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.
I felt a lot of excitement for this challenge because I adore puff pastry and have wanted to try making my own for some time, and of course anything with apples, spices, and rum-soaked raisins just has to be good, right? And besides, this gave me a chance to play around with my long-forgotten high school German and prepare for my trip to Germany in a few weeks!
Though I didn’t get the dough perfect this first time, I was pleased with how the strudel turned out overall. The pastry was thin and flaky, though not as thin as it probably could have been if I had more experience, but I learned a lot and that’s what these challenges are all about. The dough cracked a bit when rolled and moved to the baking pan, but it held together when baked.
We really liked the flavor of the rum-soaked raisins and spiced apples. Next time I will divide the dough and make two smaller strudels with different fillings, perhaps cherries or a savory strudel with spinach.
Tips for Success
I am by no means a strudel expert, but here are a few tips I picked up from fellow Daring Bakers as well as some things I learned along the way.
- You may want to make a second batch of dough to keep on hand in case you have problems with the first batch. And if everything turns out perfect you can always make another.
- Give yourself plenty of room to work when stretching the dough, perhaps on a table. Make sure you can walk all the way around it.
- Use a large tablecloth or an old cut sheet to cover the surface. Just make sure it is larger than 2 feet (60 cm) by 3 feet (90 cm). My cloth had a hem all around it, and next time I would make sure it didn’t have a hem because it got in the way when I was rolling and stretching.
- Rub a lot of flour into the cloth because the dough will stick if there isn’t enough flour. When you rub your hand on the surface of the cloth, you should feel the flour, not the cloth texture.
- Work quickly. My dough started to dry out a bit as I worked and it cracked when I rolled up the filled strudel.
Many thanks to Linda and Courtney for hosting this month and choosing a fun and delicious challenge for all of us. To see more strudels, visit The Daring Kitchen Blogroll and the Daring Bakers Gallery at Foodgawker.
Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel)
- small bowl
- large skillet
- food processor (for bread crumbs)
- stand mixer with paddle and hook attachments
- baking sheet, lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat
- table or large counter space
- tablecloth or large cotton cloth or sheet, smooth weave
- 2 tablespoons golden rum (I used Captain Morgan Spiced Rum.)
- 3 tablespoons raisins
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (plus 1 tablespoon)
- ½ cup unsalted butter (melted, divided)
- 1½ cups fresh bread crumbs
- ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 2 pounds tart cooking apples (peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices. I used Granny Smith.)
- 1⅓ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 7 tablespoons water (plus more if needed)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus more for coating the dough)
- ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 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. Change to the dough hook. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.
- 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).
- While the dough rests, mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.
- 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.
- It will 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 work area with a 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.
- The dough will become too large to hold. 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
More Daring Challenges
You can see all of my previous Daring Bakers Challenges in the the Daring Challenges list.