Monday, 25 May 2009

daring bakers challenge: rhubarb pecan streusel strudel

Mmmmm hmmmm I love me some strudel, oh yes indeedy.... but boy oh boy is that strudel dough a puzzler. The recipe is very simple, and the instructions easy enough, but to achieve a perfectly stretched, tissue thin dough is tricker than Mr Trick and his tricky box of super tricky tricks! Going into the challenge with my usual gusto I did find myself pulled up rather short once it came to the dough stretchy part, but enough of my dough-woe... 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... And here is said recipe; first up the dough... 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.

I made two strudels in total, and I can safely say that after several batches of baking skill re-affirming cupcakes I will be attempting this again, because even my shoddy efforts were particularly delicious it has to be said. The first was the classic apple strudel, following the recipe posted for the challenge, as follows:

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.

Yum. yum yum and yum, this was scrummy...I was happy with the dough, it did give a flaky, multi-layered-ness, as desired - even though there were a 'few' holes...sadly my photos do not do it justice, and I did get bored and eat it all rather than wait for better light, whoops! For my second attempt I mulled over several ideas, most involving rhubarb and finally settled on the title piece, Rhubarb Pecan Streusel Strudel. For this I used up the last two-thirds of my dough, stretched as thin a possible without making too many gaping holes...I lay down a 3" line of frozen rhubarb, over this I sprinkled vanilla sugar and then some creme patisserie, all finally topped with a pecan streusel. Once rolled and coated with melted butter, I popped some more streusel on top and baked for 30 minutes. Oh it was goooooooood! I will definately be doing that again once my dough rolling skills have improved. Rhubarb Pecan Streusel Strudel: 50g frozen rhubarb 3-4 tsp vanilla sugar Flan/Creme Patisserie: 90 ml double cream 3 tbsp vanilla sugar 2 tbsp cornflour 1 large egg, beaten Heat the cream to just below simmering; whisk together the egg with the cornflour & sugar. Temper half the cream with the egg mix, whisking for about a minute, then return to the pan (off the heat) and whisk well to combine for a few minutes more. Pour into a small bowl and chill immediately in an ice-bath, whisking all the time. Put in the fridge until needed.
Pecan Streusel: 1/4 cup plus two tbsp plain flour 28g butter, softened 1/4 cup vanilla sugar 1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped Cream the butter and sugar, then rub in the flour & pecans to make a dry, crumbly mix. Pop in the freezer to chill until needed.
...and I must add, rather yummy cold with a nice glass of bucks fizz :D

Friday, 22 May 2009

wedding cupcakes....a feat achieved...

I started at 9am this morning, and put the last cupcake in a box at 5.30pm...pretty good going I think! It was only 65 cupcakes, but for a first proper effort I am very chuffed with myself. I must thank Ikkin for her kind help with cutting out mini flowers and keeping the chatter alive (I may have gone a bit cake-feverish without her!)

Saturday, 16 May 2009

ice cream cupcakes-ish

after an exhaustive and exhausting search in all shops near me for flat bottomed ice cream cones to make proper ice cream cupcakes I had to admit defeat; getting my cake hat on, hah, I ALWAYS have my cake hat on...(hmmm, I so want a hat of cake...oooh imagine mini hats, made of cake! plans are formulating)....sorry, anyway, cake hat was on and I decided to make them ice-creamy by doing big old frosting and adding a wafer & sprinkles on top....and lo...
I experimented with a new chocolate cupcake recipe, and it is super nice, I used to always use the magnolia one but for some reason it was always very temperamental for me. Often it felt too airy leading to odd cupcakes that went a bit bubbly, and then could sink...tante irritato (sorry just seen Angels & Demons and have gone all fake-italiano). This recipe is very very easy as it is a 'dump it all in and blend' method, my first attempt at one too. Chocolate Cupcakes - makes 20 Ingredients 250g plain flour 450g caster sugar 65g cocoa powder 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 12 fl oz milk 113g butter, softened 2 tsp vanilla extract 2 large eggs Method 1. preheat oven to 180C (170C fan) 2. sift dry and add wet ingredients - except the eggs - straight into your mixer bowl 3. mix on low speed at first to avoid flour cloud, then increase to high for 2 minutes 4. add the eggs and beat again for another 2 minutes, scrape bowl and beat quickly to combine any random bits 5. fill your cupcake cases (or ice cream cones if your quest if more fruitful than mine) 2/3rds full and bake for 20-25 minutes 6. remove and leave to cool before icing Vanilla Buttercream Ingredients 226g butter, softened 750g icing sugar, sifted 2 fl oz milk 1 tsp vanilla extract Method 1. beat butter until very creamy, scrape bowl down 2. add most of the icing sugar, then the milk and vanilla - beat on a low speed (I cover my mixer with a tea towel to avoid getting mess everywhere), then increase the speed to incorporate well 3. add the rest of the icing sugar and beat again first on a low speed, then increase to high and leave for a few minutes to get a very creamy, fluffy frosting (at this point you could add cocoa, or remove half and add to make chocolate too) 4. fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip (I have lost mine hence the round tipped piping :( meh) and pipe ice cream 99 style toppings on the cooled cupcakes. To get a high mound I make first a base of frosting, then pipe another cone on top, with a little wrist flick to get the classic ice cream tip! 5. finally pop in your wafers, I pushed mine down into the cake a bit for security, then add sprinkles of your choice! yum yum yummy yum! I'd love to serve these with a hot fudge sauce...oooooooh just think of it!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

mini loaf cakes and a spot of millinery.

I often, of a lunch time, wander in and out of baking stores...mainly the steamer trading near my place of day work. I do indeed find it rather (cough*exceedingly*cough) over priced and invariably pick things up, carry them round the whole store with me, then pop them back down again muttering to myself and leave. then, every now and again, I have a fit of not caring about money and shoes and have a big old splurge. one such splurging occasion happened about a month ago, this being the same splurge in which I bought the overpriced tart rings (£4!!! for 4" rings! are you mad! thats a pound an inch! and now I only have two! obviously I need more than this. trapped, trapped in a cycle of ring buying...etc etc). amongst the other items bought in this splurge ( 4x dariole moulds and some miniature clothes pegs, oh and 4 mini-bowl things) I purchased 4 miniature loaf tins, so so so very cute, and have at last put them to good use. it was pointed out to me later in the day that I had bought a plethora of minature items, which whilst pleasing did not equate to a miniature total spendature. but hey ho I now have some very cute mini-baking items to coo over when I open the baking drawer. I am not someone who just dies! when they see little baby shoes, but mini baking items, oh yes, lovely! Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Lemon Yoghurt Anything Cake: Makes one large loaf tin cake or 13 mini loaf tin cakes. I first made a plain batter, leaving out any flavourings (lemon, vanilla) until I spilt the batter to make the mini versions. This cake is very moist, which I think really helps will the mini-ness as they stay lovely even though they are tiny small. I made three versions; Sour Cherry & Pecan, Almond & Rhubarb and Lemon Poppy Seed...but the possibilities are endless non? Ingredients for a plain batter which I split into three separate bowls: 1 1/2 cups plain flour 2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1 cup natural yoghurt 1 cup caster sugar 3 large eggs 1/2 cup vegetable oil Method Preheat the oven to 160C and grease your mini-tins (I used melted butter and a pastry brush). Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in one bowl. In another whisk together the yoghurt, sugar, eggs and oil. Gradually add in the dry mix and whisk to a smooth batter. 1. For the Sour Cherry & Pecan I added 50g sour cherries and 25g chopped pecans. Once poured into the greased mini-tins I added a pecan streusel topping by roughly rubbing together the following, then chilling in the freezer and adding to the mini-cakes half way through baking: 1/4 cup plain flour 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans 28g cold butter, diced small 2. For the Almond and Rhubarb I added 1/2 tsp of almond extract to the batter (add more to taste but I found this plenty). I then filled the mini-tins 2/3rds full then popped in a layer of frozen sliced rhubarb and sprinkled over a teaspoon of sugar, then poured on another layer of batter to cover and finally topped with sliced almonds. 3. For the classic Lemon Poppy Seed I added 1-2 tbsp of poppy seeds (I love them so stuck loads in), 1 tbsp of lemon juice and the finely grated zest of 1 lemon. Once out of the oven I poked some holes in the top then poured over a syrup of lemon juice and icing sugar. Bake the cakes for about 20-30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean, the cake is moist so try not to overbake. Leave the cakes in the tins for about 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely on a rack; be careful when slicing as you could smoosh them. Yum!