Dumplings refers to dough that is portioned, then fried, steamed or boiled. Dumplings also range in uses, ingredients and textures, from pork-filled pot stickers that are served on their own, to simple pieces of batter dropped into simmering stew and served swimming among other ingredients. Dumplings, typically made from wheat flour, benefit some cornstarch in the mix to make the texture silkier. But the dough will fall apart if it's all cornstarch, so you need to use cornstarch mixed with wheat flour.
Thought of primarily as a flavorless thickener for sauces and stews, cornstarch is also a good way to make baked goods more tender. Avoid lumps when preparing the powder by sieving it before adding to other dry goods in a recipe. Cornstarch also does not freeze well -- only use the powder in fresh dumplings and do not freeze the prepared dough.
Add cornflour to a dumpling recipe to make the end product silkier. The surrounding sauce will also thicken if adding the cornstarch to drop dumplings, where the dough is cooked in a stew or soup. Substitute 10 to 15 percent of cornstarch or corn flour for the amount of regular all-purpose flour called for in a recipe. For example, if 1 cup of wheat flour is called for, reduce the amount by 1/8 cup and replace it with cornstarch. Mix the dough according to the recipe instructions.
Types of Dumplings
Use a small amount of cornstarch on the outside of any made dumpling dough, including dumpling, or potsticker, wrappers. The cornstarch can be used to flour surfaces when rolling out the dough and cutting it. Dust traditional European drop dumplings, which are traditionally added to soups or stews, with the cornstarch. This will thicken the surrounding liquid and make the overall meal thicker. Leave the dough plain if you're using the dumplings to top casseroles or baked goods, simply covering with a butter or egg wash before baking for extra browning.
Do not confuse cornstarch or corn flour with cornmeal, as this is a thicker, less finely ground version of corn. Cornstarch can also be added to rice dough dumplings -- substitute in the same amount of cornstarch to the recipe, replacing 10 to 15 percent of the rice flour with cornstarch. Do not add too much cornstarch, as this can result in a dry texture in the dumplings.
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Based in Kingston, Canada, Samantha Lowe has been writing for publication since 2006. She has written articles for the "Mars' Hill" newspaper and copy for various design projects. Her design and copy for the "Mars' Hill" won the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker award in 2008. Lowe holds an Honors BA from Trinity Western University, and a MSc in Occupational Therapy from Queen's University where she is currently doing her PhD.