Thursday, May 28, 2009

May Daring Bakers "Apple Strudel" ALMOST.....

Here we are and another month has gone by and this means that it is time for the Daring Bakers monthly baking challenge. 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. They chose to make a Apple Strudel which I have NEVER made. I was excited about this challenge and of course left it to the last minute as usual!

The family and myself went to look for trees last weekend and visited one of my favorite markets/nurseries. I picked up about 8 pounds of granny smith apple anticipating this challenge. I got all the other ingredients that I was missing while we were out too! I was so excited to start this recipe!

I began by making the filling part of the strudel. I mixed up the rum and raisins and then mixed the cinnamon/sugar. I then started adding the ingredients to my Kitchen Aid to prepare the dough, I got that going and then I made the breadcrumbs on the stove and then decided to preheat the oven AFTER I had already peeled and cored A LOT of apples. I SUDDENLY SMELLED SOMETHING BAD.....GAS, gas from my GAS oven! I immediately turned it off and called Best Buy for a service man to come out. So, I didn't get to even finish my strudel. I plan on finishing it when my part, an ignitor comes in for the oven. Yeah, I am glad I didn't have an explosion! Here is the recipe:

Preparation Time
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes
15-20 min to make dough
30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough
10 min to fill and roll dough
30 min to bake
30 min to cool

Apple Strudel
From “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
2 tablespoons golden rum
3 tablespoons raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds 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. 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 from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-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
From “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
1 1/3 cups unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons 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 round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches. 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 wide and 3 feet 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.

Tips- 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 polyester;- 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;- Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.
Both Courtney and I did a trial run on making the strudel. Below are our notes:
Courtney's notes- She couldn't get it to stretch to 2 feet by 3 feet, it turned out more like 2 feet by 2 feet. But the dough was tissue thin nevertheless;- She got some serious holes, but after rolling it wasn't noticeable;- She used a large cheese cloth which helped manipulate and stretch the dough more than a heavier cloth would have.
My notes- I made the dough by hand, just mixed the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Kneaded it for about 5 min like you would bread dough. This worked as well. Haven't tried using a stand mixer so I don't know how it compares.- Instead of cider vinegar I used red wine vinegar;- I used bread flour;- Picking up the dough to let it stretch didn't work well for me, holes appeared pretty much instantly. Instead I stretched the dough while it was lying on the tablecloth by putting my hands underneath and stretching it out further and further;

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Big Boy's Strawberry Pie (BUT BETTER)

This recipe is so easy but people will think that you spent the entire afternoon making it!! If you've ever been to Big Boy and had their Strawberry Pie, this is very similar, ONLY WAY BETTER!!!

First you start by taking off the tops of the berries and slicing them
Then layer into a graham cracker pie shell
Until it is stacked way HIGH!
Add 1 1/2 C. Water
2 Tbls. Cornstarch
2 Tbls. Sugar to a pot and cook until thickened
and clear, then remove from heat
Now add 2 Tbls. Lemon Juice
1 pkg (3 ounces) Strawberry Jello
Stir together and allow to cool a little
Pour cooled Jello mixture over strawberries and
put in refrigerator for a couple of hours prior to eating!
Top with Cool-Whip if desired!


Friday, May 15, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie

With Strawberry and Rhubarb season coming up quickly, I thought that I would repost this recipe that I made last year around this same time frame! Enjoy and let me know if you make it! I have a Rhubarb Custart recipe coming from my cousin, Sandy, so watch for that!
Ever since I was a very small child, I have been intrigued by the taste of Rhubarb. My grandmother grew it in her backyard and every spring we would always break pieces off and laugh as the sour taste made us have what seemed like lock jaw. We never made anything fancy with it, just ate it raw (from what I can remember). So, when grandma sold her home a few years back, I inherited half of the plants for my home. Last year I found a Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp recipe that I thought wasn't worthy of my "heirloom" Rhubarb. I have been on a mission to find that perfect recipe and this Crumb Pie was given the thumbs up by everyone that was given given the privilege to have a piece. (Arrogant, huh? Yeah, we are talking about my precious rhubarb!) My brother-in-law actually hinted that he would like to see another full pie like that again soon! This recipe is very simple to make and everyone that is privileged enough to have a piece or your pie will think that you have slaved away for hours! Without further ado, here is the recipe that I found in my new recipe book, "Pie" by Ken Haedrich and tweaked a little by moi!

Skillet Crust:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a medium size bowl. Set aside. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium to low heat. Stir in the vanilla. Add the dry mixture and turn off the heat. Stir the flour and butter with a whisk (it worked GREAT). It will be a little clumpy, but just keep working it. Set the crumbs aside to cool for several minutes. When the crumbs are cool enough to handle, transfer about 2/3 of them to a buttered 9 1/2 inch deep-dish pie pan. Press them into the bottom and up the side of the pan.

4 cups (1 1/2 pounds) fresh rhubarb sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 cups sliced strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
Juice & Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (if you have it, if not it is alright.)
In a large bowl, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, lemon juice & zest, flour and cardamom. Set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Turn the filling into the pie shell, smoothing the top with a spoon. Crumble the reserved crust mixture evenly over the pie, pressing down on it gently. Place the pie in the center of the oven rack and bake for 30 minutes @ 350 degrees. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and rotate the pie 180 degrees. Just in case of spills, slide a foil lined baking sheet below the pie to avoid a huge mess. Continue to bake until the top is golden brown and the juices bubble thickly around the edges, 40 to 50 minutes. If the top starts to get too dark, cover with loosely tented foil during the last 15 minutes. LET COOL FOR AT LEAST 2 HOURS BEFORE SERVING, while cooling the pie will thicken.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pita Bread & Hummus

My kids love HUMMUS! I don't know where they get it from, but since it is a great source of protein for them, I buy it in bulk at Costco and Sam's Club. Both my husband and I grew up in the boon-docks and had no idea that all this Middle Eastern food even existed, but we both also enjoy it.

I went to a Middle Eastern Market last week with a friend of mine who makes her own Hummus. She showed me what I needed to make my own and I quickly snatched up the ingredients so that I could try to make a batch myself.

Today was the day that I finally found some time and felt lazy enough to stay at home to make my hummus. I got my food processor out and added the ingredients into it:

1 can chickpeas
1/3 C. FRESH Tahini
1/2-3/4 C. FRESH squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
4 Garlic Cloves
1/2 C. Canola Oil
1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Cumin

In just a couple of minutes, I had my own hummus. I spooned it into a bowl and this sprinkled it with Paprika and into the fridge it went. Now, I wanted to try to recreate LaShish Pita's and found a pretty good recipe to follow on Recipezaar for Arabian Pita Bread.

3 cups flour
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
6 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
Mix yeast, water and sugar.
Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, dried milk and salt.
Pour oil into water and mix well. Add dry mixture to liquids.
You might need to add more flour or water, depending on the absorbency of the flour.

Knead dough briefly, divide into 18 egg sized balls.
Place on a floured surface, cover and let rest for 15-30 minutes.
After the 30 minutes, I took parchment paper and cut it into small squares. I then put one ball onto each parchment square and covered with an additional square of paper. After covering the ball with paper, I rolled the ball flat, removed the top layer of paper and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I used a preheated 475 degree oven with my cooking stones inside the oven while preheating. I slid about 4-5 uncooked pitas onto the stone and cooked for 3 minutes on each side of the pita.I quickly removed them from the oven and placed onto a cooking sheet. I served the fresh pita with the fresh hummus and it was yummy!My oldest son will be home by the time the hummus is cooled in the fridge, so he will be very happy this afternoon!