When will I finally learn not to wait until the last minute to make my monthly Daring Bakers recipe? Once again I found myself in the kitchen on the day before the post is due, finishing baking so I could take pictures and put a post together. But hey, at least I'm not doing it on posting day this month! =) I had originally planned to make this month's recipe while Jamie's parents were here, but that didn't happen. Then I was going to do it on my day off last week, but I got sick. And this past weekend got away from me, between bagels and brownies. Fortunately I had this afternoon off, so there was one last chance.
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.
My first thought on reading the selection at the beginning of the month was "Wow, now that will definitely be a challenge! Strudel kind of scares me." But that's why I joined this group, right? Once I read the recipe, it didn't seem as scary, and it promised not to be too time-consuming. Which turned out to be a really good thing, since I waited so long! There really weren't any special ingredients needed. In fact, the only requirement was that we had to make the strudel dough--the filling was completely flexible, sweet or savory.
As I was driving home after working this morning, I was still trying to decide what to make. I've had some apples sitting in the bottom of my fridge for a while, and I figured I'd just use them. But then I started trying to figure out what to make for dinner, and it hit me. Why not make two strudels--one savory and one sweet? I could divide the dough in half. I was kind of worried about having too much strudel anyway, and I didn't think it would keep well.
I mixed up the dough, which didn't take all that long. It was very easy to work with, and quite nice to knead. Since I knew it had to rest for a while, I left it covered on the counter while I went to pick the girls up from schools. (It rested for about 2 hours.) I was kind of afraid of trying to stretch out the dough successfully with the two of them underfoot, but I was running out of time. And it actually worked out a lot better than I expected. Before I started playing with the dough, though, I prepared my filling ingredients.
For the savory version, I sauteed some leeks. Then I diced some red potatoes (skin on) and sauteed them as well. I didn't cook either of them completely, but wanted to give them a head start to make sure they would cook through in the oven. I also chopped some fresh thyme leaves and shredded some fontina cheese.
I got out my rolling pin, but didn't even use it. As soon as I divided the dough in half, it started stretching. I transported it over to my kitchen table, which I'd prepared with a floured tablecloth. I stretched the dough a lot like I stretch pizza dough, working around the edges, and stretching it over the backs of my hands. It got really thin really quickly, but I managed to keep it from developing a lot of holes. I was pretty impressed that I could see the pattern of the tablecloth so clearly through it!
Once it was big enough, I drizzled the dough with some melted butter which I smeared around (carefully) with my fingers. Then I scattered crisped bread crumbs over the whole thing. I layered my filling ingredients across one end of the dough and trimmed the thick edges from all sides of the dough. (Brianna had fun playing with the scraps.)
Then, as instructed, I used the tablecloth to help roll the strudel over on itself until it was all rolled up.
I carefully transferred the roll to a parchment-lined baking sheet and drizzled a bit more melted butter on top. Then it went into a 400 degree F oven for 30 minutes.
While that one was baking, I mixed up ingredients for the sweet version. I diced a bunch of fresh peaches and put them in a bowl. Then I added some sugar, a bit of freshly ground nutmeg, some ground ginger and a teaspoon or two of cornstarch. I didn't really measure anything, sorry. =) I repeated the assembly process and soon had the second one ready for the oven. Brianna tried some right after dinner when it was still pretty warm, while Jamie and I waited until after the girls were in bed (our reward for surviving the bedtime shenanigans).
The verdict? My mom is surely looking down on me and laughing. This is probably revenge for all the dinners I complained about as a child. Even though she tasted and claimed to like all the components that went into the savory strudel, Brianna refused to eat the finished product. She picked some of the peaches out of the fruit version, but left most of that on the plate, too. Gillian wasn't much better. Jamie and I really enjoyed both. The combination of flavors in the savory version was similar to other dishes I've made, so it wasn't surprising that we liked it. The texture was very nice as well. The fruit version was a bit softer, probably from the excess juice, but still very tasty.
If you want to give this one a try, head over to Linda's blog for the recipe and instructions. It really was much easier than I expected. And be sure to check out the Daring Bakers blogroll for lots of other great strudel creations.
Dough scraps make great playdough. =)