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Well rounded on the slopes

Well rounded on the slopes

Our author has spent the entire winter discovering the relaxation of skiing to recover from the challenges of cooking. Reward for her efforts: Remembering one very special day and one very special Germknödel.

Two and a half years is how long it’s been since I last stood on skis. My reasons, as you may have wrongly, suspected have nothing to do with a bad experience or an accident. I simply did not have the time and the longer I put it off the easier it was to simply do without. The result: I simply stopped going for fear that I may have forgotten how. Friends and acquaintances assured me however that it wasn’t something I would simply forget. I had an image of myself in my mind, struggling to get down the slopes.

Nope, I decided, skiing was simply not for me. Yet with courage and motivation I finally returned to the slopes once more. It took my head a while to catch up after my first few insecure runs. I realised that all these smart people who ‘knew better’ may have been on to something after all. The technique was indeed stored somewhere in the back of my mind. With euphoria I began to enjoy every curve and bend. With time to reflect as I sat on the lift, I tried to recall my very first days on the slopes. One such day is clearer than others: I was heading into the valley from the Niedere in Andelsbuch with my father. The snow was fresh and I had butterflies in my stomach. After several hours on the practice slopes, my father decided I was ready to head up to the upper areas of the Niedere. The journey with the chairlift through forests and sparkling winter air seemed to last forever. I remember spending the entire journey asking myself how I would ever get down in one piece. And yet with my father, I still felt safe. “In an emergency, I’ll guide you down between my skis.”

At the beginning I skied slowly as instructed. It felt like child’s play. As we got further down, my father hungered to ski through the fresh snow. So he let me make my own way down the main slope while he enjoyed every mogul he could find. In this way, he revealed to me a part of his own childhood. Once in the valley, we headed straight for the warmth of the ski hut. A TV in the corner broadcast the ski jumping competition. This was another hidden passion of my father’s that became clear that day and he had a good idea about how best to quiet a bubbly young girl for a time: warm sweet food. So he ordered for me a large, steaming dumpling covered in poppy seeds and butter. This allowed him to watch the ski jumping in peace, while I devoted myself entirely to my appetite and the large Germknödel dumpling before me.

The flaming dough and the hot poppy-seed-sugar mixture united in my mouth to something unexpected: happiness. At the time I didn’t understand the power of the dark, sticky plum-jam centre that tasted slightly of rum. Once at home, I told my mother of my fantastic experience. The day of skiing was like a distant memory, but I would never forget the Germknödel dumpling. Smiling, my mother explained to me just how far the roots of this Bohemian-Viennese speciality extend back in time. She too, on several memorable occasions, had enjoyed this legendary delicacy of the freezer. Yes, it’s sad to say, few people put in the time to make Germknödel themselves anymore. It’s far too easy to grab a carton from the fridge and warm up the finished product.

This winter I went skiing often. Such days made my work in the kitchen easier. Even though I love to cook, the fresh air, concentration, exercise, skiing, snow, freedom, distance, and the ability to look forward to cooking once more, were all positives. Each time I returned to the kitchen from the slopes, I thought about Germknödel. It was a symbol for taking the time, to get the distance one needs.

Skiing is like cooking. It’s not something you just forget. It requires concentration, willpower and patience. To create something yourself, a Germknödel for example, means overcoming a hurdle or perhaps even your fear. Upon your plate, the finished product you have created makes you happy, much happier than simply warming up the finished product from the freezer. So just as I removed the dusty skis from the cellar and confronted my fear of having forgotten how to ski, I can draw parallels to the preparation of Germknödel. All you have to do is get the ingredients, take the time, follow the recipe, and have patience.


Yeast dumpling recipe

Ingredients for 4 people:

- 60 g butter
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 30 g yeast
- 500 g flour
- ¼ l milk (lukewarm)
- 1 pinch of salt
- vanilla according to taste
- lemon zest according to taste
- 80 g sugar
- 90 g butter
- 150 g poppy seed
- 100 g icing sugar
- 250 g plum jam
- 1 shot rum


Stir the yeast with some flour and sugar in lukewarm milk and let this stand for 15 minutes in a warm place until bubbles form. Then mix all the remaining ingredients with this mixture in the stand mixer until a shiny supple dough is formed. Form the dough into a ball and cover for one hour. Season the plum jam with a dash of rum and pour it into a piping bag with a small, smooth spout. After an hour knead the dough again and form it into small balls. Let the balls stand for 30 minutes before steaming them for about 12 minutes at 100 degrees in a steam cooker or a pot with a sieve insert. Remove the dumplings from the steam and fill with the plum jam from below. Melt and pour the butter over the dumpling and sprinkle with poppy seed and icing sugar.

Author: Milena Broger