Daring Bakers' Challenge: 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.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I went to culinary school. In everyday life, I try to avoid this topic of conversation; my boastfulness is most enjoyed over imaginary accomplishments. Nonetheless, I did spend a few good years attempting to hone my craft. Or something like that.

Anyhow, I did have a few classes in the pastry wing during my tenure and within the dining hall of that building, only windows separated noshing students from a particular class of aspiring pastry chefs. Now, all cooks took a short class on baking, mine taught by a small, charmingly grumpy old Frenchman who muttered "I hate cooks" under his breath just often enough to keep everyone on their toes. And while we learned to make sponge cake, dinner rolls, and cookies, the class beyond that glass wall made puff pastry, yeasted doughs, and on one notable occasion, skillfully stretched dough tissue thin across two 6 foot tables joined end to end. It was truly impressive; I never before would have imagined such a thing possible.

Leave it to the Daring Bakers to bring it all back with strudel, May's challenge brought to us by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. While we were given free reign with the filling, the strudel recipe itself is taken from Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Strudel is actually quite simple. The dough is little more than flour, water, and vinegar, and to my surprise, quite easily stretches to a paper thin sheet. True, I wasn't attempting a 12-foot length, but I did manage a fourth of that with no trouble. If you've stretched pizza dough before now, you can do this.

In the strudel recipe, it is recommended that you allow the dough to rest 30-90 minutes, but due to time constraints, mine rested overnight. It didn't seem to make any difference in flavor, though it may have added to its manageability. All in all, I find it simply an argument for patiently awaiting the 90 minutes to pass. It was suggested that we double the dough recipe in order to allow for some trial and error, but I got along so well, I ended up with two strudels. (Lucky me!) The original recipe contained an apple filling, though I chose to do both a cherry and a cannoli-like filling. While I felt that the ricotta filling was not nearly as successful as the cherry (the ricotta, in my opinion, became a tad rubbery), there were some huge advocates, and, at the very least, it would make a killer filling for (no mystery here) cannoli, but that's a different challenge.

For the complete strudel recipe, check out make life sweeter! and Coco Cooks. Thanks again, Ladies!

Cherry Lime Filling
inspired by cherry season

3 cups cherries, pitted and halved
½ cup sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lime
¼ tsp almond extract
Dash ground ginger
¼ cup walnuts, chopped fine
½ cup dry breadcrumbs

In a large nonstick pan, cook cherries and sugar until juice becomes very thick and syrupy (it should bubble vigorously and seem as if there is little juice left). Remove from heat and stir in lime zest, juice, almond extract, and ginger. Allow mixture to cool.

Combine walnuts and breadcrumbs; set aside.

Sweet Ricotta Filling
inspired by epicurious.com
and Daring Cooks’ May Challenge

1½ cups fresh ricotta
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp orange flower water
¾ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
Dash cinnamon

Combine all ingredients; mix well, set aside at room temperature until needed.

Do chill if you plan on using this filling for cannoli.


harcoutbreton@yahoo.com said...

looks great... very inviting... definitely gonna try this... thanks for sharing...

Anonymous said...

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