Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Daring Bakers/Strudel

So I have been waxing on and on about spring and before I know it, it's already summer in Milan. Not good summer, city summer, I have to study for exams but I don't have A/C and I am in Italy so there isn't A/C anywhere kind of summer; I actually went to the supermarket just to cool off today, because I was so hot kind of summer. Luckily I also had to buy some ingredients for May's Daring Bakers Challenge, so I managed to kill two birds with one stone.

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.

I am pretty amazed that I managed to do this Daring Baker's challenge because it is 95º outside, also there's The lack of A/C issue and the fact that my oven/stove is all part of my living room/entire apartment, so I cannot even escape the heat. Usually, I would go downstairs for a bit, but its hotter out there than it is in here with the stove and oven on. I know, I know, I am a wimp, for some of you when it's 95º out you're probably wearing a hat and gloves. Seriously though, this is city hot, the very worst kind, it's like the tarmac sucks up all the heat and then spits it back at you. I guess us bakers would call it a convection oven, the heat circulates perfectly (unfortunately). Anyhow, I persevered, and reminded myself that I am 20 and that if anyone should be able to do this, I should.

The moment I read the challenge, I could tell that this wasn't a walk in the park. In itself the strudel dough is not a challenging one, but rolling it out, well that was going to take a good bit of patience and effort. Luckily, I waited a bit to start this challenge so I kind of knew what was coming my way, holes are inevitable, it may wrinkle a bit, an exact 2' x 3' rectangle may not be possible. So I decided to just have fun with the dough and not worry. That totally worked for me, I was playing around with it, lifting it, shaking it, doing the hokey pokey etc...and what I ended up with was practically hole-less and tissue thin. Success.

Because the freedom in this recipe was in the filling, I decided to make a savory strudel with Roasted Beets, Candied Walnuts and Goat Cheese. This is a pretty standard combination these days, but I thought that it would be a unique and interesting change for a strudel. I basically roasted about 4 cups of julienned beets with some salt and olive oil, "Candied" some walnuts (I am going to be honest here, I have no idea how to work with sugar/caramel, so this is kind of a boot-leg version but good nonetheless), and then topped the whole thing with hunks of creamy goat cheese.
In the end, I didn't love my filling, I mean the idea was good, but the execution not so much, there was not enough cheese and it was slightly too sweet. I think I would have been better off with salty walnuts. I loved the crust though, i just ate all around the OK filling, and the whole point of this challenge was the tricky dough right? That being said, I am going to give you guys the orignal recipe for Apple Strudel, because it is sure to be good. If you like my idea and try it yourself let me know how it works out! Unfortunately, this week between exams and the heat I don't have the courage to try out any new combinations, but I really can't wait to give this another whirl, when I do, of course I will blog about it.

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
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.


Elra said...

Your strudel look perfect, fabulous that you had a tissue thin dough with no holes. Well done on this month challenge!