Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge: Strudel, ja!!

This might be the funnest baking challenge yet. Joe loved it so much that he helped me make a few more (and eat most of them). I wanted something different from the usual apple filling, so I made Cherry Cheese Strudel.

I was surprised by how easy it is to make strudel, especially the dough. Holes and tears are inevitable, and I sure had some, but they're not visible after the dough is rolled up and baked. It comes out beautifully golden and crispy, and the cherry filling is delicious. You do need a lot of space -- a whole table to move around -- and a cloth for assembling the dough. The rollup is definitely my favorite part!

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.

The dough had to be rolled out thin, then stretched and pulled even thinner.

You had to be able to read through it. Then came the cherry and cheese filling.

Filling adapted from Martha Stewart's Cherry Cheese Strudel
I had to adapt the filling to fit the smaller dough recipe used in this challenge. I also used a bag of frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed.
12 oz. fresh sour cherries, stemmed and pitted, juices reserved
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cornstarch
6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 large egg yolk

Combine the cherries and their juice, half the sugar, half the salt, and cinnamon in a medium high-sided skillet. Place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Cook until juice is reduced, about 10 minutes. Transfer 2 tablespoons of juice to a small bowl; add the cornstarch, and whisk until combined. Return mixture to skillet and cook, stirring until thickened, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, and the remaining sugar and salt on medium-high speed until very smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk, and beat to combine.

Once you've rolled out the dough, starting about 6 inches from the top edge, spread the cream cheese in a 6-inch-wide layer, horizontally, leaving a 3-inch border on each end. Arrange the cherry mixture evenly on top of the cream cheese. Using the cloth, lift up and flip the 6-inch top edge of the dough over the filling. Repeat lifting and folding once, leaving sides open. Then fold in sides of dough to enclose the filling. Continue lifting and folding until the dough is completely rolled into a flat log. If the ends are very thick, trim them as you work.

The recipe for the strudel dough (along with the apple filling suggested in the challenge) and the remaining instructions follow.

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.

Posting date for the May Challenge is May 27th.
(Please also read the tips and notes on the trial runs Courtney and I did. You'll find them below the recipes.)
Preparation time
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes
15-20 min to make dough
30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough
10 min to fill and roll dough
30 min to bake
30 min to cool
Apple strudel
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
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) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
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 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.
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 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.
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. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.
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.
Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
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.
- Ingredients are cheap so we would recommend making a double batch of the dough, that way you can practice the pulling and stretching of the dough with the first batch and if it doesn't come out like it should you can use the second batch to give it another try;
- The tablecloth can be cotton or polyster;
- 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.
Both Courtney and I did a trial run on making the strudel. Below are our notes:
Courtney's notes
- She could't get it to stretch to 2 feet by 3 feet, it turned out more like 2 feet by 2 feet. But the dough was tissue thin nevertheless;
- She got some serious holes, but after rolling it wasn't noticeable;
- She used a large cheese cloth which helped manipulate and stretch the dough more than a heavier cloth would have.
My notes
- I made the dough by hand, just mixed the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Kneaded it for about 5 min like you would bread dough. This worked as well. Haven't tried using a standmixer so I don't know how it compares.
- Instead of cider vinegar I used red wine vinegar;
- I used bread flour;
- Picking up the dough to let it stretch didn't work well for me, holes appeared pretty much instantly. Instead I stretched the dough while it was lying on the tablecloth by putting my hands underneath and stretching it out further and further;


  1. What a perfect cherry cheese strudel! Flaky and so yummy looking. Nice job!

  2. Your strudel looks so delicious! I love the flavor combination!

  3. Cherry and cheese is such a great combination.
    No wonder you were coerced into making more! Your strudel looks delish!
    Great job!

  4. Your rolling job on the dough is perfectly transparent! ;-)
    Excellent choice of filling!

  5. My son is also a big fan of 2nd breakfast! Cherries and cheese, yum!

  6. When I lived in Germany this was one of my favorite brunch strudels. Nice job. Lucky Hubby :)

  7. I love, love your flavor combo. Great job!

  8. love the cherry cheese filling, sound delicious!

  9. Thanks, everybody! :) This was a fun challenge.

  10. Beautiful strudel!

  11. Beautiful Strudel!! Your flavours sound amazing =D!

  12. Fantastic job! They look perfect. So neatly filled and rolled.

  13. The spirit of the Daring Bakers is it is not a competition BUT what is respected is trying to do the challenge using your best efforts and you did just that this a wonderful strudel and I just adore cherries. Wonderful pictures I really like the first pix. I rememeber you were one of the 1st to finish and I have read in other blogs you effort really helped them overcame some fears they had about the dough stretching phase of the recipe. Bravo on your inspiration. Cheers from Audax

  14. Looks so delicious. I love Cherry filling. I made one myself, but my exploded in the baking process...the mascarpone leaked out! :P

  15. Looks great! I agree that the pickin n stretchin technique isn't for us beginners, lol.

  16. The way you have it arranged makes me think of king cake! Looks fantastic with such a crisp and flaky crust. Wonderful job!

  17. Great job! Beautiful strudel!


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