Spaetzle

Our German exchange “daughter” Hannah has made Spaetzle for us a few times and is teaching me how to make it.  Hannah makes the recipe by taste and feel for the amount of flour and water (so it is not exact).  We tried to measure the quantities of everything just so that I have a baseline when I try to make this without her one day…  The amounts below are good when making this for 3 people:

Ingredients for Spaetzle Noodles:

  • 4 eggs (# of people + 1 = # of eggs … however, if 4 or more people, add 2 eggs to the # of people)
  • about 1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt – may need more at end
  • 1.5 to 2.5 cup flour – qty depends on size of eggs.
  • 1/4 cup water to start with (will need more)
  • pinch of nutmeg (about 1/8 tsp)
  • pinch of ground pepper (about 1/8 tsp)

Casserole Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of cooked Spaetzle noodles
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • approx. 2 cups shredded cheese (swiss or similar cheese)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 8×8 or slightly larger baking dish with non-stick spray.

Directions to make the Spaetzle Dough:

  1. Whisk eggs until well-beaten.
  2. Whisk in salt – 1/2 tsp to start with.
  3. Hannah’s grandmother advises to allow the eggs to rest for 5 minutes at this point.
  4. Add approx. 1/4 cup water and whisk.
  5. Add flour, 1/3 to 1/2 cup at a time, and mix well after each addition (using spatula or wooden spoon) – a total of 1 1/2 cups to start.
  6. Add 1/8 cup water to thin out, if needed.
  7. Now, alternate between adding a little bit of flour (about 1/4-1/3 cup at a time) and a little water (a few Tablespoons at a time) to get desired consistency.  When dripped off spoon, it holds its shape as its dropped into dough for about 10 seconds before melting into dough pile – click here for a video of the finished dough, as an example.
  8. Add more salt if needed (Hannah added another 1/2 tsp).
  9. Add nutmeg and ground pepper, mix until incorporated.
  10. Add a little more flour if needed.  Mix batter vigorously to incorporate some air bubbles.

Directions to Cook the Spaetzle:

  1. Bring pot of water to almost-boiling.  Add salt – at least 1 tsp (more if desired).
  2. Pour some water over the wooden board and metal spatula, so they are wet.  Put blob of dough on board.  Get the metal spatula wet again and use it to spread out dough – it should be very thin on board (especially at the bottom of the board where you will cut it first.  Click here for another video to show this process.
  3. Hold board over water, so the bottom edge is touching the almost-boiling water.  With the metal spatula, scrape a little bit of the dough off the board into the water – dipping the bottom of the metal spatula into the water each time so the dough noodle comes off the spatula.  If it’s wet, the dough will not stick to it.  Click here for video.  Make sure water does not actually come to a boil – keep it close to boiling.  It may be helpful to keep extra water nearby to cool it down, if necessary.
  4. The noodles are done baking when they all float to the top of the water.
  5. Do a test batch of noodles.  Taste them and make any adjustments to batter, more salt in water, etc.
  6. Cook the rest of the dough / noodles in this manner – cooking one board’s worth of dough at a time.

Assemble Casserole:

  1. Spread out about half the spaetzle noodles, a thin layer of onions, and about half the cheese.
  2. Make a second layer the same way using the rest of the spaetzle noodles, onions, and topped with remaining cheese.
  3. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, until top just starts to turn golden.
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