Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Daring Baker's challenge

Courtney of Coco Cooks and Linda of make life sweeter! are co-hosting this month's May challenge.

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.

To say that I was a little nervous about this challenge is the understatement of the year! Cheesecake I can make...but strudel??? Strudel is the type of dessert that I would see in one of my cookbooks or I would watch some celebrity chef make and think, oh that's nice. It's the type of dessert I would buy but never make! Do you have anything like that? Needless to say I was worried. I kept thinking what have I got myself into, I can barely make pie crust! Brian of course was Mr. confident, don't worry about it he said it will be fine. Alright...whatever! Now mind you the filling does not frighten me, that I can handle. The hostesses did supply a recipe for an apple filling. We had the freedom to choose any type of filling we wanted sweet or savory. I was so nervous about the dough, I decided just to tweak the filling a bit.
We had decided we would make the strudel on Monday. Here goes nothing I thought. I started making the dough in the mixer like the recipe suggested. Brian has used the dough hook on our kitchen aid many times, but I have not. Once I switched to the dough hook, I wasn't quite sure what to look for, so I called him to come take a peek. We let it go a little more, then I gave him the honors of kneading it. I oiled a plate and wrapped it tightly with plastic wrap. I was worried about this because I thought how could it rise? I'm not sure it is supposed to rise as much as rest. We let it "rest" for 90 plus minutes. I cleared off the dining room table and found an old clean sheet and ironed it. Brian floured the sheet thoroughly and placed the dough on it. He started rolling it out, but then started stretching it out. I thought, that looks like fun. We were going around and around the table pulling and stretching the dough. The texture is very elastic and fairly easy to work with. I'm not sure we got it 2 feet wide and 3 feet long, but it was tissue thin. I had made the apple filling a little earlier and Brian laid it out and rolled up the dough. We placed it on a baking stone and baked it for about 30 minutes. If we were to make a filling with fruit again I would place it on a rimmed baking sheet (you don't want the juices spilling). We probably let it sit for about an hour. The strudel looked nice, but I wondered what it would taste like. The dough was very flaky and light, just like I think strudel should be. In fact I would actually say it was good. Neither of us were crazy about the filling, we both thought it needed more sugar. It wasn't bad, just not great. Now Brian had a slice the day after and he actually thought it tasted better the second day.

I'm glad that I did this challenge, and a challenge it was. I guess that's the point, right. I might even try making this again. I think it would be a wonderful addition to the Thanksgiving dessert table. Thanks Courtney and Linda for helping me stretch my baking skills!

Here is the recipe if you are interested in trying it. For the filling I increased the cinnamon to 1/2 tsp. I omitted the walnuts and raisins. I added about 1/2 cup of dried cherries to the apples.

Preparation timeTotal: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes
15-20 min to make dough 30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling 20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough 10 min to fill and roll dough 30 min to bake 30 min to cool
Apple strudel from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbsstrudel dough (recipe below)1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts2 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 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 salt7 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.
Tips- 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 polyster;- 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.


Speedbump Kitchen said...

Great job! Never fear homemade pastry, even if you really mess up, it is still better than a frozen pie! I agree the filling needed more sugar!

Nichole said...

It looks great! I like the Thanksgiving idea. I'm thinking I'll make one with potatoes, carrots, onions and green peas the next time we have pot roast.

Jenny said...

The apple filling wasn't my favorite, but what I love is that you can put practically anything in this dough, roll it up, and bake it! Nice job here.

Bread and Jam said...

The addition of dried cherries sounds amazing. You did a great job! I'm excited to see what the next challenge is. :)

Vivi said...

I'm with you - would have been VERY nervous about this one, but it looks amazing! Nice work. I don't think I have the guts or the patience to tackle that one just yet.

isa said...

It is always a challenge the first time we try a new recipe. But it's worth the trouble, is not it? Great job!

Ruth said...

Wow you did great. You got your dough so thin. Great job

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