Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May 27: Daring Bakers' Apple 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.

Not a lot of rules this month from our hostesses, we have complete freedom for the filling and shaping of the dough. The only thing that's mandatory is to make the strudel dough.

For additional tips and technique, feel free to go the Linda's blog (make life sweeter!) and Courtney's blog (Coco Cooks). Many thanks to them for hosting this month's challenge.

Hmmm... Apple strudel??? Isn't that the the oblong danish looking pastry that's made from an enriched dough or puff pastry? Also, doesn't it have an icing?

One of the reasons I joined the Daring Bakers was to learn new techniques and make new foods. So imagine my surprise, when I read through the challenge, that I've been wrong about what a strudel is. I don't like being wrong. :-p I know it happens to the best of them. I guess I'll have to roll with the punches and somehow carry on.

So OUT!!! with my preconceived notion of strudel...

And... FORWARD!!!! to making a real strudel...

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

Strudel dough
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.

Lately I've been liking the food processor, especially for doughs.
Add all the ingredients into the food processor and apply ten 1-second pulses. Really simple and less mess!

After ten pulses, the dough balled up and pulled away from the sides.

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).

Now the fun part... kneading and throwing/slamming the dough onto the counter top. The dough is silky smooth and kind of stiff. Throwing the dough onto the counter is supposed to help align the gluten which makes for thinner sheets. True or cooking myth?
This stiff dough is supposed to stretch out very thin? Hmmm... Well see.

While the dough is resting, I moved onto the filling

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) I used Granny Smiths.

1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the cinnamon and sugar.

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.

Food processor again. 3 slices of whole wheat bread. I didn't have white bread so I used what I had. Again ten 1-second pulses.

Brown the bread crumbs in butter.

Stretching the Dough:
1. 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.

Here's my setup on my round kitchen table. I had a large box (16 inches x 32 inches) that I used as a platform... something from a YouTube video. Instead of a ruining a table cloth, I purchased an inexpensive ($4) twin bed flat sheet and cut it in half. White is best. You can bleach and wash it with no problems.

Dust the cloth with flour and rub the flour in.

Wow! After an hour rest, the dough is very pliable.

Very stretchy! I'm surprised.

2. 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 was able to stretch the dough thin enough to drape over the entire box. In fact, if I didn't use the box, I could have stretched the dough to cover a majority my dining table (41 inch diameter). No holes formed, but you can see there are spots that are almost transparent.

Thin enough to read something underneath.

Note/Hint: Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.

Filling the Dough

1. 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).

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.

I used a strainer to spread the bread crumbs and keep out the large chunks.

I thought I had walnuts, but I found pecans instead.

Mixing the apple filling

2. 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.

Using the cloth to lift and roll the studel. This is like rolling a giant sushi roll.

Rolled and ready to transfer to a baking sheet.

Brush with butter and bake.

3. 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 actually baked about 40-45 minutes. I lost track of time.
HINT: If you don't use parchment, remember to grease the pan or in this case the aluminum foil. This strudel had a stickage problem.

Now that I've made the basic recipe... This is my "creative version of strudel.

Breakfast Strudel
The rolled strudel looked like a giant burrito. So I decided to make a breakfast strudel akin to my breakfast burritos.

Supplemented the bread crumbs with crumbled bacon.
Instead of walnuts, I used sliced breakfast sausage.
No apples... Potatoes fried with onions, mushrooms and spinach.

Wait! There's more...
A layer of bacon gravy, scrambled eggs and cheese.

Rolled and baked for 30 minutes! I remembered to set the timer this time. :)

Right out of the oven, looking like a baguette.

The Finished Strudel

The apple strudel... still slightly warm. Nice apple pie-like filling with a light crust. I think some ice cream on the side would have been nice. Personally, I'm not a big fan of warm apples. To me, the strudel tasted much better strudel the next day when cooled.

My breakfast strudel... which I had for dinner. lol :)
Thinly sliced and served on more gravy, topped with a little grated cheese and hot sauce.

Overall, I enjoyed the challenge. The recipe was very straight forward. Originally, I had my misgivings about the dough, but that stuff stretched out very thinly. Best of all I learned something new and corrected a misconception on what a strudel is.


Audax said...

Your pictures and comments are always a joy and I love the b'fest strudel. What a processor since it makes life so fast and clean. Yes I was a little nervous about stretching the dough but was overjoyed it was so easy to stretch to a very large area about twice the recipe area. I will be using the dough again and again I love it. Cheers from Audax

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

Just how far this dough could be stretched surprised me too.
Looks good. I'm not surprised you decided to have the breakfast for dinner. :)

You had a misconception about the strudel, I didn't even know what tatsted like! :D

Jo said...

I'm glad you threw out the toaster strudel and decided to do your own. Great job and love the flavours. You certainly managed to stretch it until tissue paper thin. Amazing.

Anna said...

I could lick the screen! The pics are great and your strudel looks fantastic! Great job!

Anonymous said...

LOL@ the X'ed out toaster strudel! That said, your photos and strudels came out gorgeous, and I'm in love with the breakfast strudel, so much so, that it almost made me forget my pain and develop an appetite again! :)

Lauren said...

Your strudels look amazing!!! I love your photos =D.

Teenie said...

Your strudels look delish. Liked the idea of that breakfast strudel - I'll have to give that a try. I should've used fresh breadcrumbs instead of prefab - it might've made all the difference.

I do love those toaster strudels :)

Jenny said...

Wow, you managed to stretch your dough so thin! I never got it to that thinness. And I wouldn't mind a slice of that breakfast - or was it dinner? - strudel. :) Great job!