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.

Find the most current and print-friendly version here.

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.

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