Dampfnudeln; Or, Our Heroine Gets a Case of the Giggles

Oddly, this post did not come about through any sort of bookish research—or at least, not directly.

My child is six. He recently watched Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and then listened to the amazing Shakespearean actor Jim Dale read the Peter and the Star Catchers series. He is suddenly speaking in a British accent. Often.

So, we’re driving along on the way home from dinner out, the car is quiet, we’re all enjoying the early summer evening and our full bellies, when a small voice from the back seat says: “I’d still like some pudding when we return to London.”

In full British accent.

Mr. Alexander and I, being rather pragmatic people, respond in unison: “Are you going to London?”

(Note: We live in the Midwest of the US. London is just a little far for an evening trip.)

Clearly, he was repeating a phrase from one of said movies/books. But the fun part is the pudding. The small child, of course, is thinking J-E-L-L-O pudding. Again, being pragmatic people, Mr. Alexander and I feel the need to explain that British pudding is not the same as the pudding we have here in the US.

Image: Google Books

Being a writer of historical romance, I naturally haul out my copy of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. The original was published in 1861, and though that’s a bit later than the time period I write, a good, solid recipe doesn’t just come into being. Not in those days. They were handed down from generation to generation, tweaked, modified, and handed down again. And while there were certainly innovative cooks then, the recipes in Mrs. Beeton’s are not the sort you’d find a famous chef’s private collection. They are tried and true recipes used by real people.

As my family and I were reading about Pease Pudding, Rolled Treacle Pudding and Canary Pudding (I promise, no birds in that one), I discovered the recipe for Dampfnudeln, or German Pudding.

Just say that out loud. Dampfnudeln. Damp-fa-noodle-n.

I have to say, the name just tickled me. For the rest of the night I kept saying dampfnudeln and giggling to myself. Sounds like a costume involving lederhosen crossed with something a bit naughty, doesn’t it? I wondered if dampfnudeln could be featured in my next love scene. But, alas, I don’t think so.

What, exactly, is dampfnudeln? Using my Google-Fu, I discovered it’s a roll, or a steam dumpling. What fascinated me is not only are they eaten today, but Mrs. Beeton shared that German recipe with her readers in the 1800’s. The instructions aren’t as easy to follow as the recipes in my latest food magazine, however. “Rather more than a ¼ pint of warm milk” and “very little salt” are included as ingredients. For someone like me, that’s just asking for baking trouble!


Behold, Mrs. Beeton’s recipe, as it appears in the book:


I have half a mind to try the recipe! Only, I don’t have a fireplace to let the dampfnudeln rise beside, and I don’t suppose heating up my oven and simply opening the door would work, do you?

Follow Alyssa Alexander:

Despite being a native Michigander, Alyssa Alexander is pretty certain she belongs somewhere sunny. And tropical. Where drinks are served with little paper umbrellas. But until she moves to those white sandy beaches, she survives the cold Michigan winters by penning romance novels that always include a bit of adventure. She lives with her own set of heroes, aka an ever-patient husband who doesn’t mind using a laundry basket for a closet, and a small boy who wears a knight in a shining armor costume for such tasks as scrubbing potatoes. Alyssa’s debut release, THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK, was awarded 4.5 Stars and Top Pick, nominated for 2014 Best First Historical by the Romantic Times and Best First Book in the Romance Writers of America RITA contest. Her second book, IN BED WITH A SPY, released in December 2014 from Berkley, and received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly and 4.5 Stars and Top Pick from Romantic times. She has been called a “talented newcomer” and “a rising star you won’t want to miss.” You can find Alyssa at all the usual places! Please stop by and say hello! And you can always reach her by email at alyssa@alyssa-alexander.com.

11 Responses

  1. dholcomb1

    recipe sounds good!

    When I make yeast rolls, I let them rise on the stove top of the oven which is already preheated.

    • Alyssa Alexander

      Ah, now that’s a brilliant idea! Thanks, Diane!

  2. Barbara Monajem

    I love Mrs. Beeton’s cookbook! I’m a bit obsessed with the recipe for asparagus pudding. Making it is one of the two items on my bucket list. It’s not a dessert pudding, though — it’s (to quote Mrs. B) “A delicious Dish to be served with the Second Course,” and peas can be substituted for the asparagus.

    • Alyssa Alexander

      Mrs. Beeton’s is one of the very first research books I ever bought. There is so much information there, on medicine, running a household, meals, dining, and a dozen other subjects I never would have thought to research.

      If you ever make that Asparagus Pudding, let me know how it goes!

    • Alyssa Alexander

      I’m mostly German myself! Doesn’t it sound good? The measurements are odd, so I’m not sure I’d do a proper job of it, but it would be fun!

  3. Ally Broadfield

    The recipe is interesting. Maybe I’ll get my kids involved and we’ll try it as an afternoon project on a hot summer day. Did your son get his pudding?

    • Alyssa Alexander

      Nope. But he also didn’t go to London either. 😉 LOL! And I don’t keep regular pudding in the house, so I couldn’t even make him some, poor bloke.

  4. Maggi Andersen

    I love German food, but won’t be trying that one. I wish I had a small child around to read Bedknobs and Broomsticks to!