Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My FIRST Daring Bakers' 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.

When I first read that the challenge was going to be strudel I thought "Yikes," but reading the tips and watching a "how-to" video made it less intimidating:) Everyone is so helpful and positive! I would never have even thought to make strudel if not for this challenge, but that's the name of the game:)

I decided to stick with the classic apple variation since I had never made strudel and thought that would be a good initiation. I used tart granny smith apples.

My dough was very soft and sticky, so although I didn't dare add any flour directly to the dough, I did lightly flour my hands to make it workable in the kneading process. The rolled out dough measured about 2 ft.x 2 ft. and was so delicate and thin that I was almost afraid to put the filling in...I thought for sure the whole thing would tear when I rolled it up!(I kicked myself for being so
absorbed that I forgot to take photos during the process!)
It didn't end up as tightly rolled as I would have liked and as you can see it does have a visible hole or two making it look a bit rustic, but overall I was very pleased when I pulled it out of the oven:) I like the golden brown color:)

Since I started making the strudel late at night, and we needed to let it cool for at least 30 minutes, it literally ended up being a "midnight snack" for my husband and me:) It was flaky and not too sweet...just right! We really enjoyed it!

I would like to make strudel again until I get the dough process more refined...thinner and larger and rolled up tighter!

I really enjoyed my first challenge and look forward to the next!!!

Recipe below(includes tips, and notes from hosts Courtney and Linda):

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(I used vanilla)
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 polyester;

- 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 couldn'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.

Linda's 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 stand mixer 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. Well done on your 1st challenge, welcome to DB... great idea making strudel as midnight snak ;) Btw, your munckins are so cute and adorable :)

  2. Congratulations on your first challenge! I've only joined the DBs recently myself, and I also find the group incredibly helpful.

    Your strudel looks great! I personally like the rustic aspect. Good job!

  3. Congratulations on your first Daring Bakers!! And a great one too, it looks delicious!

  4. OMG I didn't know this was your first!! WELCOME lady!
    Your strudel looks great. What a doozie for your 1st challenge.
    See you next month!

  5. Welcome to the Daring Bakers! Great job on your first challenge! You really nailed your first challenge - and how on earth can you stay up for a midnight snack with little ones? Wow.

  6. Your strudel looks yum. I love the golden brown color you achieved. It was my First Challenge too and I agree that the tips given by the group helped me a lot. I doubt I would have attempted making a strudel without the challenge.

  7. Congrats on your first challenge and welkom in DB :) Your strudel looks great!

  8. Cograts on your first challenge, you did a beautiful job - your strudel is perfect!

  9. Hi Sue, nice to meet you!
    I am only at my second challenge but I should say: great job!
    Are those in the pics your kids? 2 boys and 2 girls? how lucky! I have six ... but all boys!
    Very nice blog and graphic!
    A huge kiss to each Munchkin!

  10. mmm....what a perfect midnight snack!

  11. Welcome to DB Sue! Your strudel looks good - if you had not mentioned the holes, I wouldn't have noticed them at all!

  12. Congrats on your first challenge! You did an excellent job and your strudel looks great.

  13. Welcome to Daring Bakers! Great job on this month's challenge!

  14. Welcme to the Daring Bakers! You did a great job.

  15. congratulations on your first challenge! i had some of my strudel for midnight snack, too! LOL! you did an awesome job!!!!!

  16. Congrats on successfully completing your first challenge! Your strudel looks really good...yep my taster is a good boy! Hehe he enjoyed it! Thanks for dropping by!.

  17. Great 1st challenge! Nice color and texture, it looks like a delicious midnight snack.

  18. Yum! This looks great! And yay for your first challenge.

  19. Great job on your very first challenge, the strudel looks fantastic!

  20. Nicely done first challenge! I love the rustic look of your strudel, it looks very tasty! I'm also kind of a DB newbie (this was my fourth challenge) and I've found the group very supportive and helpful. See you next month!

  21. Congrats and welcome! Your first challenge looks wonderful!

  22. THANK YOU everyone!

    I truly appreciate your comments and look forward to tackling next month's challenge and checking in on yours! :)

  23. Congratulations on your first challenge! Your strudel looks really delicious I also found it delicious because it was not too sweet