A very late strudel

The 27th was Daring Bakers reveal date. And for a month I’ve been procrastinating about apple strudel. Mainly because I’ve never eaten apple strudel before and didn’t have the faintest notion of what it was all about. I had an idea that it was a sort of filo-pastry thing wrapped around cooked apples. (This is not far off, but not true either; strudel pastry is nowhere near the brittle papery stuff of filo.)

So. Around 5pm I realised that I was two days after the posting date but that I really wanted to give this a bash. No time for adventurous re-interpretations of the theme. In any case, never having tried the dish in its original form, I hardly felt equipped to start improvising with it.

The dough was amazingly easy to make and easy to work with – gorgeously soft and elastic and pliable and forgiving. Unfortunately, though, I had no idea what I was doing, so I formed it pretty much the wrong shape: a long thin strip instead of a massive rectangle.

My only variation on the original recipe was to replace the fresh apple with tinned pie apples (a matter of what was available – and, I admit, I felt like soft squishy pie filling rather than anything firmer or fresher).

This is without a doubt the ugliest looking dessert I’ve ever had to photograph, and it was with skepticism and reluctance that I cut my first piece and took the first mouthful. So glad I did though. It was utterly delicious. (Those buttery toasted breadcrumbs seem to do a magical sweet-cinnamony thing with the apples.) This thing has the power to heal family rifts, even – it was served after something of a blowup in our household, and by bedtime, all was well again.

So ugly my mom called it “elephant afterbirth”:

DSC00772

But delicious if not quite beautiful in a bowl:

DSC00774

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
(900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices

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.

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
– 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.

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.

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About Lisa

I live in South Africa with my husband and two small children, doing things, thinking about things and sometimes writing about them.
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9 Responses to A very late strudel

  1. So ugly my mom called it “elephant afterbirth”: LOL LOL and so true but this is the wonder of this recipe even if the shape isn’t up to perfection the taste and texture will be – good that you tried and found it so delish. This is what DBers is all about trying new skills and learning new things. Great to hear the dough was a wonder as it was for me. Great effort on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Australia

  2. I agree strudel is hard to photograph well! The important thing is that it tastes good and I bet this tasted wonderful! 🙂

  3. raquel says:

    sometimes, the ugliest looking ones are the tastiest! LOL! i’ve had so many disastrous desserts that they never even made it to the dinner table…but the best part is you tried. and i say, awesome job, daring baker!

  4. lisamichele says:

    All that matters is that it tasted great, and yours looks exquisitely delectable – like you said! I love the elephant afterbirth comment..had me in *good* tears for the first time in a while 🙂 Great job!

  5. Jenny says:

    LOL at your mom’s comment!
    Glad to hear it was so tasty – great job on the challenge!

  6. Cakelaw says:

    Fabulous! I agree that streudel gets zero points in the looks department, but tastes absolutely wonderful – I like the idea that it can heal family rifts.

  7. Katya Segura says:

    Hey, we don’t make food to LOOK AT, we make it to EAT! Three cheers for ugly and delicious desserts. Kx

  8. Sabiilaa says:

    Thanks!..your mom’s great hehe and what I would say is don’t judge a book by its cover! Good job for trying and making a delicious strudel! thank you for dropping by!

  9. Well done on your strudel. I had so many struggles with mine! 🙂

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