Knefflies - The KI Version of Spaetzle or Knoephla


So what do you call this noodle? Knoephla or spaetzle?

A little research unearthed various thoughts about this evasive noodle or dumpling. Some from Switzerland call the noodle "spaetzle" and add nutmeg; the German counterparts call it "knoephla" and use milk. There are different variations and names across Europe, but here on Kelleys Island, the Elfers family nailed its own version: knefflies.

Our hand-me-down KI "Knefflie" has four ingredients: flour, egg, salt and good old water. That's it!

We have German ancestry on both our grandma's (Elfers) side of the family and our grandpa's (Beatty) side of the family - and we weren't really sure how this recipe came about. Upon consultation with family elders, our KI Knefflie recipe comes from the Elfers (German) side of the family - and was passed down by our French & Native American great-grandma! No wonder our "KI Knefflie Recipe" is a little different from the traditional German or European noodle.

So a little about the Elfers family. Henry Elfers (our great-great grandpa) came to America from Hannover, Saxony (a German state) in 1859 and in 1860 was  living with our great-great grandfather, Ludwig Bette (Americanized to Louis Beatty). In the 1860 census, Henry's occupation was a vine dresser and we assume it to be for Louis's farm as his was living with the Beatty family. Henry eventually purchased his own KI land and continued as a grape farmer. 

Henry's son, Charles Walter Elfers, married our French & Native American (Miami) great-grandma, Rose Morross. Born in 1882 (yes the author remembers her), Rose Morross Elfers gave all of her children the family KI Knefflie recipe. I contacted two of her granddaughters and they recited the recipe by heart (that the KIYC partners also know by heart) and told us exactly who gave each of them the recipe. As one granddaughter explained, "You know how this goes. Rose probably wanted the recipe to make for her new husband and got it from Henry's mom, Caroline Peters Elfers." So there it is.

And our mom believed the versatile KI Knefflie could be served as a side to fried perch, pork or beef roast. With perch, knefflies would be served with butter, salt & pepper (and maybe a little sauteed bacon and onion) . With beef roast, she would make a gravy and coat the knefflies with the gravy. With pork roast - sauerkraut was served on top of the knefflies. And this hearty noodle could be added to her infamous soups. Since our mom remembered KI without reliable electricity - we can imagine the simple ingredients of flour, egg, salt and water - served the Kelley Islanders well during the Great Depression as well as long winters. Perhaps milk was eliminated when it was not available - we will likely never know.

And now for the recipe:

Mix together: for every 1 c. of flour, add two eggs and a drizzle (plus or minus 4 oz of water) and a couple dashes of salt. I was making a small batch by hand (below). Larger batches can be made with the paddle of your large electric mixer.

Here's what the slightly sticky consistency should look like before the drop: (and I am pretty excited I was able to change the html code on this blog to insert a video):


The next step: bring a pot of water to a boil & boil the knefflies for 5-8 minutes. Now the family elder described how to manually get the dough as noodles into the pot, she said "hold the bowl of dough over the boiling water, tilt the bowl so dough is slightly pouring out, and cut off a glob with a knife." Luckily, there are now spaetzle makers you can buy from your second favorite retailer (we know KIYC is the first) and this is how the process looks with the spaetzle maker:


Now about the above video. Do not use a shallow pan like the one I used in the video - you will likely burn your hands. Choose a nice deep stock pot and  fill about 1/3 of pot with water - or whatever amount of water you need to cook the noodles. I used the shallow pan - so you could see what was going on inside of the spaetzle maker and inside of the pot. Use appropriate caution when preparing this dish.

Look at how easy those noodles are prepped! Now when they are done boiling, drain them and coat - either with butter or a gravy from the main dish you are serving. Eat and enjoy. They can be reheated and eaten as leftovers. That's our recipe!