This time around for the Modern Baker Challenge, I chose the Apricot & Almond Strudel recipe from the puff pastries section of Nick Malgieri's book, The Modern Baker. I was a little nervous about this recipe as the instructions for making his instant puff pastry seemed too easy and I knew it couldn't be that simple. The pictures all showed a clean work area and perfect looking dough.
Before I started making the instant puff pasty, I had decided I would take pictures at different stages, but as I started into it, I ran into problems from the beginning, so I felt lucky that I even got the puff pastry dough made at all. My poor old Hamilton Beach food processor bowl only has a 3 cup capacity, so I knew I could only make at most a half batch of Malgieri's instant puff pastry, which was fine since this recipe only required a 1/2 batch. The amount of butter and flour, though, for a half batch of puff pastry, was still a little much for my food processor bowl. I had a lot of flour going everywhere and when I went to dump everything out onto my floured mat, I had quite a bit of loose stuff.
I managed to get the puff pastry made, with a minimal amount of grumbling, wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap and tucked it into the back of the fridge on the bottom shelf. I was really worried if the stuff was going to roll out OK for the strudel, because it was very crumbly and I had a tough time rolling it up in the last step of making the puff pastry. I was rolling with one hand and using my large off set spatula with the other, to get under the dough that was sticking to the mat. It was definitely not a tight log.
Here's my puff pastry log before I started rolling out dough for the strudel,
I wish I could've rolled it tighter to get more layers into my puff pastry, but better luck next time I guess.
I asked hubby, apricots or apples for the filling, and I knew he would pick apples. He's not a real big fan of apricots, and since fall is quickly approaching, it seemed more appropriate anyway to use an apple filling for the strudel. Then as I kept looking at the recipe, I just couldn't see apples paring well with the almond part of the filling, which is made w/ almond paste. I thought the almond paste mixture would overpower the apples and that the apple flavor wouldn't shine through.
I'd just recently purchased a copy of America's Test Kitchen's third installment of Cooking for Two 2011, and what da ya know, there was a recipe for Quick Apple Strudel near the back. They used phyllo dough for their strudel, but the filling sounded really good so I decided to double it for my strudel and away I went.
The ATK apple strudel filling consisted of:
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon Calvados, applejack, or apple cider (I used cider)
2 tablespoons dried bread crumbs or panko (I used the latter)
1 tablespoon melted butter (for toasting the bread crumbs in a small skillet)
1 medium McIntosh apple, peeled, cored, sliced and diced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
I doubled this filling recipe and for the apple I used roughly two apples, which consisted of Golden Delicious, Cortland, and a McIntosh. Whenever I make apple anything I use several different kinds of apples to get varying flavors and textures in the finished dish.
Here's the bottom layer of my strudel before and after laying on the filling,
The top layer of the strudel remained in the fridge while I docked the bottom layer and spread my filling out onto the dough leaving a 1/2 inch margin all around. Then the top layer came out of the fridge and after cutting the slits in it and brushing egg wash on the edges of the bottom layer, the top was placed on, sealed, crimped, poked, prodded and everything else. Here she is ready for the oven,
and at this point is where my tummy usually starts growling a little prematurely, since I know it'll still be a while before we can dig in!
Unfortunately, the strudel wouldn't fit on my rimmed half sheet pan, so I then had to bake it on my rimless air bake cookie sheet and butter went everywhere in the baking process. Oh well, I rarely make oven messes so this little one shouldn't be too hard to clean up.
It was worth it and hubby declared that it was delicious. I thought it was good, and very flaky tender, but it was just a tad bit greasy tasting to me, because of all the butter. I know one thing, I probably won't be trying to make my own puff pastry again until I get a knew 12-cup food processor!