Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Apple Strudel

Don't you just love that puddle of ice cream right there. My children were chasing me, and the last picture is always the best. (sometimes)

I will admit, I was a little apprehensive about this Daring Bakers Challenge. But then I remembered, it IS a challenge. I should be apprehensive, right. (I really think it is the sleep deprivation, and not being able to wear my contacts right now (I get kind of down when I have to wear my glasses).

Anyhow, my major concern was how these ladies were able to create such a ginormous sheet out of this little ball of dough (approximately the size of a softball). But I did it, and now I can say I am glad I did. This was fun to make. While I was stretching the dough, I just kept thinking it was bound to stop there, but it just kept going, without ripping! It only started ripping after I walked away from it for a minute and came back to stretch it some more. I got the most interesting look from my husband when he got home from work and saw the kitchen table. I can't quite describe it. He was utterly amazed. This is definitely something I would make again!

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

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.

I copied this idea from my friend Natalie, but the pic on the left is to show how much the ball of dough was able to stretch. AMAZING! (The ball is about the size of a softball).

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 (from the recipe submitters)
- 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.

Sare's Modifications and Tips:
* I omitted the rum and raisin. Not a raisin fan, don't own rum (or rum extract...or any of the rum substitutes found here. Great resource, by the way, for alcohol substitutions.)

* I also, sort of, omitted the nuts (the walnuts at least). Instead of just breadcrumbs, I mixed equal parts fresh bread crumbs, super finely chopped pecans, and graham cracker crumbs to equal 1 1/2 Cups (and followed the recipe as stated).

* I used part white sugar, part brown when mixing with the cinnamon and the apples. Oh, and the dried cranberries (I added about 1/2 Cup of dried cranberries).

* I also doubled the dough recipe in case it didn't work well, but it did work! Now I have an extra ball of dough in the freezer. I think I will use it in a recipe that calls for phyllo dough (I have a really good one in mind...Phylloccine Ice Cream Sandwiches, from this wonderful book....mmmm)


  1. Your strudel and ice cream look so incredibly good..and i DO love that puddle! Awesome job!

  2. Very crispy/flaky layers there! A challenge done well.

  3. Wasn't it the coolest dough ever?? I'm glad you had fun.

    P.S. I think you look cute in glasses. Remind me to show you the duct tape job on my glasses. You'll feel a lot better about yours. :)

  4. I love that you took the comparative picture of the dough; it looks delicious! Hmmm, I should try ice cream with mine, thanks for the suggestion!

  5. You did a fabulous job! I love all your thin and tender layers.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  6. OH MY GOODNESS that first picture made me drool and my tummy is growling now. I guess that's what happens when you're already craving random foods and you see a delicious dessert! I bet it tastes even better than it looks!

  7. Sliding ice cream...nothing better! :-) Great job.

  8. Glad you had fun making this challenge :) You did a wonderful job, look at all those layers!