This month’s Daring Baker’s challenge brought back many memories of my dear maternal grandmother. It was fascinating for a little girl like me to watch my ‘Baba’ as she miraculously transformed a small ball of dough into a thin sheet of pastry that draped the entire kitchen table, including a generous vertical on all sides that headed towards the floor!
At the time, of course, I could only imagine that I would be making my own strudel dough one day. As an adult, I always believed it to be too delicate a process that required a lot of experience and skill…NOT! It is so easy to make and much tastier than the purchased frozen fillo sheets. I think I’m even going to convince my sister, Vesna, who regularly makes apple strudel, to give it a try.
My ‘Baba’s’ strudel filling was made of apples that were grated and not chopped. When apples are grated and combined with sugar and cinnamon, they release a lot of their juices. This sweet, cinnamon-y apple juice is the best byproduct of all, and it’s that which my siblings and I fought over! Today, I savored the sweet juice once again, and privately toasted my Baba and thanked Linda and Courtney for choosing apple strudel for this month’s DB challenge.
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.
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 the rest of the ingredients in a medium size bowl. Mix together with a spoon until combined. If it is dry, add a little more water.
2. Transfer to a work surface and knead by hand, using a sparse amount of flour, if necessary. Knead for about 5 minutes, and pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly oil it on all sides with olive oil. Transfer it to a plate. Cover the ball with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes, the longer the 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 a table cloth, dust it with flour and rub the flour into the fabric. Put your dough in the middle and pat it out as much as you can. Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. The weight of the dough and gravity will help stretch it as it hangs. Use the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it as well.
4. When the dough becomes too large to hold, put it on the table cloth. Continue to gently stretch the dough as you walk around the table. If it tears, keep on going – it won’t be noticeable when it’s rolled up. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough using the backs of your hands. You will have a thick edge that may hang over the edge of the table.
When the dough measures about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough can sit for a few minutes while you make the filling, but do not let it dry out. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease parchment lightly with a little melted butter.
Apple and Cherry filling (my version)
- 1/2 cup plain crumbs, lightly toasted
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and ground
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Combine crumbs, walnuts and brown sugar in a small bowl. Using a spoon, sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of melted butter on dough and spread it gently with your fingers. Sprinkle the crumb/nut mixture on dough, as shown below.
- 4 Granny Smith apples, or any other tart apple
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup cherries, pitted and halved
Peel the apples and grate them using the coarse side of a grater. Place them in a bowl and add the sugar and cinnamon. Let apples sit for about 10 minutes so that the juices are released. Using your hands, squeeze grated apples gently, leaving most of the apple juice in the bowl. Transfer apple to another bowl. Add cherries and combine.
The delicious apple juice is in the glass
Spread the apple filling along one long edge of the dough. Grasp the tablecloth with both hands and lift it up so that the dough and filling roll up to the other end. At this point you can curve the roll into a U-shape and place it on the baking sheet, or cut it into two long rolls and place them side by side on the baking sheet. Brush the top and sides of the roll with the remaining melted butter. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for about 20-30 minutes or until nicely browned.
Cool on rack for about 30 minutes. To finish, sprinkle some confectioner’s sugar on top of strudel through a sieve.