Monday, June 1, 2009

The Daring Bakers! (cont.)

It has occurred to me that I should elaborate on the Daring Bakers and the fact that I have joined them. This evening has been about trying to make things sweeter and lighter so here we are. I joined this group because they give you a challenge to make something every month and I love that idea so much. There are guidelines but also room for creativity. I do realize much to the humor of my friends that yes I already have too many projects, but you never know people. There is absolutely no reason why I can't be a baking, tango dancing, keyboard playing, world traveling, law student that will make her Grandma proud one of these days and buy a proper home. Geez. Who says I can't?

The Daring Bakers dared me to make an apple strudel, although really you had to make the dough, and could fill it with whatever you want.

The dough was really interesting because there was a bunch of stretching involved and you had to be careful not to tear it. Stretching the dough was a cathartic experience for me. It made me focus. It brought me right into the kitchen and right into one project that had my full attention. My current living circumstances and choices weren't in my kitchen at all. It was just me and the dough. I love to try new things and I am certain that I wouldn't have made this if it hadn't been for the Daring Bakers. I like strudel but I don't think it was on my list really. I'm glad that it turned out well and I do intend to do another soon.

I filled this one with rhubarb, apricot, and cranberries that were boiled together with one third cup sugar and a few splashes of rum. I put chopped pecans and cinnamon on the dough first before the fruit mixture and then rolled it. I made the mistake of spreading the fruit a bit rather than making one long strip, but amazingly it worked out well. I see a zucchini and yellow squash strudel in the future. Maybe with cheese...

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caf├ęs of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 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.

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