I remember about 8 years or was it 10, my memory fails me now, when Apple Strudel became a craze here in Singapore. As there were only so few outlets which would sell these desserts, people would queue for ages on weekends just to take one home. And you guess right, I too was one of those. It’s often said that a favourite past-time for Singaporeans is to queue for anything that is new, be it food, a new product, a new restaurant … basically anything that is new! I guess the craze has now waned off as I don’t see that much excitement hanging out in strudel shops. Maybe we’ve had enough of it or maybe that so many have now sprung up over the island, that it may be a case of one too many! Whatever it is, a strudel is a great dessert to serve at a dinner party or simply to treat yourself once in a while. The strudels we get here in the shops look more like mille fueille (open faced) rather than the ones that are being baked by Daring Bakers this month.
I had actually wanted to come up with two variations this month, i.e. a sweet and a savoury strudel. However time was against me and thus had to settle for one only. Instead of using the recipe provided, I used a pretty similar recipe for the filing. We loved eating this strudel especially warm from the oven, the crispy outer layer and the infusion of the sweet and tart fruit filing inside ... simply delicious! Many thanks to Linda and Courtney for coming up with a recipe to challenge us all.
Apple, Blueberry and Cranberry Strudel
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
For the Strudel Filing:
70g fresh breadcrumbs
170g butter, melted
150g brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
4 granny smith apples, cubed into 1/2" pieces
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cut chopped walnuts
1) In a frying pan, lightly fry the fresh breadcrumbs in 70g of the melted butter until golden. Set aside to cool.
2) Preheat the oven to 190C (375F). Line a large baking tray with parchment and lightly grease it. Place a rack in the middle of the oven.
3) Make the strudel dough as described in the recipe below.
4) In a large mixing bowl, toss together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon rind. Then add in the fruit and walnuts and mix well. Add ½ teaspoon of flour into the filing to absorb some of the juices that will come out. This will prevent the strudel from becoming soggy whilst baking.
5) 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 filing about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip.
6) 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.
7) Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Using a small sieve, dust with a fine layer of icing sugar. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.
For the Strudel Dough
Recipe 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.
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) 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).
5) 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.
6) 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.
7) 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.