Hearty winter stew with herby dumplings, by Val Stones

24 January, 2022
Herby dumplings

Our wonderful baking expert, Val Stones, wowed the nation when she appeared on The Great British Bake Off in 2016. She now kindly shares recipes with us that your whole family will love. Her unctuous stew with dumplings is a simple but warming wintry crowd-pleaser.

When the days are short and a chill sets in, it’s prime time to make a warm hearty meal.

When my children were young, I learned to make two meals at once so that when I came home the following evening, dinner would only need a little preparation. My stew on the second day could be piled into a pie dish and topped with shortcrust pastry to become a pie, then served with more in-season produce. Dumplings are quick to make and my family’s favourite comfort food. I opt for rump steak because it cooks quickly, there is no waste and it makes excellent gravy. If you’re cutting back on meat, then simply increase the veggies for an extra nourishing meal.


  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 500g diced rump steak
  • 3tbsp plain flour, seasoned with a little salt and pepper
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 400ml beef stock
  • 100ml red wine
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 500g red potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 sticks celery, trimmed and diced
  • 400g butter beans
  • 2 tbsp gravy granules

For the dumplings

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 100g suet
  • Pinch salt/pepper
  • ½ teaspoon mixed herbs


  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C fan, 350-375°F, gas mark 4-5
  2. Place the seasoned flour on a plate and toss the meat until it is well coated, then place in a frying pan with hot oil and brown off. Once browned, place in a large casserole pot
  3. Add the onions, garlic, mixed herbs, smoked paprika, tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, thyme, bay leaves, beef stock and red wine. Stir well, then cover the pot and place in the oven for one hour or until the meat is tender
  4. Remove the stew from the oven and stir. Add a little water if needed, then add the carrots, potatoes, celery, turnip and butter beans and place on the hob to simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are almost cooked
  5. Reset the oven to 200°C fan, 475°F, gas mark 6
  6. While the vegetables are cooking, make the dumplings. Place the flour, suet, seasoning and herbs into a bowl, stir well to combine them, then add sufficient water to make a firm but pliable dough. Add the water a tablespoon at a time so the dough won’t become too soft. Roll the dough into 12 small balls and set them aside
  7. To thicken the stew, place the gravy granules in a small bowl or jug and add sufficient water to make the gravy liquid. Pour this into the stew and stir (keep stirring to prevent lumps forming!)
  8. Place the dumplings on the top of the stew, cover with a lid and place in the oven so that the dumplings can steam for 10 minutes. Remove the casserole lid (the dumplings should have risen)
  9. Continue to bake for 15 minutes or until the dumplings are risen and golden around the edges
  10. Serve immediately, accompanied with vegetables of your choice - we like garden peas, broccoli, sprouts and more carrots

Inspired by Val’s comfort cooking and hungry for more? Read her full range of blogs – from her tips and twists on traditional bakes to tasty cakes to satisfy that sweet tooth after your yummy stew.

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