Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Apple Strudel

This is the favorite bread creation of many of my friends. Technically, it is probably not a strudel, since it is made of bread dough rather than pastry. But to-date, no one has cared. I serve the glaze on the side, allowing each person to decorate their own slice to their liking.

I was in a hurry and my photos leave much to be desired. This strudel did not last past lunch time at work this morning, even though it shared a table with a number of excellent breakfast items and sweets. It looks prettier with the icing on top.

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Dough Ingredients:
1 1/8 cup
3 Tbs
2 Tbs
dry milk
1 tsp
3 cup (15 oz)
all-purpose flour
3 1/2 Tbs
1 tsp
malt powder (optional)
1/8 tsp
ascorbic acid (optional)
2 tsp
2 tsp
yeast, fast rise

1 Tbs
yeast, active dry

Filling Ingredients:
1/4 cup
butter, melted
3/4 cup
apple pie filling, canned or homemade
1/2 cup
1 Tbs

1 egg
1 Tbsp water
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

powdered sugar
100% pure Maple Syrup, optional


I make the dough in the bread machine. I tested the recipe a few days ago to make sure it needed no adjustments in water to flour ratio. My family enjoyed that strudel, and allowed me to take the next one to work. I made the dough for this one on "timer" so it would be ready when I got home from work.

Dump the finished dough out and roll it into a 10" x 14" rectangle. My preference is to use a silicone Roul 'Pat mat and a silicone rolling pin, and I use no "bench flour". I have a thinner mat too, but this one stays put on the counter top better. As a second choice, I would roll directly on a clean counter top or board, using only as much flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the counter.

Check your oven to make sure the stones and racks are properly arranged, and turn it on (350°).

Next, transfer the dough to a parchment sheet. Feather the edges of the dough in roughly 1" strips, using a dough knife. Using bread-dough math, a 14" long sheet can be cut into seven 1" feathers, plus two ends. The gluten must be shrinking the feathers as it is cut. I generally don't measure it anyway.

Spread the not-too-hot melted butter on the dough with a pastry brush, coating the center and the feathers, while leaving the ends butter-free. Pour the remaining butter in the uncut center, and even it out.

Pour the cinnamon-sugar mixture onto the pool of butter. Smooth it out with the back of a spoon, so that it covers the uncut part of the dough. Doing the butter and cinnamon-sugar this way gives a nice cinnamon syrupy layer under the apples, and avoids having the sugar draw too much juice out of the apple filling.

Spread the apple filling over the cinnamon. Dip your fingertips into some water, and wet the ends (not the feathers) of the dough. Fold up the ends and pinch together, working it until it really sticks together well. This one still had a "blow out" on the end during baking.

Fold the feathers over each other, gently pulling as needed to stretch them across the loaf.

Spray the top with cooking spray.

Cover with plastic wrap; make sure the wrap is laid out flat, so the rising dough will not get trapped by it on the sides.

Let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size. My usual spot is on the cook top, which is over the oven. I actually have to make sure it doesn't get too hot there, since there is a vent in one of the burners. One of the "feathers" is already escaping, sliding down the side. I scooted it back up, and got egg on it in the next step, but in the end, it still escaped.

Mix an egg with about a tablespoon of water, and chop some raw pecans.

Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash, and sprinkle with pecans. I coated it with egg twice to make sure the pecans would stick. Egg is "food glue," and it also makes bread shiny on top. Use a paper towel to wipe up any excess that gets on the parchment, or just crack it off after it is baked.

Oh, what a wonderful smell, fresh bread and cinnamon... About twenty minutes was enough. With this loaf, the temperature probe doesn't really work, because it would just get the tip stuck in the filling and give a bad reading. For done-ness on this loaf, I go by smell, sight, and touch. If it smells like heavenly bread and toasty pecans, looks browned and bubbly where the apple has broken free, and feels "set" when you tap/touch it, pull it on out.

Yes, once again an end opened up, but at least one end stayed closed. I'll try again sometime, and write an update if I find the way to keep it closed. But my co-workers didn't bat an eye, and it was happily eaten completely. Actually, imperfections are evidence that it is home-made, so I'm not too worried about it.

For the icing, pour about two cups of confectioner sugar into a bowl. Melt a tablespoon of butter. Pour a tablespoon of milk and the butter into the sugar, and stir it in. Add about 1/4 tsp of vanilla and a tablespoon of 100% maple syrup (optional; grade B has the most flavor; I wouldn't use pancake syrup). Taste it, add milk until it pours off of a spoon in a nice drizzle, and add more butter, vanilla, and/or maple to taste.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Apple Pie Filling

I'm making an apple strudel this week, and I've always just used canned apple pie filling. The apple crisp was so easy to make, I was inspired to make my own strudel filling. It turned out really well. I'll let you know how the strudel turns out, and get a photo.

I added some cinnamon and sugar to the leftover filling, warmed it up, and it was really good, better than the cinnamon apple side dish you get at restaurants.

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Here's how I made the filling:

Apple Pie Filling Recipe

5 Tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 cup lt brown sugar
8 apples, various kinds*
juice of 1 lemon
3 Tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix flour and brown sugar in a small bowl, and set aside.

Juice the lemon in a small bowl.

Peel and slice apples. A spiral peeler/slicer works well; cut rings into thirds. Put sliced apples into a large bowl, sprinkling with lemon juice and stirring as you go, to reduce browning.

Stir in remaining lemon juice, and all of the syrup. Sprinkle flour and sugar mixture on top, and stir until evenly coated. Spread apple mixture into a 9 x 11 glass casserole, packing down lightly.

Bake for 45 min at 350°, remove from oven, and stir. Cover snugly with aluminum foil, poke 3 - 4 holes in the foil, and bake an additional 15 min. Apples are done when the juices are bubbly and thickened. Allow to cool, covered, for another 15 - 30 minutes, then uncover and stir.

*Some good eating apples are not as good for baking. I used 2 Granny Smith, 2 McIntosh, 2 Golden Delicious, and 2 Jon-A-Gold. Next time I'm going to try some Rome apples.

I bought my apples too far in advance, and some of them were a little soft. They tasted fine, but were much harder to peel.

I may try baking them with the foil on for the whole time next time. I put it on when I discovered that the apples were really dry on top. On the other hand, that may have helped them thicken.

I put the sugar on last, then immediately to the oven, so they wouldn't juice up too much before baking.

These taste better than the baked apples I've had at some "Roadhouse" type restaurants. To eat straight, I might add a little more sugar and a touch of cinnamon. I left them plain because the strudel calls for cinnamon anyway.