baking boys Daring Bakers meat recipes

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.
bread holidays meat

An Irish-ish Meal


I promised this post on Tuesday night, but better late than never, I suppose.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we ate Irish (or a facsimile thereof): Irish stew and soda bread (and Guinness for the oldest two male members of the household). Husband couldn’t find lamb in the city or over here, so we wound up with beef for the stew, and I discovered at the last minute that I was out of King Arthur’s white whole-wheat flour and that neither of the supermarkets within two miles of my house carry it.

So beef stew and white soda bread it was.

I used a stew recipe I found on AllRecipes, although I made some modifications; I try a new recipe every time I make Irish stew, and this one had Guinness in it; I thought the boys would appreciate that. I dredged the beef (2½ pounds, rather than the recipe’s 1) in salted and garlicked flour, then browned it in my beautiful new 12-inch skillet (thank you, Freecycle!), then threw it in the crockpot.

Softened an onion and garlic and some celery — I did say it was Irish-ish — and threw that into the crockpot too.

Then broth and beer and a couple of bay leaves and oregano, but no tomato paste or mushrooms. They’re not Irish at all. (I have malleable standards.)

Cooked it for hours, four or so, then added the cornstarch to thicken. And some salt.



The soda bread recipe came from Gourmet. Real Irish soda bread is whole-wheat, but as mentioned above, not this year. Everyone seemed happy with it, though, and #2 Son has been eating the leftovers for two days now.

So that was our St. Patrick’s Day. What did you do?


boys meat

Better Late Than Never: Bacon Explosion

#1 Son found this recipe on the Internet, and he was immediately consumed with the need to make it. Right then. Luckily for me (and the family’s cardiovascular systems), it was two days before Superbowl Sunday. I managed to delay him by telling him what a marvelous contribution the Bacon Explosion would be to the Superbowl party we were going to attend.


I asked him to write this post, because he is a much better writer than I’ll ever be. It’s been three weeks, but here, at last, without further ado, I present to you: the Bacon Explosion, as written by #1 Son, with my comments in square brackets:


This. This is how cults are formed, when men create objects so perfect, so beautiful that they can only have come from the divine. Welcome your new god. Welcome the Bacon Explosion.

My recipe deviated from the initial incarnation of the One True Bacon Explosion, I’m afraid. As I had neither barbecue rub nor barbecue sauce, I substituted some City Tavern Herb Rub (excellent, highly recommended [salt, onion, garlic powder, white pepper, cayenne pepper, Hungarian sweet paprika, thyme, oregano, marjoram, sweet basil, sage]) and Peter Luger steak sauce, which I could happily drink from the bottle (really.)

The first step in ushering in the Age of Bacon is to weave the sacred meat together. Who would have thought religious devotion would be so much fun?


The weave was spread with the herb rub and topped with two pounds of Italian sausage, helpfully decased by the Acolyte [otherwise known as #2 Son] here.


That was further topped by the absolute maximum amount of bacon I could fit on my stove, which I realize now is wholly inadequate [the stove, he means].


After another layer of herb rub and a layer of steak sauce, the Assembly began. This unworthy one rolled the sausage mixture together first into a tight roll, then back the other way with the bacon weave.




Two and a half hours later, a tear came to this one’s eyes as he beheld his creation. He fell to his knees and prayed for salvation. The Bacon Explosion did not disappoint him. Two slices, a thousand calories and a Steelers win later, all was right with the world.



bread food Friday dinner meat recipes

Bicultural Friday Dinner

I had some lamb cubes in the freezer — grass-fed, organic, local lamb, straight from the farmers market. What to do with lamb cubes? Around here, there’s really only one answer. Irish stew:


I started with the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated‘s The New Best Recipe, #1 Son’s bible. We gave it to him after his bar mitzvah in 1995, and almost four years later it’s still his go-to cookbook for just about everything. (He made a cheesecake yesterday to take to a gathering of teenage homeschoolers today; he used it for a class on the science of cooking.) But the CI recipe called for shoulder chops, and I, of course, had the aforementioned cubes. So I played around with the proportions, but the technique is basically theirs.

Irish Stew (adapted from The New Best Recipe)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound lamb cubes, cut into whatever size you like
2 medium onions, chopped into whatever size you like
a little less than 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
2 cups of water, divided
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
3 medium potatoes (the book recommends Yukon Golds, but you can also use reds)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle the lamb cubes with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and brown half the lamb on all sides. Remove to a bowl. Add another tablespoon of oil and brown the other half of the lamb on all sides. Remove to the bowl. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the last tablespoon of oil, and cook the onions till they’re softened, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir till the onions are coated evenly. Add one cup of water and stir, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the thyme and the salt. Gradually add the other cup of water and continue to stir until the stew begins to simmer. Put the meat back in and bring the stew back to a simmer. Put the stew in a Dutch oven or covered baking dish and bake for one hour. Remove from the oven, add the potatoes to the top of the stew, re-cover, and bake for another hour or so, until the meat is tender. Stir the potatoes into the stew, let it stand for a few minutes (it’s really, really hot), and enjoy.

And if you’re having Irish stew, you must also have Irish soda bread. Again I turned to The New Best Recipe, and again it didn’t let me down.


Irish Soda Bread (adapted from The New Best Recipe)

3 cups (15 ounces) lower-protein (read, not King Arthur) all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) plain cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons cream of tartar
1½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter for the crust
1½ cups buttermilk

Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat the over to 400 degrees. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Work the butter into the dry ingredients (with a fork or your fingers) till the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk and stir with a fork just till the dough begins to come together. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead just till the dough is cohesive enough that you can form it into a loaf. The less you mess with it, the better. Pat the dough into a round about 6 inches across and 2 inches high; place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. I used a round stoneware pan. Use a serrated knife to cut a cross shape in the top of the dough; each cut should be 5 inches long and ¾ of an inch deep. Bake till the loaf is golden brown and skewer inserted into the center comes out clean (or the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees), about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter. Cool to room temperature before cutting.

I’m not really a big fan of soda bread, but Husband loves it, so I make it several times a year. This is the best recipe I’ve tried — I actually liked the bread. If you like soda bread, you’ll love it.

And for a change, dessert wasn’t a Dorie recipe. (This week it’s pumpkin muffins, and we’re having them for breakfast tomorrow!) #2 Son goes to a secular Jewish Sunday school (and #1 Son works there), where they learn all about the history and culture and traditions of Judaism. And apparently one of those traditions is celebrating the harvest festival of Sukkot by building model sukkahs out of graham crackers, pretzels, and frosting. When they did this at Sunday school they used that nasty frosting in a tub. But I don’t roll that way. So …

This afternoon I bought graham crackers, spice wafers, three different pretzel shapes, a couple of different kinds of candy corn, mini M&Ms, big marhsmallows, mini-marshmallows, and probably some other stuff I’ve forgotten. Then I made vanilla buttercream icing, chocolate buttercream icing, and royal icing (for architectural purposes). After dinner, the boys went at it.

#1 Son went with a traditional sukkah, complete with autumn leaves scattered on the ground:


#2 Son, the someday architect, went for something a bit more modern (and a bit less stable):


bread Friday dinner meat

Just Like Friday, but on Saturday!

#1 Son went to a concert last night with a friend, so we shifted Friday dinner to Saturday. Because one consequence of the concert was that the friend had to take a train at 8 this morning, and I had to deliver him to the station, #1 Son and I hit the farmers market early, around 8:30. He’s not usually with me, so he leapt at the opportunity to choose the week’s meat. He went with ground lamb, ground pork, and the old standby, ground beef. We bought a pound of each, then cut the pounds in half. That left me with a pound and a half of a yummy meat mush, which I turned into burgers.

I know I promised that I’d start including recipes here, but I don’t think this counts: I put half a pound of ground beef, ground lamb, and ground pork (all free-range organic, as befits farmers market fare) into a bowl. I sprinkled it with garlic powder, dried thyme leaves, and kosher flake salt. I mixed it together, as little as possible. Then I split it into four 4-ounce burgers (saving the rest for a meal later in the week!) and grilled them on my little panini press. Wait! If I make it look like a recipe, then it must be one!

Mixed Meat Burgers (makes 6)

  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground lamb
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • kosher flake salt (to taste)
  • dried thyme leaves (to taste)
  • garlic powder (to taste)

Put all meat into large bowl and sprinkle with salt, thyme, and garlic powder. Mix to combine, handling the meat as little as possible.

Divide into six 4-ounce patties. Grill indoors or out. Put on toasted homemade rolls.

Oh, did I forget to mention the rolls?

It was Friday/Saturday dinner, so there had to be bread. I made Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Best Buns, so I can’t take credit for that recipe. There was also farmers market corn on the cob, which was absolutely perfect. It’s all downhill from here.


Husband spruced his up a bit:

stacked burger

And the corn:


Dessert was, of course, Dorie’s Granola Grabbers. More on that Tuesday!