The word “spaetzle” is pronounced shpet-sluh and means “little sparrow” in German. Spaetzle are small noodle-like dumplings that can be used in either savory or sweet dishes, or as a wonderful substitute for pasta, rice, or potatoes. The traditional way to make spaetzle is to scrape small bits of a dough off a wooden board into boiling water. It’s an interesting process and one I was not very good at!
An easier way to make spaetzle is by forcing the dough through a colander or grater with large holes, but there are also several devices that make spaetzle making even easier. One, a spaetzle press, works like a potato ricer. Then there is the hopper type spaetzle maker (this is what I have). A flat piece of metal with big holes fits across the pot of boiling water… the hopper is filled with a thick batter, and as it is moved back and forth across the metal piece, the batter is forced down through the holes into the water. It’s a very, very quick process.
I have mixed this batter in my food processor, and that works well except the batter is so thick and elastic, it is rather an ordeal to scrape it out of the small processor bowl. Usually I mix the batter in a large bowl using my stand mixer… it is much quicker to scrape the dough out of the mixer bowl’s larger open space.
I use the recipe that came with the spaetzle maker…
For each batch of spaetzle batter:
1 cup milk
3 cups all purpose flour (I use either white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
I beat the eggs until they are frothy, add the milk and the dry ingredients, and beat until the batter is smooth and elastic. That happens very quickly. I already have a tall pot of water boiling and ready on the stove, so I just place the spaetzle maker across the pot, scrape the batter into the hopper, and slide the hopper back and forth until all the batter has been forced through the holes. The spaetzle are done when they rise to the top of the water… they take about three minutes to cook.
I can mix up a batch of spaetzle and have it cooked and ready to eat in less than ten minutes… which makes spaetzle a wonderful “fast food” alternative for those of us who have to make everything we eat from scratch.