Chocolate and Walnut Strudel – Daring Bakers
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.
In my mid teens I escaped the boring farm life and headed to the big city for the Xmas holidays. My uncle had given me a job wrapping presents in his bustling Bondi Beach gift shop, how exciting for a small-town girl. One evening my uncle asked whether I liked Schnitzel. Now, you know I had had schnitzel before, but only the pre-prepared revoltingly dry chicken variety, not the hanging off the edge of the plate tender veal kind, with creamed spinach and sauerkraut. This was obviously a problem that needed immediate rectification, so after the shop closed we wandered around the corner to the Gelato Bar and sat under the stars on a beautiful summer night and eating schnitzel. I’m sure it was pretty decent, but I had eyes only for the strudel.
The Gelato Bar is a funny place. I’ve never had gelato here but you can get Matzo ball soup, if you’re willing to put up with backpacker service and high prices. But strudel is the reason to come here. Thick slices of hefty strudel, the pastry crisp and flaky, layered with nuts and dusted with a generous amount of icing sugar. But for me, the pastry in strudel was always secondary to the filling. Gelato bar sells dense, rich poppyseed, sweet and smooth walnut, sour cherry and lemon zest spiked cheese, and chocolate with hazelnut. The last two are my favourites, and I buy them pretty much any time I ever go to Bondi (the outlet at Bondi Junction often sells the strudel for half price on weekday afternoons, a steal!)
Honestly, I knew that I could not reproduce my Gelato Bar favourites for this Daring Bakers challenge, but I gave it a try regardless. I make cherry and cheese (delish!), vanilla poached pear with semolina cream, and chocolate with walnut. They were ok, with the bitter sweet chocolate and nut version winning by far, but I can’t help but feel that there was something wrong with the pastry, it seemed tasteless and quick to get soft. I don’t know if it was just me, and my technique or the the recipe but it just wasn’t a winner for me. Whatever, though – this challenge was fun, but now I am dying to go back to bondi for a big slice of cherry and cheese.
(recipe via Daring Bakers website, from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers)
I made this recipe twice, the first time it was really wet, because I used Australian Tablespoons (20mL) – when the recipe was in fact using some other measure. I have removed this from the recipe so that most measurements are by weight.
1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
105 ml water, plus more if needed
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.
150g Chopped walnuts
4T raw sugar
200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped.
Mix all ingredients together and fill pastry as desired. This amount can also be halved for a less rich version.