This month’s Daring Bakers challenge didn’t so much as creep up on me as stalk me all month. I finally settled on a savory version less out of inspiration and more out of necessity, as I only had two days before the reveal!
i am a daring baker and we bleeping knead to bleeping bake!
Here is the official line: 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. Of course, we must pay homage to our beloved, revered, and oh so beeeyootiful founders: Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice.
simple dough: flour, salt, water, oil, and vinegar
the lumpy wad
I guess I was dreading the challenge (ask Tartelette, I was on the fence about punting the strudel all month) mostly because of the mess it involved and the fact that I didn’t want to clean it up. But when I decided to give it a go, I quite enjoyed kneading the dough from the lumpy mass into a smooth and silky dome. It helped get some of my frustrations out to slam it on the work surface (per the instructions, but I did give it a few extras for good measure…).
oiled and resting
While the dough rested for a couple of hours, I got the filling ready. The default recipe called for an apple filling, but we’ve got enough sweets floating around this house that I turned to my trusted Argentine empanada filling. Yes, dinner instead of dessert. I will always choose dinner over dessert, chips over cookies, salt over sugar, yadda yadda and yadda. Shut up, Jen and get on with it.
delicious beef empanada filling
rolling out the strudel dough
So the part that got my OCD self wondering if I really wanted to do this was rolling out the dough. Flour a tablecloth. I own one black tablecloth and I was not about to rub flour into it. After some scrounging about the house I found an old white curtain of sorts, and then some cheesecloth (hello! I bought you three years ago and you’re still in the nice plastic packaging). I set four layers of cheesecloth over the curtain on a work table and then floured the hell out of it. This worked well for me – no stickage. I employed Jeremy’s help to stretch the dough out until it was thin enough to see the texture of the cheesecloth underneath. Helen had given me a couple of crucial tips before I started the challenge (she probably knew I would have blown a gasket if it tanked): 1) knead the dough well to develop the gluten and 2) flour the bejeezus out of the cloth. I did not develop any holes. I heart Helen.
pulled as much as I could without making a huger mess
trimming the edges
After spreading melted butter over the dough by hand, I cut the large sheet in half so I could roll two strudels instead of folding one giant strudel into a horseshoe shape (that did not appeal to me). I blanked on making my own bread crumbs, so I sprinkled store-bought bread crumbs instead. Once the empanada filling was distributed, I rolled each strudel up and brushed with melted butter.
spreading the butter by hand
rolling the strudel
brushed with more butter
I actually enjoyed making the strudel dough and pushing (pulling?) the elasticity of the dough to its limits. The flavor of the dough itself left me indifferent, but I think there are many possibilities for future variations. Thank you to Linda and Courtney for expanding our horizons and nudging us another step outside of our comfort zones!
savory beef, potato, onion, olive, and egg strudel
adapted from Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers
1 1/3 cups (200g) unbleached flour
1/8 tsp salt
7 tbsps (105ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tbsps (30ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
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. 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). 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. 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.
1/2 empanada filling
1/2 cup (60g) butter, melted
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe above)
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described above. Spread about 4 tablespoons of the 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 empanada mixture 3 inches from the short edge of the dough in a 3-inch wide strip. 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 (I cut my dough in half and made 2 that didn’t need to be curved). Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter. 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.
2 tbsps (30ml) golden rum
3 tbsps (45ml) raisins
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe above)
1/2 cup (60g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 lbs. (900g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)
Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl. 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. 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 above. 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. 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. 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.