Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I was Strudeling along one day, in the merry merry month of May...

So here were are, it's May again, and apparently time for Strudeling according to our gracious Daring Baker hostesses. Now, to be honest, I am not a big fan of strudels, I don't know why since I have such a sweet tooth and am happy to eat any and all Viennoiseries, but my guess is that it's probably because I'm not a huge fan of cooked fruit in the form of fillings, although there are, of course, a few (or actually many) exceptions to that.
The other thing is have I mentioned that I am usually mostly crap at recipes where I have to knead the dough? I don't know what it is but I think I usually underknead or overknead or wrongknead the dough or something because the breads come out ok but nothing to write home about. Although I guess this also has something to do with yeast, and luckily for me this dough didn't require yeast. Luckily too, I am quite happy to dare to make strudel since I have never made it before and the endeavor here is to be daring (and perhaps with enough practice I'll be a little less crap at those dough-kneading recipes).

SafPeachNec Strudel
Anyway, A. is a big fan of strudels and immediately said cherry when I asked what flavor filling he would like (as our lovely hostesses used those magic words I love so much, free and creative). I did try to nudge him in the direction of pastry cream because then I would more happily gorge on it too, but no go. Unfortunately, while the cherry blossoms may be out all over London at the moment, the cherries, eh, not so much, and the ones that are available are, like my usual bread endeavors, nothing to write home about, so instead he opted for peach, and since I figured I could probably finnagle something with some half-decent peaches and nectarines and maybe a little of this and that other thing in the kitchen, a sort of peach/nectarine filling it was then. In the end I'd call this a saffron peach nectarine strudel. I've left the recipe as it was given to us with Rick Rodgers' apple filling below for you and if you want a recipe for the filling I used, email me. I will say this though, why use breadcrumbs tossed in melted butter when you can make brown butter shortbread from the Tartine cookbook and break it up instead. Much yummier if you ask me.
Saffron Peach Strudel
I have to tell you about the incident that almost killed this for me. I'd left my dough to rise for over a day so that when I came back to stretch it, it was an absolute dream how easy it was to get it paper thin. I can't go all around my table the way it's set up in our kitchen nook here in London so I thought, maybe I'll just ever so carefully turn the cloth around so I can get to the other side. Yeah. NO. My shirt got caught on one side of the cloth and the whole thing followed me and folded over on itself which, as you might guess, renders the whole exercise futile because it won't restretch again. After about 15mn of fuming at the universe, I made another batch of dough which I let rise for about 75mn before stretching it. It worked fine as you can see, but it wasn't as workable as the first one. I guess this means I'm going to have to do this again because, as much as I thought I didn't like strudel, I've tasted this one and I have to say I like it enough to make it and eat it again.

I am, again, ever so grateful for a recipe that can be completed in several short steps as this is easier to negotiate with Baby Saffron than one long stint in the kitchen, and I am doubly grateful for it turning me on to strudels (Thank you Linda and Courtney!). If you want to see what Baby Saffron looks like at 2 months old (just a few days ago), scroll down to the Lemon Bars post.
And apologies if this post seems rather incoherent, everything other than the baby around here is done pretty piecemeal these days...
Saffron Peach-Nectarine 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.

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

Preparation time
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 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

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.

- 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.

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

2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum (I used mead)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins (omitted)
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.

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Basht said...

that looks really yummy good job!

Sara said...

Gorgeous strudel, despite the stretching disaster! Your filling sounds totally delicious. :)

Ivayla said...

Nice work. Your filling sounds awesomely fresh and delicious!

Aran said...

looks wonderful Hilda!

Jayme Duke said...

Gorgeous looking strudel! I'll have to check back for the plated pictures.

I love that you used the word 'finnagle' lol. And I had to laugh a bit at your description of attempting to turn the table cloth with the dough on it but then having it catch on your shirt - not laughing at the fact you lost your dough, but the way you worded the entire event was quite funny. :)

Anula said...

Great job! It lookg yummy! :)

Karen said...

Despite your dough hassles, I'm glad it worked out in the end! Love the sound of saffron and peach!

Anonymous said...

It looks just beautiful - despite the catastrophe! Pas grave, après tout. I love the pecans - nice touch.

Lisa Michelle said...

I had dough problems too, but yours looks amazing..especially the final topping and result. LOVE the filling too, and your baby is a doll face! :)

Dragon said...

Your strudel turned out so well. Great job on this month's challenge!

Sophie said...

What an excellent job you did!
MMMMM....looks lovely on the outside & I bet it tasted delicious!

Jo said...

You've done an amazing job even though you had problems. Well done and it looks so delicious.

alana said...

Way to recover! Looks beautiful... and I like the incoherent mamma style- great job!

glamah16 said...

To bad about the first dough. Sounded like the perfect roll out. But your final result looks great. Peaches are always good. Thanks for participating!

Claire said...

Looks fantastic. I love your plated picture! Yum!

Amy J. said...

That looks awesome! Sorry about your dough mishap -- and Baby Saffron is soooo adorable! :)

Chris said...

What a bummer about the mishap! But, I am glad all worked in the end. Love the pecans on the top! Totally finishes it. Well done! ;)

NIall Harbison said...

I have been a chef for 10 years and I have never made a studdle. I think it was because in college on of the chefs said it was nearly impossible to make (think he had a bad experience somewhere along the line). I have had so many bad ones over the years but if you do get a good strudel there really isn't anything nicer!

Hilda said...

Basht - Thank you.

Sara - It was totally yummy, and I wasn't even sure it was going to be.

Ivayla - I think I ate more of it than A. did in the end!

Aran - Thank you.

Jayme - I'm glad you thought it was funny, it's all a little ridiculous really when you think about it.

Anula - Thanks.

Karen - I know right? it really is a good combo.

Shellyfish - Thank you. I put pecans inside too instead of walnuts, yummo.

Lisa Michelle - Thanks! I like my baby too =)

Dragon - Thank you.

Sophie - I think I may have to make it again!

Jo - Thanks.

Alana - I think it's going to stay incoherent for a while, but glad you like it.

Glamah - Thanks for picking such an interesting recipe.

Claire - Thank you, it took some running around baby.

Amy J. - Thank you, I totally heart her!

Chris - There were pecans inside as well, mmmm pecans good with peaches.

Niall - Thanks for the encouragement!

Jamie said...

I have yet to make strudel or strudel dough though I often dream of it. I also vote for cherry filling! I actually love your story (and laughed out loud) at your mishap, but we are always comforted by others' boo-boos. In the end, your strudel looks delicious!

Talita said...

This looks perfect!! I never tried streusel but I think it's really yummy!

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ejm said...

We went through a strudel phase a while back (if making two strudels can be considered a phase) and made peach strudel and cherry strudel. Both were excellent. We nixed doing apple strudel though. Even though we adore apple pie...

But really, regular pastry is so much more satisfying than strudel pastry, isn't it?


Rachel said...

Yummy! This blog is really making me hungry!

Wanna B Thin 2 said...

I've never made strudel before. Perhaps I'll try this. It looks delicious!

Heather said...

That strudel is making me hungry!

Stacy said...

The stretching debacle is cracking me up!

Mrs. D said...

Oh no - what a horrible thing to happen to your dough! Looks like it all turned out okay, though.

Kat said...

That looks fantastic!

Jeanne said...

OMG Hilda that looks good...

Sari said...

Oh, I love love love strudel! It's my favourite dessert. :)

Anonymous said...

comment comment. thanks for the good work.

Ted said...

Leaving a comment for Haiti.

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