Coming soon: Doorbells, sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles

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.

Would you like to know why I don’t buy Toaster Strudels? Because I would eat the entire box in one sitting. Okay, maybe two sittings. Either way, I’m pretty sure that’s not what your friendly local nutritionist would recommend.

The point is, I love Toaster Strudels. But I don’t think I’ve ever had real strudel. So I was pretty excited to see that this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge was The Strudel. The provided recipe was for an apple strudel, which sounded lovely. But naturally I had big plans about making an apple strudel and and chocolate strudel and a savory strudel, maybe with a samosa-ish filling. Instead, I waited until the last minute and cobbled something together.

That “something” was a cream cheese and raspberry and chocolate filling. It didn’t taste bad, but it was Not Pretty. Particularly because the filling exploded out the side and left my strudel looking like a slain sci-fi monster.

The dough itself wasn’t at all hard to make, although I think my lovely assistant and I could’ve gotten it a bit thinner. And I didn’t do the sprinkling of the bread crumbs, which I think would’ve helped the layers puff up a bit. I’ll probably try this again because it was pretty simple. But next time, I’ll follow the directions to a T.

from “Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague” by Rick Rodgers.
2 tablespoons golden rum
3 tablespoons raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds 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. 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 from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-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.
  • Strudel Dough
    1 1/3 cups unbleached flour
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    7 tablespoons water, plus more if needed
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
    1/2 teaspoon 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 round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches. 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 wide and 3 feet 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.
  • Getting out of the culinary comfort zone

    Works for Me Wednesday logo

    I love to bake, but I try not to do it just anytime the urge strikes. That way I don’t make (and eat) cookies every single day. I figured that by joining the Daring Bakers, I could get that urge to back out of the way every month. And I might make some new and exciting stuff along the way.

    Since October, I’ve made pizza dough (fantastic); caramel cake (oh my stars so good); a Buche de Noel (definitely a once-a-year undertaking); Tuile cookies; a flourless chocolate cake; and the most delicious cheesecake ever. I can’t reveal to you what this month’s challenge is, but I can tell you that (a) I haven’t made it yet and (b) I’m a little afraid to try. Next Wednesday is the Big Reveal Day, so you should pop back over then if you’re curious.

    Last month the Daring Kitchen expanded its purview. I tend to get into cooking ruts, so I’m very excited about the Daring Cooks challenges. I say that even though I never got around to doing the first challenge, Ricotta Gnocchi. This month’s challenge is particularly exciting. Again, I can’t reveal what it is yet. Check back on June 14 for that one.

    All of this is to say: The Daring Kitchen’s challenges work for me. They help inspire and challenge me in the kitchen, and that’s a great thing when you start to feel a bit blah about slapping together the food for your family.

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