Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Daring Baker: Strudel

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

So the challenge was strudel. I thought it was lots of fun. I have never made strudel before and it seemed like a nice chance to get my hands into some dough.

I started out making the strudel for a dinner party we were attending, but things got a bit waylaid. I made the dough but things didn’t work out to make the filling, and after the dough had been in the fridge for a week it was VERY elastic. So I tossed it. There was just absolutely no way I could have gotten it to actually stretch. It just snapped back.

The next batch of dough I made was perfect. It stretched so easily. I got some tiny tears, but mainly because I got impatient because my back began to hurt, not form the actual making of the dough, but because I injured it last week.

The first one I filled with a great nut mixture.
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 cups chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, and almonds)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
The actual pictures of the mixture by itself looked completely unappealing (actually quite disgusting, I thought it looked pretty gross as I was making it.)
Here it is after baking.

The picture of the finished product looks like meat!

The second one I filled with a citrus and cheese mixture.

  • 1 to 1-1/2 lb. dry cottage cheese
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp. sour cream
  • juice of a lime
  • Zest of a couple lemons and limes
I didn’t get the cottage cheese dry enough so it was a bit wet and so it ended-up busting through the dough. But it still tasted great.

I thought it would be fun to garnish with some candied citrus. So I learned how to do that as well.
  • 2-3 limes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • A little more sugar for coating
1. Slice limes into thin rounds, blanch in a pot of boiling water for 2 min & drain.
2. In the same pot, combine water & 1 cup sugar. Bring to a simmer & add lime slices. Simmer for 10-15 min, till white pith of limes looks translucent (May take longer if pith is especially thick or dense).
3. Drain & spread out on a cooling rack to dry for at least 1 hour.
4. Put 2 tbsp sugar in shallow bowl or saucer. When limes are dry, coat both sides of the lime slices by pressing them into the sugar (May need more sugar for good coverage).
5. Store in an airtight container & layer between parchment paper or plastic wrap till ready to use. You can freeze & then just take out what you need to use.





Here is the recipe as I received it.

(Please also read the tips and notes on the trial runs Courtney and Linda did. You'll find them below the recipes.)

Preparation time
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes
15-20 min to make dough
30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough
10 min to fill and roll dough
30 min to bake
30 min to cool

Apple strudel
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
  • strudel dough (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)
1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.
3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.
4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.
5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

  • 1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.
2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).
3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.
4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Tips
- Ingredients are cheap so we would recommend making a double batch of the dough, that way you can practice the pulling and stretching of the dough with the first batch and if it doesn't come out like it should you can use the second batch to give it another try;
- The tablecloth can be cotton or polyester;
- Before pulling and stretching the dough, remove your jewelry from hands and wrists, and wear short-sleeves;
- To make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table;
- Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.
Both Courtney and I did a trial run on making the strudel. Below are our notes:

Courtney's notes
- She couldn't get it to stretch to 2 feet by 3 feet, it turned out more like 2 feet by 2 feet. But the dough was tissue thin nevertheless;
- She got some serious holes, but after rolling it wasn't noticeable;
- She used a large cheese cloth which helped manipulate and stretch the dough more than a heavier cloth would have.

Linda’s notes
- I made the dough by hand, just mixed the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Kneaded it for about 5 min like you would bread dough. This worked as well. Haven't tried using a stand mixer so I don't know how it compares.
- Instead of cider vinegar I used red wine vinegar;
- I used bread flour;
- Picking up the dough to let it stretch didn't work well for me, holes appeared pretty much instantly. Instead I stretched the dough while it was lying on the tablecloth by putting my hands underneath and stretching it out further and further;
Here's a link to a strudel making video that might help you a bit.

5 comments:

  1. corn honey ... is that like corn syrup? Is it something Southern?

    This looks like fun ... I hope my back heals so that I can try it. In the mean time, it makes me want to thaw the phylo dough I have in the freezer and bake!

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  2. OH! I just watched the strudel making video ... it's sooooo sweet! And, fun to watch (a peep into a family reuion???) ... and helpful (between my tears of sentimental joy and giggles).

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  3. Your strudel looks delicious. Great job!

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  4. So next time you come "home" you should cook for me. Just kidding, that would be fun to cook though. Maybe we could make a super delectible dinner for Chris and Tyler.

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