This lovely apricot dumplings recipe is from a cookbook written by Eva Oswalt between 1943 and 1945 while she was imprisoned at Ravensbrūck concentration camp.
Eva survived the camp, although most of her family did not survive the war. The cookbook is now archived at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and to honor Holocaust Remembrance Day I made these. I will continue to make them yearly in Eva’s name.
There are elements of the recipe that need to be added, like the mention of apricots in the ingredients list. Personal recipes are usually shorthand for the writer, which is why they don’t always make sense to others when they try following them.
When I posted this recipe a year ago I didn’t feel comfortable adding anything to it, it felt wrong. I wanted to faithfully reproducer her words, but when I make them I have my own additions that were required. Now I want to add them, because Eva’s recipe deserves to be a functioning recipe, and it can’t be without everything explicitly marked out. I combed through traditional apricot dumplings recipes and I’ve added a few elements here for clarity; they are marked with two asterisks to denote the additions. I can only hope they live up to Eva’s family traditions.
Eva’s recipe was written without daily access to the barest minimum of food to survive, let alone the loveliness of fresh fruit and butter. Writing down recipes, or food memories, was not uncommon for many imprisoned in concentration camps, as was making art, music, and writing poetry, as much as possible in such abject horrible conditions.
Eva Oswalt’s Apricot Dumplings
150g potato flour (Note: this is not the same thing as potato starch)
** Apricots for filling, 10 small to medium fresh apricots
** Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
** Whipped cream for serving, optional
Knead everything together, form a wrapper ** Divide the dough into 10 even pieces. Dust the work surface lightly with all-purpose flour, then use your hands to flatten each piece of dough slightly. Gently wrap each piece of dough around an apricot, pinching well to seal.
Fill with apricots and a piece of sugar and cook in boiling saltwater ** Reduce the water to a simmer, then drop the dumplings into the water. Cook until the apricots are tender and the dough is fully cooked, 12 to 15 minutes. At first, they’ll sink into the water, but once they’re finished, they’ll start to float towards the surface.
Add butter and breadcrumbs on top ** While the dumplings cook, toast the buttered breadcrumbs in a small pan over medium heat until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Return to the bowl and stir in the granulated sugar. Use a slotted spoon to remove the dumplings and drain well. Gently roll each in the toasted breadcrumb mixture to fully coat.
** To serve, dust the dumplings generously with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with whipped cream if desired.
Eva Ostwalt was born in Cologne, Germany, to Jewish parents. She had two younger sisters, Kate and Trude. In 1927, Eva moved with her daughter, Heidemarie, and non-Jewish husband to Dresden. Eva and Karl later divorced, and Eva received custody of Heidemarie. Mother and daughter moved to Merano, Italy. When Eva’s passport expired in 1938, she had to return to Germany. Believing that Heidemarie would be safer with her father, Eva gave custody back to Karl in Dresden. Eva returned to Cologne, where both she and her mother Else were eventually caught by the SS. Else was sent to Auschwitz, where she was killed. Eva was sent to Ravensbrück in 1943.
Near the end of the war, she was forced on a death march, from which she escaped. Eva eventually returned to Dresden to find her daughter. She arrived to find the town in ruin from air raids, and learned that Heidemarie had died from the attacks.
Original posted on January 27, 2021 — updated for clarity January 11, 2022.