This is a coarse German noodle that can be made by hand or with a device that looks something like an oversized garlic press. The best quality of this noodle is that it goes very well with sauces that are not quite so thick, such as those from casseroles or perhaps roasts. It soaks up the juices, has a nice texture and is filling and easy to make.

3 cups all purpose flour / plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs
water as needed

Mixing is a simple process of throwing all of the above ingredients into a bowl and mixing. The one required special technique is to pump air into the mixture by drawing a wooden spoon through the mixture by pulling the spoon from the bottom of the bowl through the mizture to the top. You'll know you are doing it right when you see bubbles start to rise at the surface of the dough. Mix until your arm aches and then some more. If you need more moisture in the mixture add another egg rather than some water. The eggs make it good.

To cook the spatzle bring a large quantity of water to boil. To make each noodle like spatzle, either use a "spatzle machine" or use the traditional method. Get a cutting board or other light flat surface (preferrably thin) and spread the dough thinly over the board. Using a long thin knife, or something else long and thin (maybe even a spatula), cut and slide off ribbons of dough into the water. Don't worry about odd shapes and formations. It takes some practice and suitable implements to get the shape even. It is good if you can process a batch quickly so that cooking times won't vary too much.

The dough will sink to the bottom of the water and rise as it cooks. Let the spatzle cook at the surface for 20 seconds or so. Harvest your reward from the water and place them into a colander or other draining device. I prefer to plunge them straight into a large bowl of cold water to keep them fresh and firm. If you taste test and they taste a little floury you haven't cooked them enough.

Serve them with lashings (that's lots and lots) of gravy or sauce from rouladen or sauerbraten (Sour roasted beef). Keep the leftovers in the fridge and fry them up the next day in some butter until they are nice and brown. You can even add an egg and other leftovers for a spatzle omelette.

These tiny German dumplings are simmered in water, in much the same manner as gnocchi. They are served in soups, or dressed in melted butter and used as an accompaniment to meat dishes and more often than not, cabbage. The traditional recipe calls for flour and eggs, but some variants include potato.

Originally the dumplings were made somewhat larger and were referred to as spätzen or sparrows, but as the years have gone by, they have reduced in size, a little fatter than a matchstick, and spätzle translates as, you guessed it, little sparrows.

There are high priced nifty gadgets that will make spätzle for you. You simply put the mixture into a reservoir, crank the handle and the dumplings pop out the bottom. If you own one of these, well and good, however I have an aversion to expensive kitchen trinkets that serve only one purpose, so I will give you an alternative method in this recipe.


  • 500 gm (1 lb) plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) water


    In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Crack the eggs into the mix and stir well with a wooden spoon. Pour in 100ml of the water and stir well. It should form a fairly stiff dough. Add more water or flour if necessary. Do not overwork the dough as this will ensure tough dumplings, and you don't want that. Rest the dough for an hour. This will also help the spätzle to be light and airy.

    Bring a large pot to the boil with salted water. Now here is the trick. Most recipes will just ask you to cut the dough with a knife, but hey, that's gnocchi! What you need is a large metal colander or steamer. Chinese steamers are perfect. You need the holes to be at least a ½ cm in diameter, but up to 2 cm is fine. The larger the holes, the larger the dumplings. Oil the colander or steamer and using a plastic pastry palette, or any pliable piece of plastic, scoop up some of the mix and scrape it across the holes and let the dumplings drop straight into the boiling water. Cook until they rise to the surface, then scoop out. Continue until all the mix is used.

    A small note on the spelling of spätzle. Without an umlaut, an "e" is inserted after the "a" to anglicise the word.
  • Spätzle are a south-german, or swabian speciality. The scraping method is the traditional one, the oversized garlic press one the most widely used. There is another method, involving a special (but not too expensive) device, a Spätzles-Plane. This looks like a grater for cheese, but with bigger holes that are not sharp. Attached is a square storage thing that's movable back and forth. You put the mix in the top, put the plane above the boiling water and start pushing the moveable part back and forth. The mix drops out at the bottom, resulting in a special form of Spätzle, known as "Bayerische Tropfenform".

    The most renowned recipies with Spätzle are Kässpätzle (Spätzle with Cheese) where you stack up the fresh hot Spätzles with Emmentaler (take about half as much cheese as you flour in the mix), and Spätzle mit Linsa und Soitawurscht (Spätzle with lentils and wiener sausages).

    In the world of Drosophila embryogenesis, Spätzle is the extracellular ligand of the receptor Toll. Dorsoventral axis formation during embryogenesis is established as the ubiquitously expressed Toll recognizes the gradient of Spätzle expression.

    Some of the other genes involved in dorsoventral axis formation include easter, nudel, gastrulation defective, tube, pelle, cactus, and dorsal. Easter, nudel, and gastrulation defective are involved in the proteolytic cleavage of the pro-Spätzle protein into the active form. The other genes are involved in the signal transduction downstream of the receptor Toll.

    A lot of this was worked out by Kathryn V. Andersen and Christiane Nusslein-Volhard. Important stuff, in the field of embryogenesis, and as it turns out, immunology, as the receptor for Spätzle, Toll, are similar to genes in mammals that are involved in recognizing microbes.

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