Thursday, May 28, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge May 2009: Strudel!

Stroodel. Strooodel. Say it with me. It's fun. I'm having fun saying strudel.
This month, I also got to have fun making strudel. (Strooodel, strooodel...). It's one of those lovely words that quickly loses all sense and just becomes a collection of appealing nonsense sounds.

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.

I was happy to see this challenge, not just because saying strudel is so much fun, but because Saveur recently ran an incredible photo spread on Viennese pastry, and I've been having warm thoughts about apfeltortes and the like ever since. Also, the recipe contained a new technique, and what else did I join Daring Bakers for? Lastly, this is exactly my kind of dessert, heaps of butter and fruit, nothing fancy or uber-decorated, and sans icing.
I put off making the recipe, though, for a while, because the dough-stretching process seemed frightening, and involved. It wound up being remarkably easy, but my strudel-luck just wasn't on this month. My first strudel turned into a pile of crumbs because I failed to read the directions and rolled it out on the counter. On a hot day. Paper thin dough does not like that. The rhubarb-apple filling was good, though. My second attempt went more smoothly, at first. I rolled out the dough on a napkin, pulled and stretched and everything went as planned. My filling, though, was not so cooperative--I used white peaches and both taste and texture were a little lacking. It didn't help that I sweetened them with some leftover purple sugar, which left them an unappetizing bluish gray. The peach mixture was so wet that despite the almond flour I subbed for the bread crumbs, I wound up with what Matt called a 'Star Trek Strudel.' I would have said Alien, but the point is clear. It has erupted.

I don't think I've quite mastered the art of strudel yet, but I don't think it's as complicated as I'm making it. The dough is surprising and fun, so I'll probably try again.

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
“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.


Catherine said...

i love that it made sense in context here to call DOUGH surprising and fun.

TeaLady said...

It was fun, wasn't it. And surprisingly easy. Star Trek Stroooooodel. Love it.

Laura said...

the strudel looks great, but practice makes perfect so keep trying and in not time you will be a pro!

Great bagels too, I am in BBA challenge too.