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Daring Bakers: Strudel, With Not an Apple in Sight

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 wasn’t going to do apple, was I?

I thought it was about time #2 Son got to take part in one of these posts, so I let him make the filling. He decided on a mix of ground lamb, mashed potatoes, and onions, which was odd because he has always been a bit uncomfortable about lamb in the past. We went to the farmers market together to get the ingredients, but he did the rest alone. He made the mashed potatoes. He browned the lamb. He chopped and sautéed the onions. It’s so nice having kids who can cook.

I made the dough, and it was much easier than I anticipated. I hate rolling out dough (as I may have mentioned once or a hundred times before), and #1 Son is away for the weekend, so I couldn’t even push it off on him. And this dough has to be stretched tissue-thin, to about 2 feet by 3 feet. Feet! Directly on a tablecloth!



The dough was just a simple bread dough, sans yeast, and after resting for 90 minutes it was silky smooth and handled like a dream. Following the hostesses’ advice, I made a double batch, and it’s a good thing I did: My first attempt wasn’t quite as successful as I’d hoped. I crumpled it up and started again, and I did much better the second time. There were a few holes, but it didn’t matter.

Then I brushed the dough with butter and added #2 Son’s filling (in the size and shape called for in the recipe), then rolled it up. It was so cool — it worked exactly as it was supposed to! That so rarely happens in my kitchen (or, in this case, in my dining room). The dough didn’t stick to the tablecloth even a little. Brushed it with butter again.





Baked it for a bit longer than the recipe said, about 35 minutes. Did not wait the specified 30 minutes before cutting, because after all, that was for apple filling. Should have waited a bit longer. Very hot.


But once we could get it into our waiting maws, it was worth the wait. It was essentially shepherd’s pie in a flaky, flaky crust, but that description doesn’t do it justice. I don’t write well enough to do it justice. Even my usually reliable husband is at a loss for words. But it was really good.


#2 Son: I found my filling quite good. You couldn’t really taste the lamb or the onion over the potato [editor’s note: I didn’t notice that], but the potato was delicious. I think the crust was really good.

Update: Husband ate the leftovers two days later, cold. He called it shepherd’s strudel, and he was pleased.


And then I had that sad crumpled ball of dough, and I couldn’t just throw it away. That would have been wrong. So I rolled it out again; I couldn’t get it nearly as big as the other half. I think it wound up about 12 inches by 18 inches. I brushed it with butter, sprinkled it with a mixture of ground almonds, dark brown sugar, and cinnamon, and filled it with chopped milk chocolate and toasted slivered almonds.

That one didn’t come out as pretty, and the crust was much tougher. Guess you can’t roll the dough more than once. But the chocolate was all melty and good. Really, it reminded us all of those lovely rugelach we made last fall. No one minded eating the strudel, tough crust or no.


Check out what all the other Daring Bakers did with the strudel — there are sure to be some amazing variations. And if you want to try it yourself (go ahead — it’s easier than you think!), here’s the recipe:

Apple Strudel
from Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers

Preparation time: 2 hours 15 minutes to 3 hours 30 minutes

2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
â…“ cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
½ cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1½ cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
½ 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 dough

1â…“ cups (200 g) unbleached flour
â…› teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
½ 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.


  • The 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.
  • A few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.
baking boys Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chipster-Topped Brownies


I like brownies. I love chocolate-chip cookies (most especially ones made from the amazing oatmeal chocolate-chip recipe on the Quaker Oats box). How could I go wrong with this week’s TWD recipe, which combines the two.

I managed.

I made these in a hurry, a couple of hours before #2 Son’s belated 12th-birthday party. He planned it himself; my only job was to provide the food, so I figured this was a perfect opportunity to make this week’s selection. (I also made one of June’s selections, but you’ll have to wait a while to hear about that.)

A lot of people mentioned having trouble spreading the cookie dough over the brownie batter. That wasn’t a problem. The batter stiffened a bit while I was making the dough, and I just used small spoonfuls of dough and smooshed them together.

Then I baked it for 45 minutes, less than the 50 to 55 called for in the recipe, and when I took it out the cookie layer was dark, maybe too dark, and had risen higher than I expected. I stuck a knife in and got just a few streaks of chocolate, just like the recipe says. So I let the brownies cool in the pan. They unmolded fine.

I trimmed off the burnt edges, and they were good. I sliced a couple of rows of bars, and except for a distressing tendency for the cookie layer to crack, all was well. But when I got to the third row brownie batter oozed out, essentially unbaked. I happen to love brownie batter, so I’m perfectly happy to eat it that way, but it felt wrong serving raw eggs to other people’s children.


They ate the edge bars, though, and they seemed quite happy with them. I got only three quotes, though; sorry about that.

Friend #1: I’ve never heard of a cookie being on top of a brownie. I thought it was really yummy!

#2 Son: They were pretty good. The brownie was delicious, but the chocolate chip cookies on top were overly salted and too crunchy and not all that good. [That didn’t stop him from scarfing them down.]

Husband: I liked the middle ones better, where the bottom of the cookie layer was still gooey. Overall, I thought they were a little too sweet.


I thought the brownies were pretty good, although too dark for me. I loved the cookies on top. But together, they just weren’t as sublime as I thought they’d be. Oh, well.


Go see what all the other TWD bloggers did with this recipe, and if you want to try it for yourself, buy Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or visit Supplicious; Beth is the blogger who chose this recipe for us this week.

baking boys bread Dorie fruit recipes

Tuesdays With Dorie: Fresh Mango Bread


I’m a sucker for quick breads, as long as they’re good; I’ve certainly had more than my share of dry, tasteless banana bread. But this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe, chosen from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Kelly of Baking with the Boys, is not dry and tasteless, not by a long shot.

Y’all know I’m not a fan of fruit (nor am I Southern!), so I diced the mango up pretty small. I didn’t want big chunks of fruit messing up my quick bread. (And it took forever, let me tell you.) I got the required 2 cups out of one mango, so either my mango was larger than most or my dice was smaller.

Being so anti-fruit, I tweaked the recipe a bit: Dorie mentions that the original version had nuts in it, and that sounded good to me. I found some dry-roasted macadamias in the fridge, a bit more than a cup, so I chopped those up and threw them in there. I also used nutmeg rather than ginger, in deference to Husband’s lack of love for the latter, and left out the lime, in deference to mine.

Other than that, it was all Dorie.

Oh, except for the King Arthur white whole-wheat flour I used in place of the all-purpose.

So after the forever it took me to cut up the mango, the batter came together quickly. It was, as the recipe cautioned, really thick, not at all like most quick breads. I baked it for about an hour and 20 minutes, and the outside is just a bit overdone — not terribly, and it doesn’t affect the taste.


I was going to save it for breakfast, as per Dorie’s recommendation that it’s better the second day, but we had a friend here helping Husband put up some shelves, and I didn’t cook an actual dinner, so I figured we could at least have the mango bread. It was still a bit warm inside when we cut it.

And it was good.

It was moist and flavorful, although I can’t say that I tasted a whole lot of mango flavor. But from my point of view, of course, that’s a good thing. I ate my slice plain, and it was delicious.

Husband: It was really good — I enjoyed it. There was just enough fruitiness and sweetness to mark it as a quick bread, but the nutmeg really made it almost a piece of a meal. Somewhat strangely, it meshed well with the Can Blau 2007 I was drinking.

#1 Son: I really liked it. The fruit was good, the nuts were perfect, and the crust had this crunchy sweetness I can only compare to the top of a blondie. It would have been better with ginger, though — damn my father’s constrained palate.

#2 Son: I liked it. It was a little crumbly, but the macadamia nuts were very good, the crust was crunchy and good, and the entire thing was good. I don’t think I’ve ever not liked something of Dorie’s [editor’s note: or anything at all, really].


We managed to save more than half the loaf for breakfast the next day, when it was still delicious. It was less crumbly, but the flavor was the same. Good.

Oh, and I’m supposed to tell you that it’s excellent with cream cheese and fruit compote, which #2 Son made by pouring a bag of Trader Joe’s frozen mixed berries into a pot with 2 tablespoons of honey, then cooking on low till the berries were soft. Then he mashed them with a potato masher and cranked up the heat to medium to cook off some moisture.


So really, you should give this one a try. It’s yummy. And if you ignore the sugar and oil, you can persuade yourself that it’s healthy! Kelly will have the recipe at Baking with the Boys (or you could buy the book!), and the hundreds of other TWD bakers will all have their own little tweaks on it. Bon appetit!

baking boys Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Tartest Lemon Tart


Again with the fruit. I was so not looking forward to this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe, chosen for us by Babette of Babette Feasts. Not only do I not like fruit as fruit, I particularly don’t like citrus fruit, even the flavor.

But you know what? I actually liked this, the only member of my family who did.

As seems to have become a bad habit, #1 Son made the tart. (Am I going to get kicked out of TWD if I don’t start baking again soon? I hope not. I’ve been on one deadline or another for weeks, and I’m just too fried to think, let alone bake. I’m still writing, though! Sometimes.)

So first he made the crust, using the new food processor blade that had just come in the mail and hadn’t yet been washed. I’m going to choose to believe that it wasn’t made in China and that there were no weird chemicals coating it, and that we’re not all going to die. He doesn’t like making crusts, but Dorie’s are at least easy to handle.

Then he made the filling, exactly as the instructions instructed. I noticed in the P&Q on the TWD site that several people had problems with bitterness from the pith of the lemon, and others recommended cutting off the ends of the lemons to mitigate that. But I read that this morning, so he didn’t do it.

My only part in this whole endeavor (besides grocery shopping and teaching the ungrateful child to cook in the first place) was taking the tart out of the oven, which I did when it looked as described in the recipe. Unfortunately, by this time the crust was a bit, shall we say, Cajun.

And then #1 Son added his own little touch: orange whipped cream, made by adding a bit of orange juice and vanilla to Dorie’s whipped cream recipe.

And then we had it, after dinner on Friday night. It was room temperature, and a little puddingy, and I liked it. It was a bit tart, but not horribly, and the lemon was actually nice. (For context, I don’t even like lemonade or lemon water ice. Everyone likes lemonade and lemon water ice.)

But the men of the house, all of whom love lemon, were unanimous:

Husband: I wasn’t fond of the orange whipped cream. The crust had some sort of weird metallic taste to it, and the lemon tasted burnt, as if someone had scorched a lemon and then forced me to eat it.

#1 Son: I thought the lemon was almost bitter — it had almost no depth of flavor. And the crust baked for too long, which was partially my fault and partly the recipe’s fault — it said to cook it till the lemon looked a certain way, but that was too long for the crust. Just overall, not what I wanted or expected. The orange whipped cream blended texture, flavor and presentation into a touch of genius.

#2 Son: I found the crust not horrible. The lemon was weird — Dad’s right about the burnt taste. But I really liked the orange whipped cream.

So what do I know?


We ate it again cold, two days later. It fared a bit better this time:

Husband: The lemon flavor mellowed, but still tasted scorched to me. And the whipped cream tasted even more like a creamsicle. I hate creamsicles.

#1 Son: Some of the graininess went away — it was much smoother cold. The whipped cream thickened beautifully. And while the crust is still overdone, it doesn’t bother me as much cold. I think some moisture got into it and made it softer.

#2 Son: The whipped cream is more like a creamsicle now and I definitely like the lemon taste more, but the crust is still burnt.

I liked it even more cold. I won’t make it again, since chocolate always beats fruit in my book and the men didn’t like it, but I did think it was pretty good.

Go see what hundreds of other bakers did with this, and if their families liked it better than mine did. And if you want to try it yourself, Babette will have the recipe on her blog for you.

Next week (maybe!): Fresh Mango Bread!


Tuesdays With Dorie: Tiramisu Cake (But Not for Us!)

Not only did I forget to make the delicious-sounding TWD recipe this week, but I forgot to post that I forgot to make it. (Sorry — things have been insane around here all week.) Please go see what all the other TWDers made!