of the cooking water but only if the dumplings haven't leaked into the water. Or you can use plain water but the cooking water is better, add it to the roux along with the little dumplings and cook it for a few minutes till the dumplings are done. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. This is a simple soothing soup, sort of like Hungarian Comfort Food. Sorry for being so long winded.
  • #6
  • Comment by Gabriella
I'm Hungarian and couldn't describe the recipe more properly! ;) Thank you for keeping up the Hungarian cuisine!It is either breadcrumbs or poppy seeds! My mum goes for the latter one only! I prefer the breadcrumb version myself.If you need more Hungarian original recipes! Let me know.
  • #7
  • Answered by fx
Thanks a lot Liz and Gabriella. This is praise from Ceasar! I'll have to make them either with poppy seeds or with breadcrumbs and will sure try the soup as a starter! Thanks!
  • #8
  • Comment by aidee
And another variation on this wonderful recipe is the substitution of fresh cherries for plums!!
  • #9
  • Answered by fx
Aidee, is this a traditional Hungarian way of preparing szilvás gombóc with cherries? Sounds delicious!
  • #10
  • Comment by aidee
More so thinking across borders to Poland (and probably Slavic in general) and the use of fresh cherries in pierogi; an additional take is fresh ricotta mixed with the fresh cherries! Yum! Absolutely love your site upon stumbling across very recently and will certainly be trying the recipes which have been lovingly captured and shared - kudos to delving into food cultures.
  • #11
  • Answered by fx
Thank you Aidee! I just love piroshki (sweet cherry raviolis with sour cream) but never found a proper recipe. Would you know how to make them?
  • #12
  • Comment by Mike
This looks so delicious! Do you have the measurements by volume instead of weight?
  • #13
  • Answered by fx
Mike, sorry I don't usually make my recipes in metric and US measurements. In all fairness pastry hardly lends itself to volume measurement, weight is just more precise. If you do a lot of pastry you might want to invest in a digital scale. Sorry I can't help more!
  • #14
  • Comment by acediac
FX, I had forgotten about these until reading this! I'm of Hungarian descent and making Hungarian food has been an interest of mine for some time.. It helps me in a way to better understand part of my roots. I actually don't really cook these in the traditional way. For example, I prefer to use a 50/50 mixture of breadcrumbs and graham cracker or gingersnap crumbs. I like mine with a lot of cinnamon and a good sweetness. It seems most people love these being large, squirting out crimson plum juice when they cut into them. But for some reason, I like these small or perhaps made with the small Damson plums that my great-grandma made her slightly tart plum jam with, of which I replicate for my Dad who misses it from his childhood. These inspired me to make a version with apples that I think I just might prefer more than the plums!
  • #15
  • Answered by fx
Acediac, thanks for visiting! There is a great illustrated encyclopedia of Hungarian food published by Köneman in their Culinaria collection, do you know this book?
  • #16
  • Comment by Renae
Hello,  I have been looking for a recipe like this for years!  I am making these for a Hungarian friend and I have been told that you use prunes not plums....or Freestone Italian Plums...is it something lost in the translation to English or which is it?
  • #17
  • Answered by fx
Renae, might there be such a thing as 'Prune plums'?
  • #18
  • Comment by Beatrix
Oh great .. I am making these tomorrow for my work colleagues as something different, and found this when checking out the recipe as I have had this in a very long time.  I am Hungarian and we grew up on this sort of food most of our lives, but in the last decade mum has not made the traditional foods as much.  I guess I have to learn now !I got the receipe from my mum earlier tonight and she uses a couple of table spoons of semolina in the dough mix as well.  Yes we do you prumes, but soak them in abit of hot water to soften them first.  You could try dried apricots in the same way too.
  • #19
  • Answered by fx
Beatrix, thanks for your comment! Do you mean you use dried prunes soaked in hot water? Is this the way to prepare this during the winter?
Oh my god! Me and my mum make these all the time :D but we make them with different types of jams and sometimes with cottage cheese :D
  • #21
  • Comment by sinthia
Oh My I grew up eating these great plum dumplings. My father was born in hungaria and what a treat it would be when he made us plume dumplings !! LOVE THEM
  • #22
  • Answered by fx
Sinthia, I'm glad to hear my little article brought you back cherished memories of your father!
  • #23
  • Comment by Vicki
Great! Loved the pictures, as I had no idea what these were.
I like to see what my finished dish will look like.
  • #24
  • Answered by fx
Thanks Vicki and good luck if you make this dish, it is very satisfying and people remember it for years!
  • #25
  • Comment by Bill
This is the recipe that my grandparents also made, Plum Dumplings they called it.

They also made a simple dish referred to as: Crumpling or Grumple Noodles. I remember it looked like wide noodles pan fried after they were cooked some, in lard or fat, then with aged or dried out large bread crumbs also mixed in and fried with the noodles. The bread crumbs were at least larger than dice would be, any idea what that was or what it is really called? Thanks Much, I enjoy your site.
  • #26
  • Comment by Bill
I forgot to tell you, they were from Hungary, and spoke either low German or high German. They sure could cook and grow vegetables and fruit.

From the St. Louis, Missouri area when I grew up.
  • #27
  • Answered by fx
Thanks Bill, no I don't know what these pan fried noodles could be, but there are similar dishes to accomodate leftover bread in a nice fashion all over Europe.
  • #28
  • Comment by Caz
I was married to a Hungarian and regularly make plum dumplings (my children call them gumbops). In recent years I found a recipe that used ground walnuts, sugar and cinnamon instead of breadcrumbs to coat them.  I still prefer breadcrumbs but some of my family are converted to walnuts.  My ex always used the water in which the plums were cooked as a base for making egg soup (which we still do - delicious!)
  • #29
  • Answered by fx
Carol, would you have the recipe for your ex´s egg soup, this sounds very intriguing!
  • #30
  • Comment by Caz
Certainly can! It may sound weird but most people really like it. The quantities are all a bit vague because it's all done 'to taste'.
Put a three or four bay leaves, two or three stock cubes and a very generous squirt of tomato puree into the remaining water (top up liquid if necessary - you need two or three pints) and simmer for about an hour. Then fry a tablespoon of paprika in a couple of tablespoons of oil then pour this into the soup.  Adjust seasoning/flavouring.
Just before serving beat up three or four eggs and pour gently into the simmering soup, stirring constantly (if you stir slowly you get larger chunks of egg; stir vigorously and you just get tiny strands).  Cook for a minute or two then serve.  You can also break whole eggs into the soup and poach them. My ex used to sprinkle vinegar on the soup before eating.

Incidentally, re plum dumplings: my aforementioned ex used any left-over dough by wrapping it round a spoonful of jam, then treating as before.  We sometimes do the same with grapes - very popular with small children!
  • #31
  • Answered by fx
Caz, sounds like a delicious soup with tiny egg filaments, I need to try that!
  • #32
  • Comment by barbara
Italian plums are small and purple and when dried become "prunes"  so prune plums is a real legitimate way of describing them.  I really enjoyed seeing these recipes. my on line friend gave a recipe, but these are better. I like the idea of cherries too. Never say cherry perogie, but it sounds good too. am thinking of experimenting with other fruits too.
  • #33
  • Answered by fx
Barbara thanks for your precisions about plums types!
  • #34
  • Comment by Károly
Great to see Hungarian recipes (I live in Hungary, myself, my aunt makes the most amazing traditional foods)

Now I would love to see you try out my favourite things to eat: sour cherry soup (meggyleves), and sajtos pogácsa (don't know what that is in English, sorry), like a delicious crumbly buttery warm muffin-like thing? To die for. I make sure I often visit my aunt because her cooking is fantastic. :)
  • #35
  • Answered by fx
Karoly, although I don't speak any Hungarian (no surprise!) I plan to visit Hungary to make a few articles about your many intriguing and tasty traditional dishes, let me know if your aunt might agree to cook a recipe for the readers of FXcuisine!
  • #36
  • Comment by Judy
What a delightful article.  I'm saving it, of course, and may try it or simply keep it in my wishful thinking collection.  The comments are wonderful--almost as good as the recipe itself. Thank you.
  • FX's answer→ Judy I really hope you get to cook this, it is a amazing dish well worth the effort!

  • #38
  • Comment by jonathan
if you like sweet starchy dishes like this one you should
look up "mehlspeisen" in austrian cookbooks, you will be amazed
like your page
  • FX's answer→ Thanks!

  • #40
  • Comment by sharon
Today I was indulging in my hobby of throwing pots and a classmate told me of her Austrian grandmother's famous plum dumplings which, when prompted, she went on to describe.  Imagine my happiness when came to discover this recipe on the internet!  My mouth is watering; I can't wait to try them.
  • FX's answer→ Sharon good luck with those delicious dumplings and please report back when you've tried them!

  • #42
  • Comment by Lauren
My Dad is from Hungary and I grew up eating these (along with many other amazing Hungarian dishes!).  Just seeing this recipe brings back so many great memories.  I'm going to call my Dad tomorrow and tell him he has to make these soon because now I want them.. I haven't had them in a long time.
  • FX's answer→ Glad my article brought back pleasant childhood memories!

  • #44
  • Comment by Lin
Hajra Magyarok! Szilvas Gomboc are just the best dessert ever!
  • #45
  • Comment by Celia
A great recipe accompanied by a marvellous set of photos - I found them invaluable as I've never tasted the real thing. Thank you!! My dumplings turned out quite heavy so I served them with raspberry vinegar... the flavours worked together very well and the sharpness cut the pastry perfectly.
  • FX's answer→ Celia, a touch of acidity can often work wonders to offset too sweet a dish!

  • #47
  • Comment by Pam
I am thrilled to find your website - and this recipe! I've dreamed of making these dumplings since last tasting my Grandmother's many years ago. We found her recipe-identical to yours-and tried it for the first time just 2 weeks ago, with no success. Having these photos and more detailed instructions will make all the difference! I can see where I went wrong. Will also try the poppy seeds-sounds really good. One question I do have is, what's the best type of potato to use?  Russet, red, Yukon Gold???? Thank you!
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Pam, glad you did not get discouraged with two failures - I am confident you will make terrific dumplings on the third try! Please do use Russet potatoes or other with a high starch content. Cook them with the peels on and if the puree is very wet, dry them in a warm oven for a couple hours just to let the moisture out before making your dumplings.

  • #49
  • Comment by Daniel
Hi Fx. Superb website. So many interesting articles and very well written to. I'm a recent gourmet afficcionadoHi Fx. Superb website. I found many interesting articles and very well written too. Excellent work! I'm a recent gourmet aficionado from Transylvanian descends with an exposure on a large palette of cuisines from Central and Eastern Europe, but after a couple of travels in France, Italy and Switzerland I discovered that there is much more. I always tried to do some changes when I cook and I’d like to hear your opinion about trying those dumplings with pineapple balls coated (just a little) with caramelized Demerara sugar and cinnamon instead of plums.
Thanks and keep up the good work!
  • #50
  • Comment by Liz
As kids we called these Gumballs ... Gumballs is the best meal EVER!  Now I've gotta make a batch.
  • Comment by fx, 1
Gumball is a very good name to convince kids to try this out!
  • #52
  • Comment by georgina parkinson
  • FX's answer→ Georgina how did it go?

  • #54
  • Comment by Réka
Hi, instead of plums you can use apricots too. They are equally delicious.
  • #55
  • Comment by Maya
lOn, those are not Hungarian, they are originally definitely Slovak. :)

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