Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May DB challenge: The Art of Zen and Strudel Making

This month's DB challenge conjured up nightmares and anxiety that I could only have imagined. Paper thin dough you can read through, glutens resting, thin layers of golden brown goodness all put together to make a wonderful traditional dessert. I could feel my BP rising as I saw this month's challenge.

Thankfully, as always we are given a straight forward no nonsense list of to-do's and instructions, that can always bring about a spa-inducing sigh of relief.

I thought this challenge was going to be stressful, but I was wrong. The dough was supple (yes I said supple), it turned paper thin when stretched and was golden brown once baked.

I urge you to try this recipe. Light a few aromatherapy candles, put on that playlist that makes you want to close your eyes and come closer to a Zen state... the Zen state of Strudel that is.

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.

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.

Strawbwerry Rhubarb Filling:
3/4 cup brown 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)
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 pound sliced, hulled strawberries
1 pound sliced rhubarb

1. Mix the cornstarch, sugar, strawberries and rhubarb in a 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 strawberry-rhubarb mixture on the dough.

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.


Audax said...

Strawberries and rhubarb a great filling you are so lucky to have rhubarb in season here in Australia it is the wrong time of year. Lovely strudel and I love the flaky layers you got. And yes the dough is so easy to stretch it is a wonder. Thanks for visiting my blog.

To answer your question about the poppyseed filling I did my own it is much cheaper than the filling in the tin which costs about $10 but to make it your self is about $3. Here is the recipe I used

Poppy Seed Filling

* 3/4 lb poppy seed
* 1/2 lb sugar
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 5 eggs, separated
* 3 tablespoons of chopped nuts
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 tablespoon flour

1. Scald poppyseed in boiling water and strain in cheese cloth.
2. Grind poppyseeds in a blender until smooth.
3. Add sugar,honey,eggyolks, vanilla extract, and cinnamon, blending constantly.
4. Beat egg whites till stiff.
5. Fold in poppyseed mixture.
6. Sprinkle with flour and chopped nuts and mix well.

Great work on the Zen art of strudel making. Cheers Audax

Audax said...

Sorry I forgot the instructions on how to fill the strudel.

Place the poppy seed on some baking paper in a rectangle shape the width of the strudel you want then carefully spread the sweeten cream cheese on top leaving a wide margin on all sides. Then using the paper roll the filling into a log then using the paper again transfer to the stretched strudel pastry and then roll the filling with the pastry. That way you get a white centre of cheese surrounded by the black poppyseeds which looks so nice.

Sue Sparks said...

YUM! The crystalized sugar is a pretty crowning touch! Beautiful job!


THanks Sue!!!

andaoana said...

Great job you did here. I am so curious how rhubarb tastes, as I do not find it where I live.

PheMom said...

All that stress, but such beautiful results! Your strudel is gorgeous!