Combine kefir with yeast and brown sugar in a large bowl and whisk well. Wait a bit until the yeast foam appears to make sure the yeast is alive. Then add the egg and 1 teaspoon of salt and whisk well. Add 400 g of flour and mix first with a spoon. Then put your hand in it. The dough can be very wet, so stretch it out and then bang the dough against the sides of the bowl for as long as your patience and muscle strength allow. If you feel the dough is too wet, add the extra 50g of flour (but keep in mind: the wetter the dough, the fluffier the dumplings).
Wet your hands, fold the dough into a rough ball and put it in a large oiled bowl to rise (I just use the bowl I mixed everything in to save on washing up). Cover tightly with cling film or a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place. It should double in size, and depending on your kitchen temperature, it may take up to 1-2 hours. Or you can leave it in the fridge overnight.
Have 1-2 large, lightly oiled trays handy to place your dumplings on to rise after you cut them. When the dough is proudly puffed up, flour a work surface well and gently help the dough out of the bowl. It will be very soft and deflate upon touching the surface. Knead it gently. Enjoy this brief process and be tender.
Making sure the surface is well floured so the dough doesn’t stick, roll it out into a 30cm sheet. Now drizzle with clarified or regular butter and, using the palm of your hand, spread it all over the dough. Roll it up into a sausage shape, trim it along its length if necessary, and cut it into 16-18 pieces. They will look like cinnamon rolls. Place them snail side up and a few centimeters apart on the oiled trays and cover lightly with tea towels. (Be careful when choosing tea towels, as they can stick to the top if the dough is wet enough; linen is a good option.) Let rise for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the stew, pour the hot broth or water over the dried mushrooms in a bowl and soak them for at least 30 minutes.
Take the mushrooms out of their soaking liquid and put them in another bowl. Then strain the liquid in the bowl with the mushrooms through cheesecloth, to make sure no grain gets through.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and the knob of butter in a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt and cook over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. If the onions start to catch, simply add a little liquid to the mushrooms to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Cook the onions for as long as you have the patience or the time: another 15 minutes on low is fine, but if the onions look mushy and have taken on a bit of color, it will be good enough.
Take the onions out and put them in a bowl. Quarter or halve the Paris mushrooms, depending on their size. Add another 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan with the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Fry over medium-high heat until golden brown, then add to the onions.
Heat another 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan and add the potatoes. Cook them on each side until lightly browned. Now put the mushrooms and onions back in the pan, add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Pour in the mushroom broth, rehydrated mushrooms, another pinch of salt and a good grind of black or white pepper and stir gently. Cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat.
Now get ready! Bring your stew to a boil over medium-high heat. If your dumplings are quite soft and a bit sticky, use an oiled spatula or dough scraper to remove them from the tray; if not, pick them up with your hand. Add dumplings pretty/rolled side up; they will puff up, so leave at least 1cm between each one. Cover with a lid immediately after placing the last dumpling. Cook over medium-high heat for 20 minutes. The dumplings will puff up and be soaked in delicious stew juices on the bottom and fluffy on top.
I cannot describe the satisfaction this dish brings. Serve it with winter coleslaw or pickles or a side salad. It is also good with a glass of kefir. It’s best consumed the same day, but we love to puff it cold the next day if there’s some miraculously leftover. It is also light enough to eat on a rainy summer day.
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