Before I begin my adventures in strudel and strudeling, I’d like to preface this entry by letting you all know that today (May 27th – I posted this 20 minutes early) is my 1 year Blogiversary. Time sure flies since it seems like just yesterday that I started this blog. OK, balloons, streamers, whoot whoots, et al. Yay for me *twirling finger*.
Now onto the important stuff. YES, the title of this entry is a little confusing isn’t it? For this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge we were challenged to make a strudel the authentic way; authentic as in rolling and stretching out a somewhat small piece of dough to 2 by 3 feet across a table until it’s so paper thin, you could read the NY Times through it without having to even squint. We’re talking phyllo dough thin here!
Now, I’ve seen this done many times before, but my first thought was always the same..
Not in a million years, unless I have at least three people with NO fingernails and a soft touch, helping me.
Well, I had none of the above, but I had a rolling pin and my knuckles. I’ve made many a strudel in my lifetime, but I always use phyllo dough, so this was definitely a first for me, and a daunting first at that!
Unfortunately, unlike most of the Daring Bakers, I was only able to get this dough to 2 by a little over 1 foot, and it was so thin, I could barely lift it without tearing it. I marveled at how some of my fellow Daring Bakers were able to stretch this dough into giant sheets of translucent perfection. They could probably make 20 wrap around skirts with it, or end up with enough ‘stretch’ to turn out the largest strudel ever known to man, resulting in some kind of strudel world record. Howdchoo all do that??
Alright, back to my somewhat confusing title. We were given full reign when it came to fillings for the strudel, the dough being the main factor. I decided I would attempt both a sweet and savory strudel, edging on tropical with a pineapple-cheese strudel, but going utterly fusion crazy with the savory, as in a Char SIU (get it,Striudel?) pork filling with water chestnuts and scallions.
For those who don’t know, Char Siu pork is the base for the filling you find in Char Siu Bao, those delicious steamed or baked buns you find at Dim Sum, Asian bakeries, and any pork you find in any dish containing pork at your local Chinese takeout; you know, the meat with the reddish tinge in your rice?
Let’s just say that China and Austria make a lovely couple in my savory take on this preparation.
Before I continue to ramble on, how could I forget the ‘paragraph’? The DB-BOT has yet to infiltrate the DC challenge, so that was a little less typing on my part, but Big Brother is watching keenly over this one, so here we go…!
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. Thank you for a great challenge, and I DO mean CHALLENGE, Courtney and Linda!
Due to the amount of Char Siu filling, and the fact that I could not elongate, prolongate, roll, pull, plead with, or beg that damn dough to stretch more than 2 feet, I was only able to achieve about two layers. Not only that, but my dough stuck to the well floured white cotton sheet I used. With each half roll, the Char Siu filling just dying to burst out and turn the sheet crimson, I delicately chiseled the dough off the sheet with a bench scraper, millimeter by millimeter across the roll, to release it without tearing. That in itself was a feat, and I could have swam across the English Channel and back in the time it took.
With each release, the dough rolling over cleanly, I let out an audible “YESSSS!” a la Marv Albert prior to his back biting follies. Regardless, it still turned out ‘okay’ looking and was devoured by all.
With that said, when I decided to go with the Char Siu Pork and sauce, I contemplated panko bread crumbs, but then thought..Chinese, Japanese and Austrian? Hmm..there could be trouble in that menage a trois, a la Jackie Chan, Michiko Nishiwaki, and Arnold Schwarzenegger fighting over who gets to play the action hero, so I just used some fresh, plain, toasted bread crumbs as the recipe suggested, and decided to leave Japan for another day or strudel. A topping of egg wash, coarse sea salt and black and white sesame seeds was the finishing touch.
A friend made a good point. Why wrap up the delicious char siu pork in strudel dough when there’s barely any strudel dough (due to my inability to stretch the dough to give me loads of layers)? He’s right, but I just felt like it. Had I gotten more strudel layers, it would have been better. Maybe? Yeah, this char siu pork is pretty darn amazing on its own; no need for any kind of wrapper.
I should have just done my savory strudel with vegetables or seafood, like a spinach crab or shrimp strudel, or maybe something ‘potatoey’ with cheese and maybe beef, BUT, I do have a pineapple cheese strudel; UP NEXT!
SO, I had a slightly easier time with the dough for the pineapple cheese strudel, as in 2 by 2 feet, which gave me about 3 to 4 layers. But, you know the old adage..practice makes perfect, and now that I’ve gotten the technique that I avoided for so long, out of my system, there just might be plenty of strudel making in coming months. I’ll do this until I master it and achieve layers upon layers upon layers of flaky love.
Wait, who am I kidding? That will never happen. I’m guessing there may be one or two more homemade strudel dough stretchings in my future, and that’s being generous. I think I’ll stick to phyllo when I get the urge to strudel splurge.
Speaking of love, I haven’t given much attention to my pineapple-cheese strudel, so, here she is. Yes, I’ve decided this strudel is of the female persuasion, while it seems apropos that the pork strudel is a guy. Heh.
By the way, the recipe for the pineapple-cheese strudel is straight from my late paternal grandma’s weathered recipe box, with a few tweaks by me, like cutting the cream cheese with chevre.
To finish it off, I brushed the top with reduced pineapple juice and a little sanding sugar, and after baking and cooling, plated it with a take on Claudia Fleming’s passion fruit caramel, substituting pineapple for the passion fruit.
How to Make Strudel
I can’t help thinking of Apfelkuchen, this easy German Apple cake my friend’s Mom, who was from Weisbaden, used to make. Even better than French Apple Cake, IMO.
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
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
2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
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.
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 polyster;
– 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.
For just the Char Siu Pork, (Red Roast Pork) omit the strudel dough.
- Dough from apple strudel recipe above (only if you're making the pork strudel. Otherwise, the pork on its own is AMAZING!)
- 2 pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder OR a nice 2 lb pork tenderloin
- ⅔ cup chopped water chestnuts or 1 cup sliced water chestnuts
- ½ cup chopped scallions
- 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ½ teaspoon 5-spice powder
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry
- 2 garlic cloves - minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- About 2 teaspoons of red food coloring or 2 drops of red gel paste (optional)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- ⅔ cup chopped onion
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- ½ cup chicken stock or broth
- Additional red food coloring or gel paste if desired
black and white sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.
- In a blender container or food processor bowl with metal blade, combine all the marinade ingredients except pork, water chestnuts and scallions; blend until smooth. Place pork in a zip lock bag and pour marinade over it. Let it marinate for at least 2-4 hours, or overnight.
- Remove pork from marinade and generously brush with the marinade, reserving remaining marinade as a basting sauce. Place pork butt on lined pan and bake at 375 F for 30 minutes. Remove pork from oven. Baste pork butt or shoulder with remaining basting sauce. Bake an additional 20 - 30 minutes or until no longer pink in the center, or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F. Remove from oven, let cool.
- When cool, chop the pork into small cubes or slices and stir in water chestnuts and scallions. Place in the refrigerator until ready to combine with the sauce
- In small bowl or cup, combine the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons sherry. Blend well.
- Heat oil in wok or large skillet over high heat. Add onion, cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until onion begins to soften and turn slightly golden. Add garlic, and cook for another minute (be careful it doesn't burn). Add the 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce to the pan and stir to coat. Add broth and toasted sesame oil and stir until combined. Let cook for about 1 more minute. Stir in food coloring if using.
- Stir in cornstarch mixture, and cook while stirring until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat, and stir in the chopped pork. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool, then refrigerate until ready to use for strudel, or any preparation like pork buns or fried rice. OR just eat as is because it's phenomenal as a main dish!
- Follow the exact directions from apple strudel recipe above subbing the char siu pork for the apple filling, but still using the breadcrumbs. The only difference will be the addition of black and white sesame seeds and coarse sea salt to top the egg washed strudel prior to baking.
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 can crushed pineapple (20 ounces), packed in its own juice, if fresh pineapple is not available. Set aside 3 tablespoons of the juice for brushing on strudels before baking.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 12 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 ounces chevre
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 egg
- 12 sheets phyllo dough
- ¾ cup melted unsalted butter
- Granulated, sanding or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top
- In heavy saucepan combine cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add the can of pineapple and mix everything together until the pineapple is coated well. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Once mixture comes to a boil continue stirring constantly for approximately 5 minutes, or until thickened and like lemon curd.Remove from heat and add butter, stirring to melt.
- Let cool, then place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface. Chill in the refrigerator until set.
- Combine the cream cheese, chevre and powdered sugar in a stand mixer bowl. With the paddle attachment beat the mixture on medium speed until light and creamy. Add the egg and beat until well blended.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Lay a sheet of phyllo on a surface with the long end facing you. (Keep remaining phyllo under a damp tea towel.) Brush with melted butter. Lay another sheet on top and continue brushing and layering until you have 6 sheets of phyllo layered and buttered.
- Spoon half the cheese filling onto the bottom third of the phyllo, leaving a 6-inch border along the bottom and 1½-inch border along the sides. Form the cheese mixture into a log. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, press the log in half and spoon half the pineapple in the center space created. Roll the strudel away from you, turning once. Fold the sides in (letter style), securing well, and then roll it the rest of the way.
- Repeat all of the above with the remaining phyllo and fillings to make another strudel.
- Place the 2 strudels side by side, at least 2 inches apart, on a large, parchment lined (12 x 17) baking sheet seam side down. Brush with any remaining melted butter and reserved pineapple juice and sprinkle with granulated sugar, Cut two small slits in the top of the phyllo to let steam escape.
- Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until golden and puffy. Remove from oven and let cool.
Well…that’s all folks!