Donavon, ever the perfectionist, was being a true worry-wort, sure that it wasn’t going to turn out as good as mine used to be. My table here is much bigger and the strudel cannot be hung over the edges of the table, and he was sure it wasn’t working. After stretching one batch of dough and worrying that it wasn’t going to be like mine, Alyssa firmly pushed him aside and said she would do the second one herself. It was a good thing, because then Donavon was free to snap a few photos… not as many as we should have had, but hopefully sufficient to make your mouth water. When the strudels were baked and cool enough to cut, Donavon absolutely beamed as he took his first bite and realized it was EXACTLY like my strudel, and tasted just as good as he remembered. Middle son Craig and youngest daughter Tricia were also here to enjoy the fruits of their labor! It was a very good day.
Friday, January 9, 2015
Who Wants Strudel?
One of the things my children have been wanting to learn is how to make Strudel. When I lived on the Iron Range of Minnesota, an elderly friend taught me to make it. I have never found a recipe in any cookbook that was made the same way as it was made up there in the North Country. My Aunt Betty made delicious Apple Strudel, also, but not much of it got out of her house, with four sons and my uncle who all loved it. My sons loved strudel so much, they would volunteer to peel the apples if I would make it, and even sometimes requested Apple Strudel instead of a birthday cake. I remember them coming in from their paper routes at 6:00 in the morning and peeling apples on those days I agreed to make it… before apple peeler/corers were available, or if they were available, they were beyond what we could afford. So this Christmas, my youngest son and his wife had a strudel lesson on their agenda. I must say, it was especially fun for me, as all I had to do was sit my behind in a chair and give instructions! Donavon complained several times about his back aching from standing and kneading the dough (we made two strudels and each needs to be kneaded for 15 or 20 minutes) and he proclaimed a new respect for all the times I made them strudel when they were children! He had no idea it was so labor-intensive! Of course, I sat adorned with my martyr’s crown in humble acceptance of his praise. When it came time to stretch the second strudel, Alyssa pushed him aside and did it herself. The photo below shows the strudel dough when she had it partially stretched.
Mix in large bowl:
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 ¼ cup warm water
I now put the ingredients in a food processor and zap it quickly several times just until the dough forms a ball, but it can be mixed in a bowl by hand, as well. Do NOT overmix in the food processor, or the dough will break down and will not stretch properly. Knead on lightly floured board for 15 minutes until dough is no longer sticky and very soft and elastic. Add as little flour as necessary to keep it from being sticky. As you knead the dough, it will become less sticky so don’t be tempted to add too much flour. Put dough in a bowl that has a bit of oil in the bottom. Cover strudel dough completely with oil. The oil can be returned to the bottle after you remove the dough the next day. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place overnight, or at least 8 hours, until dough rises and is soft and pliable. Cover table with a large tablecloth that has been sprinkled with flour. Lift dough out of oil and let drain over bowl for a moment. Put dough in center of table. Begin to carefully pull dough outward from center, and then using the palm of your hand and being careful not to tear the dough, stretch dough out to hang over the table on all sides. The dough will be very thin and you can see where the thick spots are and can put your hand in those areas to gently stretch it thinner. Let the stretched strudel dry for a few minutes. Melt ½ cup butter. Drizzle over stretched dough and then carefully pat it around so all dough is buttered. Don’t try to rub it, as you could tear the dough. Dough will be fragile at this point, so work quickly and carefully. For Apple Strudel, sprinkle buttered dough with crushed cornflake crumbs or dried bread crumbs, to absorb some of the apple juice. Skip this step of crumbs for the Cheese Strudel. Spread with filling and tear off thick edges that are hanging over the table edge. Roll up, jelly roll style, lifting the edge of the tablecloth and gently shaking it to begin rolling. Carefully coil strudel in shallow roaster or large baking pan. Drizzle with another ½ cup melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees about 40 to 60 minutes, until golden brown and filling is cooked. Baste the top a time or two with the butter and juices that accumulate around the strudel. The strudel will puff up somewhat, but fall a bit as it cools.
3# small curd cottage cheese, drained and rinsed in large colander
4 eggs, beaten slightly
½ cup sour cream
1 to 2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon dill weed OR a handful of chopped fresh chives
Apple filling: (Shown below)
Peel and slice 3# apples
Sprinkle buttered, stretched strudel dough with dried homemade bread crumbs or crushed cornflake crumbs. Spread apples over strudel. Sprinkle with about 1 cup brown sugar (may substitute white granulated sugar). Sprinkle with cinnamon. May add chopped walnuts.
My neighbor, Rose, taught me about making the cheese strudel, and it was one of the things that we always made when the Chives in the garden began to grow in the springtime. When I married Ted, he taught me to make it with Dill Weed, the way his mother used to make it. My children and I talked about how it would be interesting to sprinkle the cheese topping lightly with fresh raspberries or blueberries before rolling it up. It will be fun to experiment with those additions. Now, with many of my beloved friends and my husband gone, these recipes help to keep them alive and close to me in thought. I shared many good times with them, and those thoughts are my company now when the nights are long and lonely.
Speaking of times gone by, when having their strudel lesson at Christmas, my children were coveting