Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Strudel Me This

I apologize in advance for the grain-iness of the photos, but it was necessary to take them with my cell phone camera if I wanted any visual documentation of this month's challenge....they're not so bad. ;-)

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 cafes of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

It's funny...anytime I think a challenge is going to be a walk in the park, I tend to get a run for my money. I walked into this thinking, No biggie. Whip up some dough; roll; fill with delicious goodies. However, the intricacies of working with gluten show you just how much of a chemistry project baking can be.

The dough came together with very few ingredients, but then had to be kneaded. I kneaded it for about 5 minutes, per the recommendation of several other bakers who had already completed their challenge. I know the success of rising flour has a lot to do with how long, temperature, humidity, etc., but I am still a rookie when it comes to knowing how to balance the elements.

In retrospect, I think my dough could've used a little more lovin' before I started it rising. I had some trouble stretching it thin. It wanted to spring back into its original shape, and not lay flat. This required me to press out the dough which made it stick to the surface I had it on. The surface may have had something to do with my problems as well. I used wax paper, thinking it would be a fine replacement for parchment paper, but it seems wax has less of a non-stick quality to it than parchment. My first attempt at rolling one of these babies up was a flop.

It wouldn't come off the wax paper for anything. Would've been eating wax covered strudel if it hadn't been for the cushion I allowed myself, making an extra batch of dough.

The tablecloth covered with flour perhaps may have been best. That was pure laziness, thinking I would have to do a load of laundry if I pulled out the tablecloth. :-p

I stuck with (no pun intended, hehe!) the wax paper but tripled or quadrupled the amount of flour I layed down. My note to self:

Flour worked like a charm. Here is my traditional apple strudel (sans walnuts) just going into the oven.

Came out looking like this...

I had trouble stretching that dough to an even layer, so there were a few holes in the end.

My second was a strawberry cream cheese strudel. I used about a pint of strawberries, sliced and mixed with about 1/4 c. of sugar and 1 t. of lemon juice. I softened the cream cheese with 1/2 t. vanilla extract and 1/4 c. of sugar (confectioners is preferable with cream cheese, but I used white since we were out). I spread the cream cheese on one end of the dough and placed the strawberries on top of the cheese, then rolled.

This one rolled up quite nicely, but ended up making a huge mess in the oven with its juices. Boo. (Yeah, actually had the smoke alarm going off at one point...)

All in all, a fun, creative challenge for me. (The best kind!) Each challenge I learn a little more about ingredients and techniques. So, even if I walk away with the final product looking a bit less than stellar, I can at least say I gained some valuable tip(s) to help me next time. :-)

The final product: Align Center

Strawberry cream cheese

I would like to try the strudel dough with a savory filling, and I have in mind some other delicious sweet fillings as the fruits become ripe this peaches!!! Mmmm.....


Shirley said...

Mmmmm... I'd love to try the strawberry one!

lisamichele said...

I gad the same problem you did with your apple atrudel, except my dough actually stukc to a well floured sheet! In any event, your strudels came out lovely, and I want that strawberry cream cheese one! Well done!

Tina said...

I also had reservations about using a tablecloth covered in flour, but I thought it was best not to stray from the instructions.
At least you gave yourself a back-up with extra dough!
Yum! Great idea with the strawberry and cream cheese!

Claire said...

Mmm, that strawberry cream cheese looks great. I think peaches would be good, too! Wonderful job!

Dragon said...

Its always smart to have extra dough around. :) Great job on the strudel challenge!

schatzef said...

Looks delicious! :)