For May, we Daring Bakers made 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.
I came in just under the wire with this one. But it got done! I spent the month peeking at the beautiful strudels showing up on the Daring Kitchen forums and reading about that tricky dough we had to stretch to be as thin as window sheers. I've gotta be honest, I was a little nervous about the dough stretching - but as is usually the case, it wasn't nearly as tricky or difficult as I was dreading. I couldn't decide between my two favorite pastry fillings, so I just made two strudels! Strawberry-rhubarb and apricot almond.
The dough was gorgeous - just the kind of dough anyone wants to work with. I made a double batch for my two planned strudels. It was incredibly simple: flour, salt, oil, water and vinegar. Mix a little, knead a little, rest a little, done. The recipe called to leave the dough for at least 90 minutes, but I gave it about 5 ½ hours while I ran errands to prepare for my trip!
I cleaned off my dining room table which [without extension] is about 4 ½' x 2 ½'. It's not very often this table is completely cleared, so that was my first challenge!! I used my trusty white tablecloth and sprinkled it with a thin layer of flour. I started rolling the dough with the rolling-pin, but it didn't take very long to cast it aside and start stretching.
I took off my rings which surely would have torn the fragile dough; but otherwise it wasn't that difficult. I found that I was mostly using the back of my knuckles, hands, wrists and even forearms as the dough got stretched. It was quite easy - it's as if the dough stretched itself. When it got too large to hold up without tearing, I just started stretching it from each side while it was spread on the table. It seemed helpful to pull on each side at the same time to get in a really good stretch. And I easily got it to the 2'x3' suggested in the recipe - with a little extra of the "thick" dough to cut off around the edges.
In the end my dough didn't tear too much - mostly at the edges. It was VERY thin. It moved like fabric and I could easily see my hand through it. I was in awe even as I worked!
I will forever be a strawberry-rhubarb girl... And how could I ever say no when rhubarb is plentiful and beautiful in all the grocery stores right now? It cracks me up how the folks at the register always have to look it up; I even had one ask me "what do you do with this stuff?" Ha!... make the greatest pie filling in the world, that's what!! I had a little more S-R filling than was necessary. I made enough for a 10 inch pie and I think an 8 inch pie filling would have been more appropriate. But I had some strawberries that were quickly becoming "un-fresh" and needed to be baked up. I had to keep my ½/½ ratio consistent with rhubarb to strawberries!
My other relatively new favorite filling is the apricot almond filling we learned about during the Danish Braid challenge last June. I've used this filling now for this strudel and the pizza challenge too! It takes no more than 15 minutes and you use dried apricots! It's just so EASY and so flipping good too! You can find the recipe (from Beatrice Ojakangas) here.
Rolling the strudel up was the best part! As I said, I definitely had too much of the strawberry rhubarb filling, but I knew that and still put it all in. I was amazed that the thin dough held the filling without it seeping through to the tablecloth - but it did! And it rolled up beautifully even being on the XXL side of things... The apricot was a much better sized strudel. I used a double recipe of the filling (12 oz of apricots) and sprinkled a few handfuls of sliced almonds underneath the apricot filling.
Roll, roll, roll your dough...
So what did I think? Eh.... well... the part I liked the most was the fillings. I really think it was the presence of those bread crumbs that messed it all up for me. The dough baked up looking crispy and flaky, but didn't taste so much so. I think 'cuz of those breadcrumbs getting in the way and softening things up. I toasted them up nicely too - they were browned and golden when I sprinkled them over the dough.
Would I make this again? I might try it but DEFinitely without those breadcrumbs. I don't regret the challenge at all though since making those sheets of dough was an experience I'll never forget! And for that, I thank Courtney and Linda tons and tons! I just LOVE what I learn from Daring Bakers (and Cooks!) Don't forget to visit the other fabulous Daring Bakers and see the beautiful strudels they've made as well!
And with that, I will be bidding you adiós, au revoir, arrivederci, antío sas and hoşçakalın. There, I just gave you a little hint about where I'll be going... This time next week I'll be in Barcelona, Spain - but after that... it's all a big surprise for you! Come back and see where I'm off to! I'll be trying as hard as I might to blog while I'm jet-setting!