why have my DUMPLINGS disintegrated/collapsed???

Joined Dec 3, 2009
i'm in the process of making a beef and ale stew with blue cheese dumplings, its been in the oven for an hour and ive just checked it to find the dumplings havn't held their round shape, but are sort of falling apart and are very loose and squidgy. does anyone have any idea why???

i used 150g of self raising flour
150g beef suet
140g(approx) stilton

did i get the measurements wrong or something? will they become firmer... or disappear completely?!?! if the stew comes out nicely i'd like to make it again in the future so any tips on how to improve my dumplings would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
Joined May 29, 2006
Most dumplings are half boiled half steamed and self rising flour and suet does work, but with the addition of all that cheese it will not hold together. Try European style binding them with the addition of an egg. The cheese will make them loose the same as a grilled cheese sandwich will have all the cheese drip-out if to hot.:chef:
Joined Feb 13, 2008

You're trying the recipe from the Independent?

Although not appearing in the ingredient list, the instructions request you to add water to the dough -- enough to get it to hold together.

Your problem is the amount of hydration -- too much or too little will give you similar results. Since you didn't mention the water, my guess is that you used too little. Gauging the approrpriate amount is a matter of "feel." Unfortunately, I can't help you too much with that, it's something you'll have to learn by experience. But as a start, whatever you did this time -- do the contra-positive next time. (Ahh, the scientific mind.)

The recipe's creator minimized the amount of water in order to keep the dumplings light, and in the belief that they would absorb enough liquid during the braise to hold together. But, alas.

Ed's egg is an excellent idea, but with a caveat. It will make your dumplings much safer, not to mention taste better; and alas will also make them considerably tougher and heavier -- no matter how gently you mix and form them.

On the other hand, if you want something very light you might try using soda water instead of plain water.

You can split the difference by substituting milk, cream, clabbered milk, butter milk, creme fraiche, sour cream, etc., for the water. This will result in a dumpling something like what we in the states call a biscuit and you don't. A "biscuit" type dumpling will also be very safe, if not quite as light as what the author intended. Nevertheless, I can confidently predict that you'll enjoy the flavor and taste.

Although, not the author's intention, it might be your best choice for its safety and also in teaching you to make American style biscuits which are a wonderful quick bread in and of themselves.

You may find this helpful: The usual ratio of flour to dairy liquid for nearly all dumplings is (very roughly) two parts flour by volume to one part liquid, or (again, very roughly) equal amounts by weight. The usual ratio of flour to water (or bubbely water) is somewhat higher. In the neighborhood of 1.5 parts flour to water by weight, or 3 parts flour to water by volume.

As a doctor -- no matter how bucolic -- you can do the conversions. I have confidence in you doctor.

Bonhomie and assurance out of the way, the reason the proportions are "very" rough is that they are contingent on a number of factors some of which can't be reliably predicted and are best resolved with "touch." No amount of careful, reproducible, scientific measurement serves as well.

If the "biscuit" idea intrigues you enough to try it, let me know and I'll write you a recipe.

Finally, I suggest searching a few dumpling recipes to get a sample which, in turn, can suggest a general idea of what's going on. The basic paramaers are: Not too dry; nor too wet; not handled too much in the mixing, kneading, and shaping; nor handled too little.

Joined Jul 28, 2006
Are you putting the dumpling batter ontop of the cold stew at the beginning of the baking time? If so, this might account for the failure, especially if the directions call for the pan (pot, casserole?) to be lidded, which I believe it typically would be.

I don't usually do stew in the oven, but on stovetop when I make dumplings with stew, the batter is dropped by the spoonful onto the barely bubbbling liquid at the last 15 minutes of cooking time, and the lid is put in place (no peeking). Light, fluffy and perfect every time. And I often put cheese in my dumbpling recipe too.

And yes, your recipe is lacking moisture. you need water, milk, buttermilk, even beer, in the right porportion to the dry ingredients. dry to liquid= roughly 2:1. Stir only til moistened & let sit for about 5 min before prodeding.

If I'm reading your ingredients correctly, though, you have nearly 2X as much fat (suet & cheese) as there is flour. This is way, way wrong. It probably just melted into the stew. Your total fat should equal no more than half your dry ingredients (actually 1/3 would be better).
Joined Feb 26, 2007
grace - I thought the same about too much fat. Equal it with the flour oz for oz and then that much rich cheese? Not preferred option. Obviously, there should be water, if not egg, to bind. And the soda water -top idea.

Cut the fat cut the cheese by about half each. They be turning into li'l greasy balls otherwise :D and be melting into the stew.

You may like to try something along these lines, it has a scone/"biscuit" topping on a savoury mix:

Beef Cobbler Recipe - Beef Mince with Scone Dumplings
Top Bottom