It’s not until I left Italy that I realized we take good food for granted. Not just in our homes, but everywhere we go. Even when skiing. To this day, the snow might be fluffier, the runs more thrilling and the crowds better behaving in the U.S., but nothing compares to the food you are served in the many high-altitude mountain huts when skiing in Italy. There were many favorite places we would pilgrimage to every weekend, but there was one that stood out. Ditching skis and poles behind, we climbed on board our neighbor’s jeep and drove along the snowy roads to a remote small family-run hut called Rauch Hütte. There was no question on what the kids would order. It was always the same: Buchteln. Translating this dish for what it is – apricot-jam-filled yeast dumplings – doesn’t do it justice at all. These plump, fluffy and buttery dumplings were the size of well-rolled snow balls, served over a bed of runny vanilla sauce and leaving you filled with buttery goodness. Who cared what the weather was, or how many people were queuing at the lift when we returned to the slopes. We were happy, stuffed and didn’t know that having Buchteln on Sundays when skiing would be one of the fondest memories we would carry with us thirty years later when living on the other side of the world. Come and Cook with us!
Making a yeast dough isn’t hard, but it takes a little planning as the yeast needs some time to work its magic. If you can’t get the whole process in one go, prepare the dish in steps and slow down the yeast by letting it rise in the refrigerator. The traditional filling as I know it is apricot jam, but one can be creative. I’ve tasted a plum, orange, cinnamon and cardamom concoction that was simply divine. At Rauch, Buchteln were served with or without vanilla sauce, but I like my mom’s adaptation that bakes the dumplings dipped in a syrupy buttery milk which keeps them from drying out. If that isn’t your thing, just bake the Buchteln regularly and either eat plain straight out of the oven or turn the dish into a more scrumptious affair by serving the dumplings on a bed of warm vanilla sauce.
Skipping savory and serving a sweet dessert-inspired dish for dinner is a very typical Austrian tradition. Think milk-rice, ricotta flan, riebel or crêpes. It’s not everyone’s type of a good dinner, but these Buchteln are surely worth a try, either as a dessert or served for dinner after a bowl of vegetable soup. Let us know how they turn out! Come and cook with us!