This time I should say I completed my challenge with time to spare, though just two days before! Yes, once again its time to reveal the DB challenge for the month of May. 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.
First of all, I want to mention that the support and the rapport of the DB members in the DB forum is praise-worthy!! I had almost given up on my thought of attempting this challenge. Thankfully, I went through the posts of the DBers on our members only forum and I was in awe of the combinations that everybody had made. There were many who had done multiple versions and had gone really creative with their flavor combinations. Everybody offers each other support, suggestions and advice and it really inspired me to atleast attempt the challenge and I am happy to say that I did.
I really was not sure if we would like the strudel because we do not usually like dough based desserts (like pies - that doesnt mean that we wouldnt eat it, though!!). The recipe seemed really simple so I wasnt entirely happy with my decision to pass this challenge. But finally, on an instinct, I started putting the dough together on Monday. I actually used bleached enriched all-purpose flour. The dough came together well and it was allowed to rest for an hour and a half. The dough was stretched at first by rolling out and then by hand. I got a few tears but I didnt care! I was happy that I was even doing it!
From the date the challenge was revealed, I knew I wanted to do something with a cream cheese base. I saw quite a few of cream cheese cherry combo, so I decided to go with a fruit medley. I used the dried mixed fruit bits available and soaked it in rum extract and fruit juice for about an hour and a half. The cream cheese was beaten until smooth along with 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. The soaked fruits were then folded into the cream cheese mixture.
I divided the dough in half and worked with one half at a time. I stretched each half as much as I could, initially with a rolling pin and then with my hands. The stretched dough was smeared with melted butter and generously dusted with toasted breadcrumbs (store-bought). I divided the cream cheese mixture between the two strudel dough and the rolled the dough as instructed. I shaped one of the strudel logs into a horse-shoe and the other one was left as is. The top of the strudel was smeared with some melted butter and was sprinkled with a bit of breadcrumbs. After about 20 minutes of baking, I brushed the top of the strudels with an egg-wash, and baked for another 10 minutes.
The strudel was allowed to cool for another 30 minutes. The strudel was served with a drizzle of bittersweet chocolate and strawberry coulis.
My only complain is that in my horse-shoe shaped strudel, the most filling of cream cheese leaked out through the few tears in the dough and so when cut, there wasnt much filling left! So I was left wondering how it would've tasted! Be aware of the cons of the tears. But finally when I cut the log shaped one, it had a thick amazingly delicious cream cheese filling inside. I got quite a few layers in each strudel and they were delicate, thin and crisp to perfection. I refrigerated the left overs and yesterday evening after work, I tasted some straight from the fridge and it was awesome!! I would recommend it cold! It hadnt turned soggy at all, it was crisp and delicate just as before.
Eventhough I was a little apprehensive about trying this challenge, I am really happy that I did. This is not the best among the DB challenges for me, but still I really like the simplicity and the results of this recipe. The dough takes no time to put together and is very simple. Once you figure out the combination of the filling that you want, you can get the filling together while the dough rests. The stretching of the dough, if done a bit patiently, will work out perfect - its easier if done in half. The strudels were crisp, flaky and delicious. I got many delicate layers which baked to a perfect golden brown color. I was just ok with the taste on the day I baked them, but I was amazed with the delicious flavor after a day in the fridge. The pastry was still flaky and crisp and the filling was cool, creating a great feel in your mouth! I would like to make this again, with different fillings. It is not at all time-consuming when compared to some of the past DB challenges and is great as a home baked goodie which does not need days of preparation! :-) Thanks Linda and Courtney!!
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes
15-20 min to make dough
30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the fillin
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 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 crumbsstrudel 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 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.
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.
Both Courtney and I did a trial run on making the strudel. Below are our notes:
Courtney's notes- She could'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.
My 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 standmixer 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.
Here's a link to a strudel making video that might help you a bit. Check out the DB bloroll for more ideas.