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


lisamichele said...

Your strudels look amazing! Shoddy is how mine came out, but all that mattered was the flavor, which I completely agree with you on. Lovely job all around!

Anula said...

What a great idea for rhubarb strudel! Looks great! :)

Joy said...

Yum - it looks great. I LOVE the name of your blog too!

Lauren said...

Yum! Your strudel looks amazing =D.

Holly said...

Mmm, love the rhubarb filling! I found that when I doubled the dough recipe, I had a pretty good time of stretching it out!