Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May Daring Bakers-- Apple Strudel

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.

I loved this month's challenge! I not only loved making it (it truly was a breeze), but I loved eating it, too! I can't figure out why I loved it-- I don't even like apples! But I couldn't not try the finished product. What a surprise! I skipped the raisins and the rum since I also don't like raisins (seriously, have you ever met anyone pickier?). The texture was amazing. The pastry was amazing. The sweetness mixed with the tartness of the Granny Smith apples was amazing. The golden color was amazing. The entire thing was amazing!

I didn't have a single problem with this recipe. I loved the ease of the dough (mine sat for longer than 90 minutes... I got sidetracked!) and I improvised by using a sheet instead of a table cloth. I didn't use Gloria (aka, my Kitchen Aid mixer) and instead just kneaded by hand. It was a simple dough to knead; no tired muscles! I was amazed at how thin that dough was able to go without tearing. I loved the surprise of the toasted breadcrumbs in the strudel. I'm not sure what their purpose was, but it added a nice texture with the flaky pastry. (LOVED the pastry-- I can hardly wait to make it again!). I didn't shape mine into a horseshoe shape because that reminded me of a Kielbasa or Ring Bologna or something! So I went with a plain old, boring loaf shape.

I'll have to try another flavor next time. Rhubarb? Cherry? Strawberry? Cinnamon? The only thing missing was some yummy whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to go along with the strudel. Or even a piece of cheddar cheese! (Is my family the only family that grew up eating a big chunk of cheese on their apple pie? It is quite weird, now that I think about it...)

Here is the fabulous 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 1/4 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.

Be sure to check out The Daring Bakers Blogroll to see creations by other members!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jello Melons

I'm not sure what to call these... Jello Melons? Jellons? Mellos? Whatever you decide, they still will be a refreshing summer treat! All you have to do is halve a melon, scoop out the seeds and fill the empty cavity with Jello. Refrigerate as directed on the Jello box to set. You will be left with a clean cut when you slice your melons!

I mixed up strawberry Jello and filled these honeydew melons. Both of my kiddos loved it! I'm sure you could come up with a fantastic flavor combination.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Edible Fruit Centerpiece

My friend, Janean, recently made an edible centerpiece like this one, so I decided to make one for Mother's Day. It's very similar to the Fruit Kabobs, but these have a cute flower made by using a cookie cutter and a melon baller.

I usually stuff my kabob sticks into a halved head of cabbage that is tucked inside of a serving bowl or container of some type, but this time I thought I would try using a halved melon (since I already had the melon for the kabobs). I don't recommend trying that! It was stinky! Raw cabbage doesn't have an odor after it's been halved, like the melon does. I ended up taking the melon dome out and using some lemons I had on hand as my kabob holder. Next time, I'll stick with the cabbage!

When making the flowers, all you have to do is thinly slice the pineapple (you don't even have to cut the outer skin away) and use a cookie cutter to slice your flower shape. Use a melon baller to make the inside of the flower and skew them both on the same skewer.

The other fruits were just wedged and skewed. One thing I did do was to skew grapes underneath all of the fruits. They seem to grab the wooden skewer and hold the heavier fruits up. They also hide the look of a bunch of sticks coming out of the centerpiece.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Poppy Seed Cake

Now here is an interesting recipe. My good friend Angela was on a quest to make her husband's favorite cake for his birthday. It's one of those family recipes that not many other people have heard of-- so of course my interest was peeked when she mentioned it. She has only attempted to make this cake on one other occasion; years ago when she was 20 years old and newly married (remember that honeymoon period where you'll do anything to please your spouse?). Unfortunately, the cake did not turn out for her and her husband wouldn't even eat it (I guess he never entered that honeymoon period).

We decided to bake the cake together during one of our traditional "Friday Teas". I was surprised by the results. I'm not a fan of poppy seeds at all, but once I got beyond the texture issue of the seeds in a cake, it was pretty good. The "filling" layer was wonderful and I actually even liked the frosting, even though I usually do anything I can to avoid baking with vegetable shortening.

Cake Ingredients:

1/2 cup Poppy seeds (we only used 1/4 cup and it was plenty!)
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
5 egg whites

Cake Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° and grease and flour a 9x13 cake pan

1. Mix poppy seeds and buttermilk in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Cream sugar and shortening together. Add poppy seed mixture.

3. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and salt; mix well.

4. Fold in the egg whites (this part confused me because the recipe does not say to beat the egg whites, so I'm not sure why they need to be folded in. We even called the original recipe owner and she said they do not need to be beaten. I may make this again and beat the egg whites before hand and see what happens).

5. Bake cake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick cake tester is clean.

Filling and Topping:

This filling could be used between layers if you use cake rounds, but since we used a 9x13, it was between the cake and frosting. It was quite a combination to be mixed with the frosting so if you make a layered cake, I would suggest doubling the filling so that you still can have some under the frosting as well.

5 egg yolks
1/2 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp cornstarch

1. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients and mix until well blended.

2. Boil, on medium-low, until it thickens to be like brownie batter.

3. Set aside and cool completely.


1 cup milk
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. With a whisk, combine milk and flour in a saucepan.

2. Heat over a low flame until thick, like a paste.

3. Set aside and cool completely.

4. Cream together sugar, shortening, butter and vanilla.

5. Add to cooled flour mixture and whip until spreadable consistency.

Assembling the cake:

1. Be sure both the filling and the frosting are completely cooled before assembling the cake.

2. Spread the cooled filling over the top of the cake. (if you made a layered cake, hopefully you made enough to spread between the layers and on top of the cake.)

3. Let the filling layer set up a bit before frosting. I put it in the refrigerator for about an hour before frosting.

4. Top with the frosting.

5. Chill the cake before serving and store in refrigerator.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Homemade Citrus Hand Scrub

What a perfect handmade gift for any woman. I made up a few of these jars to give to the children's teachers for Teacher Appreciation week. Very simple to make and now my kitchen smells fresh! I'd love to try this with orange or lime zest.

Olive oil moisturizes, lemon freshens and is especially good for removing onion and garlic odors from the skin, the sugar/salt combo exfoliates dry skin and renews the appearance of your hands. Salt can be drying, so you wouldn't want to make the scrub entirely of salt, but add a bit for some coarser pieces. If you'd rather, simply replace the amount designated for the salt with additional sugar.


1 1/2 c sugar
1/3 c kosher salt
zest of 1 extra large lemon
1 c olive oil
1/4 tsp pure lemon extract


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. If you would like a slightly stronger fragrance, add a tad more extract. Spoon into a pretty jar, tighten the lid. Wipe any spills or drips from the outside of the jar. Alternatively, you can use orange or lime zest for a different fresh citrus smell. For an extra touch, tie a pretty bow around the jar if you plan to gift this scrub. This makes enough for a 1 pint canning jar.

I adhered a label to the jar that read:

~Homemade Citrus Hand Scrub~
Rub mixture into your
hands and let stand
1-2 minutes. Rinse with
cool water and
pat dry.