Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Apple Strudel

Believe it or not, it's Daring Bakers time again. This month, the gang made... (drum roll please)... Apple Strudel!

Yeah! I've been wanting to try apple strudel forever, but have been too chicken (bock, bock).

And now a word from our sponsors...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.

Enough yappin', let's get to it. I'm going to let the pictures speak for me today since I have nothing interesting to say (unlike all those other days when I have really interesting, important things to say, coughcough).

First, we start with a simple dough and give it a nice little rest and then... (this is where we step into uncharted territory, for me anyway) roll it out on a floured cloth.

Next comes a slightly strange, unfamiliar process of stretching the dough with your hands until it's paper thin.

...keep going...

...almost there...


OK, so that wasn't so hard. (I recommend spending some confidence-boosting time on YouTube watching veteran strudel makers demonstrating the technique.)

Next up, a slathering of butter...

... followed by a generous sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs, and finally a layer of pecans and apple filling on one of the short sides.

Roll that bad boy up using the cloth, which helps to avoid spilling the whole thing all over the table (YouTube, people).

I made two smaller strudels rather than one monster strudel. For the second, I made a caramelized banana filling with some chocolate chunks and almond slivers sprinkled in.

We were to bake until the strudel was a deep golden brown. I don't think I baked mine quite long enough.

The filling was cooked through, but the pastry layers weren't very crisp. Within several hours, they weren't crisp at all. It still tasted good, though.

Here's the apple strudel...

... and the banana.

How did they taste? Both were quite tasty, although I preferred the apple. The banana bordered on "too sweet". Would I make this again? Sure. It was some work, but if the fillings were made a day ahead, it really wasn't that hard. It was a fun and impressive dessert and I'm so glad the hosts got me to try it. Thanks so much, Linda and Courtney!

I chalk this up as a successful challenge, and I'm looking forward to next month's. See ya' then!

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 *I used pecans
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

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.

- 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 Linda did a trial run on making the strudel. Below are their 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;


Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Your strudel's look great :-)
Love your step-by-step pictures

Heather said...

Ugh, I never got to strudel this month. Maybe I can get it done tomorrow.

Steph said...

That is amazing stretching! I got a few holes in mine and a not so yummy outside. Banana sounds like a great addition!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, your dough stretching was perfect, resulting in tywo gorgeous and delicious sounding strudels. Your step-bystep photos should be all over the net on the proper way to make a strudel! Great job, Jacque - as always!

Anonymous said...

Looks great! I've always wanted to try to make streudel.

Heather B said...

Oh my. That banana filling looks out of this world delicious! Great job this month

doughmesstic said...

Fantastic Job! I loved your step by step photos! Wish I had watched the YouTube videos!
Next time......

Grace said...

yeah, that's definitely some paper-thin dough--impressive! your fillings sound wonderful, and although i'm partial to apples inside, i can't deny the appeal of bananas and chocolate!

Anonymous said...

Your strudel looks fantastic. Now that I've seen how they actually work. I'm going to make it again.

Megan said...

Yes, I'll take a piece of each, please!

Seriously, they both look FABULOUS!

Tammy said...

Yum!! yours looks like the real thing!

TeaLady said...

Those look incredible. I, too, have never made strudel, but yours make me want to try - real soon.

Juliana said...

WOW, your apple/banana strudel looks fantastic, you make it look/sound so easy...very nice pictures. Wish to have a bite of it...yummie!

Engineer Baker said...

The banana version sounds absolutely wonderful! Both look amazing, of course, but the banana intrigues me :)

Bunny said...

I can't even imagine stretching something that thin! Wow you did that like a pro! The finished strudel looks mouth watering!

Pamela said...

I would be terrified of that dough! Looks beautiful, though.

Speedbump Kitchen said...

Great job, I bet my kids would have loved the chocolate banana! The sweeter the better with them!

Natashya said...

Lovely! So glad you watched the video, I wish I did too. I am bad that way...
Love the sound of the banana one.

isa said...

Your strudel looks delicious.
I particularly love your step-by-step pictures. Great job!

Lauren said...

Yum! Your strudel looks amazing =D. Awesome job!

Elyse said...

Wow, Jacque! You did a fabulous job with this strudel. It looks totally perfect. Now, if only I had a strudel of my own so I could have a slice--your pics have made me super hungry!

Anonymous said...

Your strudels look so great. I love how perfectly your stretched out your dough. And the Banana chocolate filling sounds so good.

Joey Biscotti said...

That banana strudel sounds A-MAZE-ING... I'm thinking we may have to try this again with different fillings as well...