Make dumplings from scratch by combining 2 cups of flour with a scant teaspoon of baking powder, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of shortening, and 1 pinch each of salt and pepper. Add 3/4 cup of water, then roll and cut the dough. Cook the dumplings in simmering liquid.
Adjust the amount of water as needed to achieve a soft but workable ball of dough. Add flour to your rolling surface to prevent sticking, and roll the dough into a thin sheet to produce delicate, tender dumplings that cook quickly. You can cut the dough into circles, squares or irregular shapes.
Drop the pieces into a pot of simmering water or chicken broth. Add only a few dumplings at a time to keep them from sticking together. Allow the dumplings to cook for about 15 minutes. Dumplings float to the top when done. Serve dumplings by placing them into bowls and ladling hot broth or soup over the top.
You can make a slightly richer dumpling by enriching the dough with eggs, oil, butter, sugar, milk or a combination of these extra ingredients. Many cooks add parsley to their dumpling dough for extra color and flavor. Baking powder or baking soda work as leaveners in some recipes, producing puffy, ball-like dumplings.