The flagship dish of Swabia, a region of southwestern Germany, can be found all over the world. Not least because of their taste and the easy preparation with only three ingredients: eggs, flower and water, spätzle make an ideal accompaniment to meat dishes, e.g. goulashes.
They also enjoy solo performances, simply fried in butter, with spinach or minced liver (Leberspätzle) added to the dough or with cheese (Käsespätzle). They are the main ingredient in another Swabian signature dish, Gaisburger Marsch, a beef spätzle soup with veggies.
The preparation of spätzle can be traced back to the 18th century, with written records going back as far as 1725. For a long time they were considered a poor man’s dish.
Nowadays with the increased mobility of people, Swabians living abroad and students studying in Germany, spätzle have embarked on an international career. The author’s son, for example, took a wooden board and a kitchen scraper to Jordan to make home-made spätzle to share with his colleagues and friends in Amman.
In 2012, Swabian Spätzle and Swabian Knöpfle (a shorter and thicker version) have been awarded the EU quality seal for "Protected Geographical Indications (PGI)" and are protected throughout Europe as a regional specialty.
Spätzle is the Swabian diminutive of Spatz (sparrow). Before the use of mechanical devices, the dough was shaped by hand or with a spoon and the results looked like Spatzen (plural of Spatz).
Spatz, or Spätzle is often used in southern Germany to say “darling“.
Life without spätzle is possible but wouldn’t make sense - based on a quotation from Loriot and in free adaptation
The dish is traditionally prepared by hand, with a spätzle board and a kitchen scraper or a knife.
Alternatively you can use a spätzle press, a potato ricer, or a colander with big holes.
- 500g flour
- 5 eggs (M)
- 185 - 250ml water
- 1 pinch of salt
Put the flour in a bowl. Mix in eggs, water and salt with a wooden spoon or hand mixer until the dough gets bubbles and flows slowly from the spoon without tearing.
Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Boil the salted water in a large saucepan and scrape the dough in portions from the board, or press it in with the spätzle maker or potato ricer.
Bring to the boil once, take out with the slotted spoon and place in a bowl with cold water.
Appetite for more?
The Spätzle Museum (in German):
Spätzle is often used … to say “darling”
all Photos: © Berta Duane