One of the few things I really like about dark winters is the roast potatoes, stews and casseroles that magically emerge from the kitchen. The kind of food that warms you up, food like bread pudding, hot casseroles with torn off hunks of buttered bread and warm stews with dumplings. Dumplings speak to me of comfort, perhaps it is a little old fashioned but I do enjoy them and so I asked Vanessa to come up with a winter warmer. Naturally, Vanessa uses left over sourdough starter to add in bags of extra flavour but don’t worry if you don’t have any starter to hand – there is an easy alternative.

Sourdough Dumplings

My top tips for these fabulous dumplings is to make sure that your sourdough starter is at least a week old, as this affects its viscosity and the acidity that gives the stronger flavour. If you don’t have any starter then you can try an alternative fast ferment of rye and water by mixing up 75g organic rye flour and 85g of warm water, cover and leave somewhere warm such as an airing cupboard for 24 hours. That will give you a replacement quantity of starter with bags of fruity rye flavour instead. I’ve used Parmesan, which gives that fabulous umami taste that compliments the sourdough in these dumplings. Make sure that you lightly toast the caraway – it gives a real flavour kick!


Put the flour, cheese, baking powder, sea salt and herbs into a large bowl, stir together and make a well inthe centre.

Pour in the milk, starter, egg and caraway seeds and fold until you havea thick, slightly sticky dough, then just stop. Do not mix anymore, because you definitely do not want to activate the gluten or you risk heavy tough dumplings, and nobody likes a tough dumpling!

Divide the dough into 8 - 12 pieces, and using a dusting of flour on the table-top, shape roughly into balls and then place the dumplings in the simmering gravy of the casserole (see below).
Pop into the oven on 170C for 20 – 25 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes until the dumplings go very slightly golden – you don’t want to dry the dumplings out and different ovens can bake faster or slower depending on the fan or which direction the heat is coming from – so keep an eye on them. Remove from the oven and serve garnished with more chopped herbs.

8 -12 dumplings

250g strong white stoneground flour
55g finely grated hard cheese such as Parmesan
2 tsp organic baking powder
1⁄2 tsp Cornish sea salt
1 bunch of garden herbs (I used parsley or dill)
75g whole milk
150g un-refreshed sourdough starter
1 egg
1 tsp of caraway seeds – lightly toasted in a frying pan for 2 minutes


Large bowl
Wooden spoon

Sausage Casserole

You can of course top almost any casserole or stew with dumplings provided there is enough gravy, but if you don’t have a favourite recipe here is my simple sausage casserole to serve with sourdough dumplings.


Preheat the oven to 170C.

Heat half of the oil in the casserole and fry the onions and carrots until softened.

In a separate frying pan, fry the sausages in the remaining oil until a deep golden brown colour. Remove from the heat.

Once the onions and carrots are softened, stir in the Ras el Hanout and the chicken stock to the casserole along with the bay leaves. Bring gently to the boil then add the cornflour paste, the double cream and chopped dill.

Return the sausages to the pan and season. Place the lid on the casserole and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add sourdough dumplings to the casserole and cook per the dumpling recipe.

Serves 4

4 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
3 medium carrots, finely chopped
8 sausages (I used locally made ones but you can use vegetarian sausages too)
1 tbsp Ras el Hanout
650ml stock (chicken or vegetable)
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp cornflour mixed to a paste with 6 tablespoons of water
4 tbsp double cream
Bunch of dill, chopped, some reserved for serving

Salt and pepper


Medium casserole dish
Heavy based frying pan


Featured Products

Sourdough Starter | £14.00

Fresh sourdough starter from Vanessa Kimbell, taken from a 200 year-old culture in France. It is fed on organic white wheat flour and water and at least 300g is delivered in a convenient pot to keep a small quantity in your fridge between use.

Caraway Seeds | £2.27

Golden brown coloured barley malt flour for nice sweet, malty flavour and granary bread shade of colour to the loaf. The flour smells lovely and imparts a delicious flavour to your bread.

Baking Powder | £1.00

Organic baking powder, made in Germany for a high-performance alternative to the non-organic supermarket varieties.

Cornish Seasalt | £3.99

A handy 225g tub of pure, brilliantly white, flaky Cornish sea salt crystals melt in the mouth and add real flavour intensity to your bread and any other foods you like to make.

Do you have a sourdough question for Vanessa? Send it to us and the best ones will appear in our next postbag edition and receive a dough whisk.

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