Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Daring Bakers-Strudel Challenge

This month's challenge was one I was especially looking forward to making. Apple Strudel is an ultimate comfort dessert for me. It has the goodness of apples, the comfort of heat, and brings back loads of memories. It is common to find offerings of apple strudel in many pastry shops in northern Italy. The Austrian Hungarian Empire before WWI included the area now known as Sud Tirolo, in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy. Like many other bordering areas, this part has influenced the surrounding territories in many ways, especially with food. Many people still speak Austrian German in the area, they have German last names, and some treat you differently if you are Italian. I used to spend wonderful skiing vacations in Val Badia, one of the most incredible skiing resorts in the Alps. I have fond memories of the food I ate while vacationing there, especially of the deer sausages eaten with caraway flatbreads, and the ever present Apfelstrudel. I remember like it was yesterday the anticipation for that warm slice of strudel after a full day of skiing, tired and hungry we would devour it in just few seconds. The best apple strudel I ever tasted was in Austria, while vacationing with my group of "old" friends, but sadly I don't remember were we were. My friend Paola makes a wonderful strudel but she gets teased mercifully because it looked like a crescent, therefore re-named el curasan, or croissant, in the Venetian dialect.

I had never tried making it until I bought an issue of Savor magazine where they showed in details how to stretch the dough and gave a recipe that proved really good and true to the original. I became a fanatic of strudel and made it over and over for months, always with apples. The strudel was always great but I didn't quite learn how to stretch the dough perfectly until I worked with DMG, who taught me how to pull the dough to its thinnest. I took to the task of making the strudel at the restaurant with lots of passion and loved doing it. His recipe had some bread flour and it worked like a charm every time.

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.

For this challenge, I decided to make a traditional strudel with apples, but I used some port sour cherries I had in the fridge instead of the raisins. I made a lemon-thyme creme fraiche ice cream to go with it, and the combination worked well.

Because cherries are so plentiful now I also made a version with cherries to which I added pistachio streusel instead of the bread crumbs. I made a lemon verbena sabayon and the two worked well together.

Inspired by other bloggers, I finally decided to try something new as well, or should I say play with my food. I rolled to dough to setting #7 of my kitchen aid pasta attachment, then cut it with a round cookie cutter. I then sprinkled some powder sugar on each round before baking them at 400F for few minutes, until nice and browned. I then made a napoleon with the lemon verbena mascarpone sabayon, sprinkling some of the pistachio streusel I made last month on top.

You can find the complete recipe in Linda's blog.

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.

Thanks to Linda and Courtney for choosing this month's challenge and to see more creations check out the official site for the Daring Bakers.


Jenny Tan said...

They look fabulous! I waited till the last minute too --- sort of...made mine 2 days ago, and finish up this morning! :P

Lien said...

Complimenti for making such an original variation with the strudel dough, looks so good.

enza said...

ma bello oggi ho la riunione delle mamme a scuola e non posso leggere.
a più tardi.

Simona said...

I had my first taste of Apfelstrudel somewhere in the Alps, though I don't remember exactly where. It may have been in Cortina. Your strudel looks gorgeous.

Jill said...

Laura--WOW!! Your pictures are so beautiful!! What a creative idea with the strudel dough!

Thanks for your kind comments on my blog a couple of weeks ago. I've been crazy busy, and have gotten behind. I'd love to hear more about what you are doing in the bay area. Good luck at farmer's market! :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, all your creations are fantastic! I particularly like that strudel millefeuille! Gorgeous!



Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Wow, they all look great but the napoleon is just spectacular!

LegalAlien said...

Great job! I love the port sour cherries and deconstruction is something that always fascinates me!


Lisa Michelle said...

Phenomenal strudels, especially the stacked one!! Plus, the flavors and photos are incredible! Amazing job!

sweetakery said...

wow! great job! just yum!

Cupcake said...

What a lovely presentation!

Rose said...

Laura! WOW! Gorgeous strudels!!! I am impressed :) Lovely sight btw.

Anonymous said...

GORGEOUS job!! I especially love the little tower of strudel :)

Claire said...

Pistachio strudel? and stacked? SO COOL! Great job!

BICE said...

E' bellissimo!!!
Deve anche essere eccezionalmente buono!
Poi i pistacchi con le ciliegie legano benissimo.
Spero di riuscire a provarlo.

Laura said...

Thanks everybody, I am so glad you all liked it. I love playing with food, and dessert offer the perfect excuse, it is like being an artist and the colors of fruit work so well.

Waiting to see what the next challenge will be....

Tartelette said...

Beautiful Laura! Love the idea of pistachio streusel inside and around! Just love that we both played with cherries and nut streusel (I used hazelnuts) in our challenge :)


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