What’s going on here? Two posts in a week? Hot damn.
It’s summer, I’ve got time, and I really wanted to write this one before forgetting how it went… again. Strudel time!
This bake was a combo platter. I saw this recipe for a peach brie Strudel over at Dirndl Kitchen’s blog, and thought it sounded delicious. I’m a huge fan of anything that combines cheese and fruit, and since I’ve been tripping over peaches at all the markets I thought it’d be the perfect choice for my next bake.
In her recipe, she opts to use pre-made puff pastry, which is definitely a great option if you’re short on time. But since I had a free Sunday and it was raining, I thought I’d be a bit more ambitious. I hadn’t yet tried any of the Strudel featured in Classic German Baking and thought the time was ripe. As were the peaches. Heyo!
There are a few different Strudel featured in the book, but they all use the exact same ingredients and method for the pastry portion. I flipped to the Apfelstrudel recipe and gathered my ingredients. After tossing them together, I got kneading.
It was… a struggle. The dough was incredibly firm, and tough to knead. The recipe states that you should have a smooth and elastic ball after about 10 minutes kneading, and mine was… yeah, still firm. I gave it a few more minutes, and decided I’d let it rest as instructed and see what happened.
Post-resting time, it felt deceptively softer when I poked at it, but that was just the surface. Inside it remained far too firm, and I worked up a sweat trying my damnedest to roll it out as instructed. After a valiant effort, I gave it up, tossed it into the bio waste in frustration, and got the mixing bowl back out.
The second attempt also wound up in the bio waste. It started off feeling a bit better when I began kneading, but was still pretty dry. I thought, ‘let’s just give this a quick squirt of water from the tap’ and that was a TERRIBLE TERRIBLE IDEA. A few drops probably would’ve done it, but instead I got a splotchy, sticky gob of mess.
Third try. IT’S ONLY FOUR INGREDIENTS THIS SHOULDN’T BE THAT HARD. Turns out, the key is to add the water slowly, as directed in the book. I thought I had added it slowly the first time, but clearly not slowly enough. Dribble, knead knead, dribble, knead knead, repeat. That worked. This ball of dough was stretchy, smooth, and had not a hint of blotch.
Resting time up, I stretched my arms for another crack at rolling it out. Strudel dough should be almost impossibly thin, giving me flashbacks to my great-grandmother’s insistence that Norwegian Lefse should be toilet paper thin when rolled out. HOW? I don’t know.
I even got out a measuring tape because, according to the recipe, my dough should be the size of the towel. It wasn’t. It matched the see-through requirement though, so when tearing became impossible to avoid, I called it a win.
Finally it was time to gather the filling ingredients. I was a bit confused by how big this whole thing was getting, but I followed the directions as best as I could. I suppose when you buy Strudel at the bakery, typically you’re only getting a few pieces, and it’s easy to forget how massive these get. For reference, please enjoy this ancient photo of my friend Katie and I ogling this giant Strudel in Prague.
I layered the fruit mixture on top of the cheese and gathered my strength to try and fold this monstrosity together. Using the towel to flip it was key, but there was no stopping the tearing. Trying to patch it up was pretty futile, so into the oven with tears it went. No points for aesthetics today, but man did it smell good in the kitchen!
It looks light in the pictures but the pastry itself was surprisingly firm when the baking time was up. I think it could have done with just a few more minutes as the pastry on the bottom was a bit soft, but I also think it would’ve helped if I could have rolled it over once more before baking. But I couldn’t so… oh well. A river of sweet peachy goodness was flooding out, and my fork was in that pretty much immediately.
We gave it 20 minutes or so to cool off, but due to the first pastry disasters, coffee and cake time had already been delayed enough. We dove in right away, because who cares that you still have to eat dinner? Not me, my friends.
For me, I think I’d give it a bit more cinnamon next time, but the peaches and brie are really just always a winning combo. The brie we bought was fairly mild, and I think I’ll look for a stronger one next time as well. The rum taste comes through nicely, with the nuts giving everything a good extra crunch factor.
Overall I’m pretty pleased with the way this first Strudel came out. I’ve been wanting to get out of the cakes and savories and try some of the trickier things in Classic German Baking, but there hasn’t been much baking lately in this heat. When it cools off, I might even get crazy and try some rolls.
Have you made a Strudel? Got any tips to share?