Kaspressknödel – the mountain top food
Alpine lifestyle often demands compromises in daily life that require adjustment to the environment and conditions. Back in the days, when the cattle farmers were leading their cow herds to the higher green mountain fields for the summer time, they often had no choice, but to take lightweight equipment and food with them. It took a while to reach the high destinations with the animals and they had to stay up there for the summer. There was simply no place in the backpacks to bring a variety of food and drinks with them. The meager choice were breads for the carbohydrates, eggs for the proteins, salt and herbs for the taste. The rest of the ingredients had to be found in above 2000 meters and they had to cook with whatever was there. Hence, the recipe of the Kaspressknödel was actually a gourmet dish up in high grounds. It consisted of old bread slices that already were too hard to eat, some eggs, since they could be stored without cooling for a longer time, milk and cheese from the cows, salad and herbs from outside the door of their wooden cabin. Still, this very old authentic recipe is also a favorite in the contemporary alpine kitchen.
It is all about simplicity
Despite the simple recipe with only a handful ingredients and a simple side dish – either salad or soup – the Kaspressknödel became a classic because of its unique rich flavour and spice combination. The cheese and the wild marjoram gives it an unforgettable, yet subtile twist on a solid ground. While being optimized in terms of nutrition and portability, it still has the characteristics of a highly satisfying and very tasty dish. Although the cheese and butter seem to make it heavy, the sides and the healthy herbs made it enjoyable, but nutritious enough to keep you going in those altitudes. When you hike and work in the mountains, this is exactly what you need when reaching the mountain top. The Kaspressknödel is a common item on the menus of the alpine cabins, the Almhütten that you find along the hiking routes.
The recipe for four persons
- 400 grams of old bread/rolls slices
- 200 grams of mountain cheese
- 1 onion
- 150 grams butter
- 150 ml milk
- 5 eggs
- 1 spoon marjoram
- Broth or salad as side dish
- Start by cutting the onions fine and roast them in a pan with a lot of butter on very low temperature for about 5 minutes. Add the milk, place it aside and let it cool down.
- Slice the bread very thin (about 1-2 millimeter slices) and put the slices into a bowl. Slice or cut the cheese in small cubes and put it in the bowl.
- Add the herbs and pour the onion milk over the bread. Add the eggs, salt and pepper and start kneading the dough with your hand.
- Form dumpling balls and put them into a pan with a lot of butter. Slightly press the dumplings a bit flat, to around 4 centimeters.
- Roast the Kaspressknödel now to a golden-brown outside, do not overfry. Just so that the dumlping is fully heated and the cheese inside is melting.
- Serve the hot dumpling with salad or in a soup.
Not only a classic, but a taste experience
When speaking of dishes that contain cheese, people often think about melting cheese over the dish itself. It is a different experience to have the cheese melting inside the dish, and to experience the roast flavours and the marjoram company in a fluffy but crusty eggy dough dumpling. You do not have to climb 3000 meters up a mountain, you do not have to take care of a cow herd, you do not even have to be abroad, but you can still enjoy this simple but flavour rich dish. The pro tip for this meal: Serve it with the side dish according to the outside temperatures: a salad in the summer time makes it a refreshing and light food. When you put the Knödel into hot soup, it will warm you up in cold times. Kaspressknödel literally means “pressed cheese dumpling”. This is due to the roasting process on lower temperature. When it is put into the pan, it is gently pressed flat a bit, so the dumpling does not get too crispy or overroasted, but the cheese inside is melting. Give it a try!