Recipes, Retro Cooking

Retro Cooking: 1940’s Maple Dumplings

This year, for Quebec National Day, I wanted to try making an old-school Quebec dessert that I had never tried but always intrigued me. In French, it is called “Grands-pères dans le sirop” which translates to “Grandpas in syrup”. Basically, it is dough poached in maple syrup. Now, I bet you are wondering about the origin of the weird name…and honestly I was too. All I could find online is either that 1) the dish was soft enough for grandpas to eat or 2) grandpas were often given the easy task to tend on the poaching dumplings. I know, this isn’t a very satisfying explanation for such a quirky name…thankfully, the dish itself turned out to be so good, you quickly forget the name and focus on the delicious taste.

After browsing a few recipes online, I realized it was silly to look at a modern resource for a traditional recipe, especially when I have a few great old-school cookbooks on my bookshelf. I pulled out a cookbook brought to me by my mom, once belonging to my grandma. The book is bilingual (French-English), published in 1940 and published by A.Bélanger Limitée, as a way to sell their cooking ranges. Traditional Canadian Recipes / Cuisine Typiquement Canadienne was written by Mrs. Rose Lacroix, with illustrations by Mr. Jean Simard. I used this cookbook a few years ago to make meat-ball stew that turned out wonderfully well so I felt good using this source again.

Now for the goodies. This recipe was so very simple and the result was super delicious. While the recipe is obviously divine with maple syrup, if you don’t have easy access to large quantities of it, there is an easy substitute suggested as well, which is nice. Because, let’s be honest, good maple syrup is expensive!

Grands-Pères dans le sirop - Maple Dumplings

  • Servings: 6
  • Source: Traditional Canadian Recipes by A. Bélanger Limitée
  • Print

If you don’t have maple syrup, the original cookbook recommends substituting with 2 cups of brown sugar, 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of maple extract.


  • 1 cup of sifted flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of shortening
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 2 cups of maple syrup


  1. Sift the flour, then sift again with the baking powder and the salt.
  2. Add the shortening, cut into small pieces and mix like you would to make pie crust. (I used a fork)
  3. Pour the milk in all at once and mix quickly. You should get a firm, malleable dough. (I then divided my dough, with the full recipe, you should get 12 balls of dough)
  4. Heat the maple syrup in a saucepan, until it boils.
  5. Drop in the dough balls. Cover the saucepan and let the dough poach without boiling for 12 to 15 minutes. Avoid lifting the lid as much as possible.

Recommendations and notes:

  • I used coconut oil instead of shortening. It worked fine. I think butter would work well too.
  • Instead of using two cups of maple syrup, I used 1 cup of maple syrup and 1 cup of water and it tasted just as good.
  • I ended up making a half-recipe since I was the only one eating it but you could easily make more or less. It’s such a simple recipe, I feel like it would be hard to really mess it up.
  • If you make a large quantity, consider poaching the dumplings in batches. They will grow as they cook so you don’t want them to run out of space.
  • Don’t throw away the poaching liquid! While you will use most of it to serve the dumplings, I highly recommend keeping any extra you might have. The texture is nice and thick, like a delicious maple sauce. I plan on using my leftovers on vanilla ice cream.
  • This dish is best served warm. If you put leftovers in the fridge and quickly hear them in the microwave before eating them. They will still be still delicious.

Really, I can’t recommend this recipe enough. It’s so easy to do, I’m pretty sure it’s foolproof and the result is so decadent. I can see why this used to be a staple at my grandma’s Sunday family dinners!

9 thoughts on “Retro Cooking: 1940’s Maple Dumplings”

  1. So glad to find this blog. This dessert looks just delicious. Whenever we had leftover biscuits, my mother would warm them up just a bit (no microwaves then, so the often), butter them, and put maple syrup on them. My parents were Italian-Americans, she from PA and my father from Maine, so she must have learned this trick while living in Boston or from New England family that included a few married=in Quebeckers. A bit similar to this dessert.

    1. I didn’t think about using biscuits but, you’re right, that would be delicious too! One basic dessert growing up was making a little dipping cup of maple syrup and dipping a slice of white bread in it. Let’s just agree that anything becomes amazing when it is covered in maple syrup! 😉

  2. Our family has a similar recipe that looks pretty much like this one! One difference is that we diluted the maple syrup half and half with water, but it was still plenty sweet! We loved them as kids, and I make them now and then for the larger family gatherings to keep the recipe alive. Everyone adores them!

    1. Oh that’s interesting! Which region are you from, if you don’t mind me asking? So I never had maple dumplings when I was growing up but one of my favorite dessert was thick country bread quickly dipped in boiling half syrup, half water. We’d refrigerate it and eat it with a splash of heavy cream. It was heaven!

      1. My mothers parents were from Île d’Orléans
        on the St. Lawrence near Quebec City. I think the half syrup/water was used in a lot of applications. In our family, we called then simply “pépés” or grandfathers!

      2. Aww, Île d’Orléans is my favorite place! Also my mom’s side of the family (where they eat maple dumplings) is from Quebec City so there’s probably a regional link there. 😊

      3. I don’t think we have these names in our family history. My grandparent’s family names in the Quebec region were Gravel and Goulet.

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