How did it get to be the end of May already?!! I want this summer to be as long and sunny as possible--winter in D.C. almost did me in after 3 years in NOLA. Luckily, Liza Jane and I have decided that this is "The Summer of No Sleep," and we intend to enjoy every balmy, humid hour of every day from now until August. We shall have rockin' tans, and lots of mosquito bites.
All of this is to say that it's the 27th, so it's time to reveal the May Daring Bakers' Challenge.
This month's challenge was a rustic Strudel recipe. I'm not much of a baker, so I joined the Daring Bakers to learn. Sure, I braise, fry, smoke with confidence, but give me a recipe with exact measurements and I die a little inside.
And in the case of this strudel recipe, I fudge it, and use some "E.Lee Tips and Tricks" that go horribly wrong, and I end up throwing my second batch of dough on the floor before deciding to stick to the recipe on the third batch.
Luckily, following the recipe actually worked. Go figure. The real challenge to this recipe is the stretching. According to one Daring Baker, you should "be able to read a love letter through the dough" once it's properly stretched. Yikes! I opted to simply ensure that you could see my middle finger raised at batches #1 and #2 through my stretched batch #3, and it seemed to work out well enough.
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.
Once it was stretched, I filled my strudel dough with sliced super-ripe pears, dried cranberries, goat cheese and almonds, and then I topped it with a muscato-honey drizzle with nutmeg and fresh flowers. It was goaty, and super sweet, and pretty tasty. And so I say, take THAT jerkface strudel dough!
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes
**I substituted the Apple filling for a Pear, Goat Cheese filling, using the Kaffeehaus recipe as a guidepost***
2 Tbs. Golden Rum
3 Tbs. Dried Cranberries
1/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/4 cup Sugar
1 1/2 cups ground Honey-flavored Cookies (not low-fat)
1/2 cup Almond Slivers
2 lbs. peeled ripe Pears
Strudel Dough (recipe below)
5 Tbs. Butter, melted
4 oz. Goat Cheese
2 cups Muscato wine
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
2 Tbs. Honey
1. Mix the rum and cranberries in a bowl. Mix the nutmeg and sugar in another bowl.
2. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands. Sprinkle the buttered dough with the cookie crumbs. Spread the almonds about 3 inches from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-wide strip. Mix the pears with the cranberry-rum mixture, and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the almonds. Dot with teaspoonfuls of the goat cheese.
3. 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.
4. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. While the strudel is baking, bring the muscato to a slow boil over medium high heat in a small sauce pan. Add the nutmeg and honey, and boil until the liquid has reduced to 3/4 cup. When the strudel is done baking, cool for at least 30 minutes before drizzling with the honey glaze and slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.
1 1/3 cups Unbleached Flour
1/8 tsp. Salt
7 Tbs. Water, plus more if needed
2 Tbs. Vegetable Oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 tsp. 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 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.
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.
- Before pulling and stretching the dough, remove your jewelry from hands and wrists, and wear short-sleeves;
- To make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table;
- Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.