Wish I was there . .
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27 May 2009

Daring Baker - Strudel

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 had never made strudel before and other than using the dough recipe, the challenge left the filling choices up to the baker. I chose apples, dried cherries and golden raisins. I served it with some vanilla syrup and fresh cream. Overall, this was a success on the first try. The dough rolled out to just under 2 feet by 3 feet with a few holes, but when folded over the apple/cherry mixture was fully covered. The bottom was crusty and flaky, but the top eventually became a bit too soft. I can see using this recipe again -especially in the autumn with pears or grilled veggies and some cheese.

For the most part, I followed the recipe below. I did allow the dough to sit for more than three hours, and as I stretched it, I periodically allowed it to rest (I used the rest time to slice the apples). I did substitute the dried cherries for the nuts and set the cherries to soak in the rum with the raisins. And I baked it about 10 minutes longer and would recommend even a bit longer. Patience was the key to working with the dough.

Enjoy the photos and try not to drool on your computer!

Apple strudelfrom “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

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.

Strudel doughfrom “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.

Tips from the hosts
- 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.

25 May 2009

Bad Parent.

To celebrate the end of school, yesterday we went to Epcot. We woke up, dressed, had breakfast, packed a few snacks, loaded everyone into the car, and drove 45 minutes to Epcot. We parked the car, walked to the entrance, had our bags searched, and showed our tickets for admission. We went to Spaceship Earth and the Universe of Energy Pavilion. We walked to Mexico and rode the boat twice. We met up with Hubby's cousin and walked to Norway, looked at the church, and rode with the Viking and watched a movie. It was then that Hubby's cousin asked about Hew's hair. It was then that we noticed that our youngest gave himself a hair cut before we left for Epcot. There were large chunks missing from the front, one side, the top, and the back.

. . . in our defense, he did have a hat on once we got into Epcot.

18 May 2009

Really, I haven't disappeared. I've just been a bit busy. The last day of school for the kids is Thursday so we have the usual round up of class parties, field trips, and performances. We have also had planned and unplanned company to dinner. Finally, I have been playing with a birthday gift. I am only on page 60 out of 200+ pages in the manual, but I've had fun learning. You can see some of the benefits from my new gift below.

All in all, I am just trying to enjoy the last bits before a I am full time parent all day, every day. I have no astounding news, no revelations,. It is hot, the garden is growing, and soon my time will be filled with summer activities for the elementary school sect. Enjoy the pictures for now and soon I'll be writing again.

Have a good week!

06 May 2009


Blooming Cucumbers

Infantile Corn

Act One

Act Two


The Spring Garden
May 3, 2009

04 May 2009

Pre-School Field Trip

Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can't get friendly with a crocodile

Don't be taken in by his welcome grin

He's imagining how well you'd fit within his skin

Never smile at a crocodile
Never dip your hat and stop to talk awhile

Never run, walk away, say good-night, not good-day

Clear the aisle but never smile at Mister Crocodile
Or at Mr. Alligator either!

"Never Smile at a Crocodile"
Peter Pan
Circle B Reserve
April 29, 2009