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The Norfolk Dumpling

Published date: November 2018

The Norfolk Dumpling

You can’t beat a lovely warming stew on a cold winter’s day with a serving of soft Norfolk dumplings. The word ‘dumpling’ was born in Norfolk at the beginning of the 17th century, so the region has had a long relationship with this carbohydrate heavy accompaniment. The humble dumpling used to be a stomach-filling staple and was a great way to cheaply fill up hungry tummies and to distract attention from the fact that there probably wasn’t much meat in the stew, when times were hard.

Today, with the help of Mary Berry the dumpling is making a bit of a comeback. These delicious bubbling little buns come in many varieties, but the Norfolk dumpling is different from the rest as it doesn’t contain any suet. In Norfolk lingo these dumplings are known as ‘sinkers’ or ‘swimmers’ depending whether they are made well, and swim (float on top of the stew) or are too heavy and dense and sink to the bottom.

Norfolk Dumpling Recipe


  • 1lb and 1oz plain flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • ½ pint milk
  • Water
  • 1oz butter


Sift together 1lb of flour, 1tsp of salt and 2tsp baking powder into a large bowl. Add the egg and milk and enough water to get a soft light dough. Turn out the dough onto a floured board and knead together. Form into round dumplings with your hands. Add the dumplings carefully to a boiling stew or casserole and cover and simmer for at least 20 minutes.

Fresh or dried herbs can be added to the dough for some additional flavour. Will yours be swimmers or sinkers?

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