rubbing butter into flour :golden syrup dumplings
Posted: 23 August 2011 07:14 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hello everyone,

I don’t know if this is just an Australian thing, but one of my warmest childhood food memories is Golden Syrup Dumplings, which I have never been able to replicate to my satisfaction in my own kitchen. My sauce isn’t quite right (too lemony and not gooey enough) but the real disappointment is the dumplings. My mothers were always light and fluffy. Mine are not.

The basic technique called for in every recipe I have ever seen is rubbing the butter into the flour using ones fingers. This is something I have never enjoyed, and whenever a recipe calls for me to do this (I recently tried a new biscuit recipe which uses the same technique) I am unsure when I am ‘done’, and I don’t understand quite what I am trying to achieve. Is it important that the butter not melt? (At least one recipe for dumplings I have seen tells you to start with butter at room temperature, which doesn’t make sense to me if its a pastry type ‘must not melt’ situation, although it sure does make the rubbing go quicker!) Can I whiz them in the food processor and expect a similar outcome? Could I just blast them in the microwave and stir them together? And if not why not?

Hoping for a little light,

Jane

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Posted: 24 August 2011 10:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Some recipes for golden syrup dumplings:
http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/6557/golden+syrup+dumplings
http://thecakemistress.com/blog/freerecipes/golden-syrup-dumplings/
http://www.csrsugar.com.au/Sweet-Decadence/Desserts/Golden-Syrup-Dumplings.aspx

The dumplings are not particularly cake like, the dough is unsweetened, all the flavour comes from the sauce. I think (not really being overly familiar with american biscuits… in my earlier comment where I talk about biscuits I mean ‘cookies’) Gene is right in saying these things are similar to ‘biscuits’. The dumplings are all about texture. Over the years I have achieved everything from rubber balls to a mushy mess which is more like soup! I manage to avoid the two extremes now, but have never got to anything which captures what made this such a peak winter dessert experience.

I must say, Gene, that your response ‘The texture of the final result will depend upon the person that makes them. You have to ?learn? these recipes through practice’ is depressingly similar to what I am always being told here. As someone who has been making the blessed things for twenty years and still finds her results sub-optimal I was hoping for a little more, I don’t know, science?

Any suggestions how to quantify how ‘rubbed in’ the butter gets, so I can make proper comparisons between batches?
If I am starting with room temperature butter, would it be preferable to have the egg and milk at room temperature as well ( I know with some recipes having everything at the same temp improves performance), or would this be redundant?

BTW, even though _mine_ are nothing to write home about, made well these are just about the yummiest thing I know.

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Posted: 01 September 2011 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thanks everyone, I appreciate the advice! I am going to beat this one, and when it’s PERFECT I’ll have you all round for dessert, OK?

The English recipe looks interesting… I’ve never seen a recipe which calls for the golden syrup in the dough itself! I think I’ll have a run at this one tomorrow night, and let you all know how it goes.  It calls for the food processor, so I won’t even need to cheat. I haven’t actually done the dumplings again yet since my first post, but I did do the new biscuit recipe I alluded to, working in the food processor instead of rubbing, and I certainly don’t think the product was any worse. (It was certainly less work for me!)

My problem now is that I have run out of winter… first day of spring here today (and the blossom on the trees down our street to prove it!) Now I think of it, this seems to happen to me every year. By the time I have had as many disappointments as needed to really make me focus on the problem, the seasons change and I put it away for another year…

One other thought I had during the week was about scones… the classic scone recipe I learned as a girl has the same basic rubbing butter technique, but a few years ago I found a really wonderful recipe for scones which doesn’t use butter at all, but cream; my scones improved markedly overnight. This suggests another approach to the problem…

But for this week at least I’ll do a half batch of the English Kitchen recipe (there’s no way my family is going to put away 4 cups of flour worth of dumplings!)

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Posted: 02 September 2011 06:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Well, I did try the English Kitchen recipe, and it is definitely an improvement, both in terms of ease of production, and quality of product.

As per Julie’s advice, I made a sincere effort to if anything overmix the butter and flour, and in the second phase sought to stop mixing as soon as the dough came together.

I am wondering about the direction to warm the milk… would this be to ease the mixing of the syrup and milk, or would it make a difference to how the milk incorporates into the dry ingredients? I did as they said anyhow.

I was certainly glad I did a cut down version… though my boys are serious eaters, even a half quantity of the dumplings defeated them. Mind you most of the recipes I have made before called for 1 cup of flour, and this was 2 cups even at half quantity. I was worried about there being enough syrup to cook the dumplings in so I went 2/3 for the syrup, but if (when) I was doing this again I think I would do the full whack of syrup, and cut down the amount of dough even more.

The next challenge I envisage is about getting the dumplings into the syrup in a timely manner. Because you are not pre-forming the dumplings (as some recipes require), just spooning them directly into the cooking syrup, you need to be fairly quick or the first ones in will be half cooked before you are getting the last ones on. Hmmm. I wonder if an icecream scoop would speed things up? Though you wouldn’t want them to be over regular in shape. It’s probably just a matter of practice, I suppose (and having some clear working space!!! Because this is a ‘serve straight away’ type thing, I was making it in post dinner prep pre-washing up dinner shambles. Trying not to knock over the tottering piles of dishes. Not especially conducive to undivided attention.) Any how I certainly will be starting for a higher base when I come back to it next winter. Am going to write up changes and copy this into my recipe book before bed tonight.

Thanks again.

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