Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Apple Strudel: A Daring Bakers' Challenge

Guess what? It's that time again -- Daring Bakers' Challenge time!

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.

Apple Strudel is not one of those desserts I'd normally think to make so, yet again, the DBers have pushed me to try new things. (Which is a good thing.) And strudel is a lot easier to make than I thought.

The dough came together quickly -- throw some flour, water, vinegar, salt and oil together, then knead -- and it was fairly easy to roll/pull out and make thin. The filling was as easy as, well if not pie, then strudel filling. And then you roll the whole thing up, put it in the oven and, presto, you've got yourself some strudel.

I would have preferred a sweeter filling; perhaps I'd add more sugar (and cinnamon) to the apples in the future, or try something else entirely (a sweet cheese filling mixed with Nutella?). The pastry, however, was just as a strudel should be: flaky and crispy.

Despite my quibbles, I had seconds with vanilla ice cream. As did Shane, Kian and my friends Jenny and Nancy, so how bad could it have been?


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
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)
strudel dough (recipe below)
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.

8 comments:

Snooky doodle said...

oh this looks delicious. I thought it was more difficult to make. I ve never tried it but surely I ve eaten it and its delicious. Yummy

Hilary said...

The filling wasn't very sweet at all, was it? I liked that about it but was expecting something more sugary.

sleepingbearinthekitchen said...

Did I hear Nutella??? Now that would definitely get me going!!! And "presto" is 100% correct, this was definitely much simpler than expected. Great job on the dough!!!

glamah16 said...

Ice cream would make it eeeeven better, But I love that the dough is not intimidating anymore. Great job.

kellypea said...

Thankfully, we didn't have vanilla ice cream to go with our seconds! I need ice cream like I need a hole in the head -- hahahaha! Nice job on this. And I agree, I probably wouldn't have tried it otherwise -- I was too chicken!

Jo said...

Looks really delicious and great job on this month's challenge.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

...a lot easier to make than I thought. YES and that really was a surprise wasn't it.
Sweeter you wanted sweeter ... I really thought it was pretty perfect, though I did like it better with brown sugar than white.
Beautiful strudel.

Chris said...

Looks lovely! I think eating this with ice cream was a perfect combination.:) I fact, I think I need to go get some now! ;) Great job!