I am posting this recipe again this year 2015 with a few minor changes. The local crop of California Bing and Rainier Cherries are in and they are so large , juicy, and deeply flavorful, more so than they have been in years, that I decided to make Strudel. I also bought more than we could possibly eat!
Bing Cherry Strudel and Cherry Apple Strudel
As I am sitting at my desk I was thinking about how much we enjoyed eating ‘real’ strudel in the Czech Republic and in Hungary. I am not talking about canned apples or cherries in Philo dough. Thin, flaky, buttery layers, with a crisp kind of shell and melt in your mouth filling of sweet yet slightly acidic fruit was the perfect bite.
On the Fourth of July only Michael and I were home. I made a simple barbecue for us and I spent the afternoon on my new quest to master strudel dough. The strudel was done in time to enjoy a slice with a cup of tea on my balcony, while we watched the fireworks.
A Google search for strudel recipes turned up pages of recipes and You Tube videos. After reading for a while and watching multiple videos for technique I chose four recipes to print out. The filling, well, I did my own thing after looking at what fruit I had in the refrigerator. The recipes amounts for water and flour were all basically on the same ratio, the magic ingredient seems to be a tiny bit of vinegar added to the liquid.
The results were amazing. I will no longer be intimidated by pictures of old grannies or bakers doing the ‘lost art’ of dough pulling and stretching. Yes, our generation can do it! Try it! For the filling, I pitted 3 plastic bags of huge dark, firm, sweet, Bing cherries. For the second strudel I peeled and sliced 4 large Pink Lady Apples.
Pick which strudel filling you wish to make if you are only making one recipe of dough. If I were you I would make two batches of dough and make both fillings.
Dough for Strudel:
3 cups of all purpose unbleached flour plus 1/4 quarter cup for kneading
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Assembly and Garnish:
2 sticks or 1 cups of melted butter for brushing dough when forming strudel
Powdered sugar for dusting after baking
6 cups of dark Bing cherries, pitted, stemmed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces. Do it by hand one by one, they release less juice that way.
1 tablespoon lemon rind, freshly grated
1 and 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
2-3 tablespoons butter
Pink Lady Apple Filling:
4 large Pink Lady Apples
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon rind, freshly grated
2 cups Bing cherries, pitted and chopped
1 and 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup Panko
3/4 cup finely minced pecans or walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar combined with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon in a shaker bottle.
To make Cherry filling; place cherries sugar and lemon rind in a non stick pan. Cook until juice is thick and cherries are softened, but still whole. To toast the bread crumbs, place Panko crumbs in a non stick sauté pan with butter. Stir until bread crumbs become a little golden and then add to the cherries. The breadcrumbs absorb the excess juice from the fruit during cooking so the strudel won’t be soggy.
For apple /cherry filling peel apples and slice them in half. Core the apples and cut out stems. Slice them thinly as for apple pie. Combine apples with cherries and sugar and lemon rind in a non stick sauté pan and cook until apples are becoming soft and juices are thickened. Prepare Panko crumbs by toasting in butter. Add Panko and nuts to apple cherry filling and set aside.
Make dough. Place flour and salt in mixing bowl of stand mixer. Add warm water with oil, and vinegar to flour. Beat on medium until a ball of dough forms, about one minute. Let dough rest for 10 minutes. Touch dough to determine how sticky it is. Add remaining 1/4 cup flour and beat until soft, smooth, shiny and easily removable from mixer. Place smooth ball of dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel to rest for about one hour. During resting time prepare filling and stretching table. For stretching I recommend a kitchen table covered with a clean white bed sheet dusted in flour.
To finish the strudel you will need a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper and a bowl with 2 sticks melted butter and a silicone pastry brush.
Pre heat an oven to 375°F with a rack prepared in the upper one third. Remove dough from bowl where it has been resting. Place dough in center of floured sheet on table. Give dough a couple of passes with a wood rolling pin to make a rectangle and then start to stretch by hand. Remove all jewelry, close your hands, and with knuckle side up, slide your hands between dough and sheet. Using the tops of your hands gently expand them outward to expand dough. Dough will stretch easily. Carefully work your way around perimeter of rectangle. Then go deeper toward the center ever expanding. Work slowly, don’t rush dough. Continue working until the dough is about a 32 inch by 40 inch rectangle and becoming translucent. Use a scissor to trim tiny thick edge that is left on perimeter. Brush dough lightly with melted butter using a pastry brush. I recommend a silicone brush to prevent any tearing.
Place filling down the long side of one edge about 3 inches in from edge. The column of cherry filling should be a 2 to 3 inches wide. Use edge of the sheet to grab with your hands and start to roll up the cylinder. Brush cylinder with more butter if needed while you roll. When strudel is finished being rolled, seal the two ends. Carefully lift one end of the strudel onto prepared baking sheet and make an S shape on the pan with the rest. Brush top with melted butter and place pan in oven to bake.
Bake strudel for about 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. After strudel cools lift it carefully onto a board to cut. Before you cut into slices, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Use a very sharp serrated knife for slicing pieces.