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
This is my first post for the Daring Bakers. I have always baked simple things, but never anything elaborate. Just recently I discovered the joy of baking yeast breads at home and found a love for baking that I never knew existed.
The strudel recipe appeared rather tedious and I felt subject to failure or severe problems while crafting the dough. Naturally I have a way of procrastinating anything that seems remotely confrontational, including this dough. I know it, I'm half crazy and I fully admit it. My procrastination has led me all the way to today where I was stuck making this dessert on the last day. As usual, each time I procrastinate I learn that the task wasn't as bad as I made it out to be and then I tell myself that I won't procrastinate anymore.. yeah, right. Who am I kidding??
Anyway, this recipe wasn't that bad and the dough was simple and also a dream to work with. In fact, this dough was almost addictive to knead. The feel of the dough was so soft that I had a hard time putting it down. (Yes, in addition to procrastinating I also have OCD). When you are finished making and kneading the dough it needs to rest at least 30-90 minutes.
After resting, you roll the dough out onto a huge surface until it is paper thin. The dough should be so thin you could read a letter through it. Once the dough is rolled thin enough, you rub with butter, sprinkle with buttered and toasted breadcrumbs, and add the filling. Once this is complete you roll the pastry up and shape into a horseshoe design. When the pastry is ready to be baked you can brush on additional butter and sprinkle with sugar or any other desired topping. This month the daring bakers were able to chose either a sweet or savory filling and there were many combinations. I chose the apple filling just because that was what I had on hand (especially since I waited until the last minute).
Here is the recipe for the strudel dough:
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.
There was a recipe included for an apple filling, but you can add in any filling you'd like. I was afraid to stray too far from the recipe, but I learned that it doesn't really matter what you fill the dough with. The only exception is that you would not want your filling to be overly wet, but you could put meat and cheese. You could have a veggie strudel. You could even have a nut strudel and drizzle honey on top and it would be somewhat like baklava. All in all, this is really an easy recipe and is no harder than making a good pie crust from scratch. I was very happy with how mine turned out and am happy to add strudel to my list of baking projects. Thank you to Linda and Courtney for their choice this month. Maybe next month I'll be ahead of schedule for once!!