When I saw this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge I knew that it would be something I couldn’t wait to take on because I’ve always wondered how such a small ball of dough can actually end up stretched over such a large area and so impossibly thin. But then a few things happened that have have caused a bit of a commotion in our house. Ironically, I ended up putting it together at the last minute, which is seemingly the norm I’ve established over the past two years. In this case, however, the timing was perfect, and I was able to spend the day in my kitchen doing what I enjoy, which seems to have been just what was needed to soothe the savage beast. I owe big thanks to this month’s hosts for their excellent choice.
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.
This challenge required that we make the pastry either by hand or machine, but we were able to choose whether we wanted to construct a sweet or savory strudel. Because the dough seemed to be fairly simplistic, I decided to avoid taking my Kitchen Aid down from its perch (always a good decision considering its weight) and make it by hand. With respect to the fillings, I couldn’t ignore the tradition of an apple filling since I love apple in desserts, but decided to make it my own. I also decided to make a savory strudel using mushrooms and leeks. Suffice it to say that our evening meal was full of strudel and that we retired with smiles on our faces. Serious smiles.
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.
- I doubled the recipe knowing I’d be making both a dessert and a savor strudel.
- I used rice vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar.
- I split the oil quantity between canola and roasted hazelnut (which is quite the lovely addition to any dish that you’d like a flavor that’s something out of the ordinary).
- My dough was extremely sticky. “Rough on the surface” doesn’t quite describe it. I had to employ the technique mentioned when we made Julia Child’s French Bread of using just one hand to knead so that I could use the other for scraping up what was stuck to my flourless counter. Definitely sticky and gooey dough that never quite forms a ball in my experience.
- I allowed the dough to sit for about three hours because I had other things to do. I decided to take liberties with the “longer is better” note in the original directions.
- I never rolled the dough. I picked it up, began to stretch it, and when it was too large to hold, placed it on the flour covered table cloth and continued to stretch it.
- My dough ended up more of a square than a rectangle — approximately 24″ x 24″. I’m sure that constitutes as cheating. Perhaps telltale holes in said dough will save me in the long run.
- Rolling the dough over the filling with the table cloth was super easy and worked very well.
- The directions said to make a horseshoe with the filled strudel, so I did. It wasn’t very attractive.
- I baked it about 10 minutes longer than directed as it never seemed to get brown.
- Cooled about 1 hour, it was easy to slice through with a serrated knife, after being properly dusted with powdered sugar — whether it was supposed to have been or not.
- Quite the lovely flavor. Not cloyingly sweet, nor fully of thick syrup, it was light and satisfying. Delicious, actually. And the next morning, kept at room temperature, but wrapped in plastic, it was lovely. The pastry holds up quite nicely.
- I am quite surprised this was as easy as it was. Well, easy in that I didn’t throw the dough anywhere but the counter like I was directed. Now the challenge is to make a sheet of the dough larger than I managed this time!
Dessert: Apple Hazelnut Filling
juice from one fresh lemon
2 tablespoons (45 ml) golden raisins
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) extra fine sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1-1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs (see notes below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) hazelnuts, roasted and coarsely chopped
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 cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and set aside.
2. Squeeze the lemon over the sliced apples, add the raisins and dried cranberries and lightly toss. Cover well with plastic wrap if not using immediately. Right before filling the strudel, add the cardamom sugar mixture and toss until dissolved.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook while stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Pour out onto a baking sheet and let cool completely, stirring occasionally if necessary.
3. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment. 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 hazelnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. If you haven’t already added the cardamom sugar mixture to the apples, do it now, mix well, and spread over the hazelnuts.
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.
- I used Granny Smith apples and one lonely Braeburn to get to the 2 lbs. requirement in the recipe. Unfortunately, I ended up with twice the filling I needed so froze the rest for a tart or crumble, cobbler, or buckle. Perhaps ice cream? Now that would be amazing.
- To make the fresh bread crumbs, I used the remaining piece of my Greek Celebration bread, redolent of lovely orange and spice. Perfect for this. The aroma was heavenly.
Dinner: Mushroom and Leek Filling
2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 c. mushrooms, sliced
2 T garlic, minced, about 4 cloves
1 lg. shallot, chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 leek, sliced and rinsed, white and light green parts only
1/4 c. flat-leafed parsley, chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme
3 T marsala
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan
3 T unsalted butter, melted
Pour the olive oil in a skillet and heat over medium. Add the leeks and shallots to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and allow to cook until the moisture is released, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Pour in the marsala and allow to cook, stirring until all the moisture is evaporated, about 3-5 minutes. Add the herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow to cool off the stove.
Melt the butter and carefully apply to the prepared strudel dough as directed above. Sprinkle half the Parmesan over the lower 6″ of the dough and pour on the mushroom filling. Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan over the filling. Roll the dough around the filling as before and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Tuck the ends under the strudel and brush the top with melted butter. Sprinkle over grated Parmesan if desired.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to sit about 15 minutes before slicing to serve. Serve warm, or at room temperature.
- I made this with what I had on hand in the fridge and was very satisfied. The possibilities are endless as long as the filling isn’t too moist. It’s important if you plan to use mushrooms to make sure all the moisture is cooked from them.
- Although we truly enjoyed this, I wondered about a light sauce that might be served with it — dijon, or creme fraiche. Not necessary, but I’m curious.
- We enjoyed this with a simple green salad.