2009-05-27

Apple 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.
I was really thrilled by this challenge, partly because it's a truly lovely pastry that I've never attempted before, and partly because it required absolutely minimal adjustments to make it allergy friendly. I substituted Earth Balance for the butter and crunchy homemade granola for the walnuts with delicious results.

Apple strudel from Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers

Filling:
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) nondairy margarine, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs (I used potato bread)
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) granola to substitute for walnuts (recipe below)
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)

1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the margarine 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 margarine 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 granola 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. (I made a wreath instead.) Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted margarine.
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.

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.

Granola:
1 1/2 C rolled oats
1/4 C sesame seeds
1/4 C ground flax seed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 C maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl, then stir in maple syrup. Spread onto a nonstick pan and bake for 30 minutes, stirring granola once halfway through. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

You'll notice this is a bare bones granola with no dried fruit, or anything else, to liven things up, but since I was trying to make a nut substitute, I kept it simple.

I had a little trepidation about making a huge sheet of paper thin dough, but the dough was a pleasure to work with, flexible and soft. Although my technique was clumsy, the area of my surface was the limiting factor in its final size. My strudel was a little thicker and shorter than it should have been, and I spontaneously made it into a circle, rather than a horseshoe shape. It was very pretty, but I found a puddle of liquid trapped in the center of my wreath when I pulled it from the oven. Despite draining it immediately, I still ended up with some soggy bottom crust. (Does this make me a baker of constant sorrow?) Still, this was one of my favorite challenges yet.
Be sure to check out all other Daring Bakers and their lovely strudels!

6 comments:

shellyfish said...

I love the granola sub- brilliant idea. I also loved that this was such an easily-adaptable recipe. Yippie!

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a fabulous job on your strudel. I'm in awe that you were able to get it into a ring.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

Speedbump Kitchen said...

Great job! The granola is a great idea!

Art of Dessert said...

Hi Libby! I have a little something for you :-)
http://artofdessert.blogspot.com/2009/05/lemonade-stand-award.html

isa said...

I also substituted homemade granola for the walnuts. Great job!

NoMilkMama said...

You are amazing!