Austrian Pastry Challenge – Apple Strudel (round 2)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I fell in love with Viennese pastry when I lived in Austria. Since it is not easy to come by where I live, I thought I would attempt to learn how to make it myself by baking my way through The Classic Art of Viennese Pastry by Christine Berl. So what better recipe to start out with than classics apple strudel! This version came out much better than the previous attempt and I hope I will only get better with practice.

Apple Strudel Recipe

Notes: 

  • The original recipe makes two massive strudels so I divided it by four in order to make a strudel that would fit in my oven. I have posted the smaller recipe here. 
  • After step 1 of making the dough, the mixture was more of a soup then a dough for me. The next step was to knead the dough while adding only enough flour to make a sticky dough so I added extra flour to the mixture in the bowl until a  sticky dough formed which I could then knead. 
  • I used ground almonds instead of bread crumbs and it was delicious. 

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 71 g all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 80 mL warm water
  • 6 g butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 4 granny smith apples, sliced
  • 100 g sugar
  • 112 g raisins
  • ½ tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves, nutmeg and all-spice (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. rum
  • 30 g butter plus more for brushing
  • 70 g bread crumbs or ground almonds/walnuts

Directions

  1. To make the dough, place the flour in a ring in a medium bowl and pour the butter and water into the center and mix well.
  2. Add just enough flour to form a sticky dough and then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface.
  3. Alternate kneading and throwing the dough for about 15 min, until smooth and elastic.
  4. Place the dough onto a tray lined with parchment and cover with a bowl. Let sit for 1 hour 15 min.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the filling components.
  6. Slice the apples and place into a preheated saucepan. Pour in just enough water to cover the apples and let sauté for about 10 min, until slightly softened. Remove from heat and strain.
  7. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, raisins, spices, rum, and lemon zest. Add the apples and mix gently until coated. Set aside.
  8. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and the breadcrumbs or ground nuts. Stir frequently until lightly toasted.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  9. Preheat the over to 350°F (180°C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment.
  10. One a large, clean work surface, spread a clean tea towel and then cover with a sheet of parchment. Sprinkle lightly with flour.
  11. Place the dough on the parchment and lightly flour. Roll out into a  rectangle of 1 in (2.5 cm) thickness and brush with butter.
  12. Using your hands, gently pull and stretch the dough until it is very thin, almost transparent. Be sure it doesn’t stick to the cloth. Trim the edges so they are straight and to remove any remaining thick pieces.
  13. Mentally, divide the dough into three large stripes. Brush the upper stripe with melted butter. Leaving a 4 in (10 cm) empty rim around the edge, sprinkle the lower two stripes with the breadcrumbs and then with the apple mixture.
  14. To roll the strudel, use the parchment to gently roll up the strudel from the bottom stripe (with the apples) towards the top. Let the left and right edges of the dough stick out and just roll along side the strudel.
  15. When finished, roll the strudel onto its top (with the seam facing up) and then use the parchment to lift the strudel over the baking sheet. Roll the strudel gently off of the edge of the parchment onto the baking sheet so the seam ends up facing down.
  16. Brush the strudel with melted butter and bake for 50-60 minutes, while brushing frequently with melted butter, until golden and pastry is crisp.
  17. Allow to cool slightly before dusting heavily with icing sugar. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla custard or both!

Recipe adapted from: The Classic Art of Viennese Pastry by Christine Berl

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Bitterkoekjes

Bitterkoejes (Bitter cookies) are a traditional Dutch cookie that is similar to the Italian ameretti cookie. These are sweet, soft and chewy with a rich almond flavour, which instantly made them my favourite during my first visit to the Netherlands.

Bitterkoekjes Recipe

Notes:

  • The final dough is so thick that I used my hands to make sure it was mixed thoroughly.

Ingredients

  • 300 g ground almonds
  • 600 g sugar
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 2 egg whites

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix the ground almonds and sugar together.
  3. Add the eggs whites and almond extract and stir until a thick dough is formed.
  4. Using your hands, roll the dough into 1 in (2.5 cm) round balls and place on the baking sheet, pressing down slightly. Space the cookies about 1.5 in (3 cm) apart.
  5. Let the cookies cool in the fridge for 20-30 min until firm and then place into the oven.
  6. Bake for about 20 min, until light golden brown.
  7. Remove and let cool completely before removing from parchment. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Wannée Kookboek by C. Wannee & Sandra Kalkman

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Chocolate Espresso Bars

These bars are rich and strong, just like an espresso, and will definitely wake you up.

Chocolate Espresso Bars Recipe

Notes: Feel free to add extra espresso powder if you prefer a stronger taste. However, check the taste of the batter after each addition so as not to add too much (the batter will taste slightly stronger than the finished product).

For the brownies:

  • 94 g all-purpose flour
  • 45 g Dutch cocoa powder or 80 g dark chocolate
  • 2 packs instant espresso powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 113 g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 56 g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 g firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the glaze:

  • 60 ml heavy cream
  • 1 pack espresso powder
  • 112 g dark chocolate, chopped
  • Pinch of salt
  • 16 chocolate-covered espresso beans (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat an oven to 360°F (180°C) and grease a 8 in (20 cm) square pan.
  • Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder and salt into a bowl; set aside.
  • In a small, heavy saucepan over low heat, combine the butter and chocolate and heat, stirring occasionally, until melted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until blended. Gradually stir in the chocolate mixture and then add in the vanilla. Finally, the flour mixture and mix well.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the center is springy to the touch, about 25 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool.
  • While the brownies cools, make the glaze: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream with the espresso powder and heat, stirring, just until the powder is dissolved and bubbles start to appear around the pan edges.
  • Add the chocolate and salt, remove from the heat and stir just until the chocolate is melted. Let cool to room temperature.
  • Using a small spatula spread the cooled glaze over the cooled brownies in a thin layer. Refrigerate until the glaze is set, 30-60 minutes.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut into 1 in (2 cm) squares and top each with a chocolate-covered espresso bean. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/chocolate-espresso-bars.html

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Apricot Oatmeal Bars

Sweet apricots perfectly complement the wholesome nutty flavour of oats.

Apricot Oatmeal Bars Recipe

  • 170 g unsalted butter, cut up
  • 130 g dried apricots
  • 120 g old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 125 g all-purpose flour
  • 200 g firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp. almond extract

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175˚C). Line the bottom of a 9 in (23 cm) pan with foil.
  • Place the butter in a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir until the butter is melted, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • In a bowl, combine the rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Stir until well blended and no lumps of sugar remain. Using scissors, snip the apricots into ½ in (2 cm) pieces and add to mixture.
  • Add melted butter and vanilla to the bowl and stir until well blended. The dough will be moist and crumbly. Pour the dough into the prepared baking pan and press the dough into the pan with your fingers.
  • Bake until the top is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.
  • Lift the foil and the oatmeal bars from the pan and place on a work surface. Peel away the foil from the sides and bottom.
  • Using a small, sharp knife, cut into small squares. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/apricot-oatmeal-bars.html

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Rickety Uncles

These were my boyfriend’s favourite while growing up. They are incredibly simply yet absolutely delicious and completely addicting!

Rickety Uncles Recipe

Notes: For variation, try adding small pieces of dried fruit to the recipe or spread nutella and almond flakes on the finished bars. 

  • 160 g rolled oats
  • 150 g brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 115 g unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F (175˚C).
  • Melt the butter and cool slightly.
  • Stir together the rolled oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.
  • Combine the extracts with the butter and pour into the rolled oats.
  • Mix thouroughly and press into an ungreased 8 in (20 cm) square pan.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Let cool completely before cutting into squares and removing from pan. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: http://www.whiskblog.com/2008/11/hand-me-down-recipesrickety-uncles-with.html

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Chocolate Mint Brownies

Here is one of my favourite flavour combinations, chocolate and mint, in brownie form! What could be better?

Chocolate Mint Brownies Recipe

Notes: At the end when cutting the brownies into squares, it is a good idea to wipe your knife between cuts with a damp cloth.

Brownie Layer:

  • 113 g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 114 g unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 250 grams sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 65 g all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Mint Layer:

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 120 g powdered sugar
  • 1.5 mL heavy cream
  • ½ tsp. pure peppermint extract or 1-2 Tbsp. creme de menthe
  • a few drops green food coloring

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 90 g semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) and line a 9 x 9 in (23 x 23 cm) square baking pan with aluminum foil.
  • To make the brownies, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat in a large saucepan.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (with a wooden spoon) after each addition. Stir in the flour and salt and beat until the batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan (about one minute).
  • Pour the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the edges of the brownies are just beginning to brown. Use a toothpick to check if the center is done.
  • Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to completely cool.
  • Meanwhile, make the mint layer by beating all the ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.
  • Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownie layer and place in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes to set.
  • Meanwhile, make the chocolate glaze by melting the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat.
  • Spread over the cool mint filling and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes, until the chocolate glaze starts to dull and is firm.
  • Remove the brownies from the pan by lifting with the ends of the foil and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into small squares with a sharp knife. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Joy of Baking: http://www.joyofbaking.com/barsandsquares/ChocolateMintBrownies.html

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Millionaire’s Shortbread

In 2008, I spent a summer doing an internship at a research center in Cambridge, U.K. Despite the world-class scientific reputation of Cambridge, my biggest discovery that summer did not occur in the lab, but in the bakery: Millionaire’s Shortbread!

Millionaire’s Shortbread Recipe

For the shortbread:

  • 170 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 50 g sugar
  • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 210 g all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 1 can (396 g) sweetened condensed milk

For the topping:

  • 170 g bittersweet chocolate, cut into pieces
  • 1 tsp. unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a 9 in square (23 cm) pan with parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then add the vanilla extract. Beat in the flour and salt and until the dough just comes together.
  3. Press the dough onto the bottom of the pan and bake until a pale golden colour, ~20 minutes.
  4. Remove the shortbread from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, make the filling by pouring the sweetened condensed milk into a large bowl and microwave on medium high for about 4 minutes. Stir the milk and microwave on low while stirring every 2 min until a thick, light caramel is formed, ~8-12 minutes. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
  6. Pour the caramel over the shortbread and place in the fridge until set.
  7. Once the caramel is set, melt the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth. Pour over the caramel and place in the fridge until firm.
  8. Remove from the fridge and cut into squares. Enjoy!

 Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking: http://www.joyofbaking.com/Millionaire’sShorbreadBars.html

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Rosemary Shortbread

This is a surprisingly delicious combination of sweet and savory.

Rosemary Shortbread Recipe

Notes: You can substitute dried rosemary if you do not have fresh.  

Ingredients

  • 250 g all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 170 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. mild honey
  • 60 g powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line a 8 in (20 cm) round pan with parchment.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and rosemary in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the together butter, honey, and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the flour mixture and mix until the dough forms pea-sized crumbs.
  4. With floured hands, gather the dough into a ball and knead gently until it just comes together, about 8 times.
  5. Form a rough disk shape with you hands and place into the bottom of the pan. Press the disk into the form of the pan. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the dough.
  6. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 min.
  7. Slide the shortbread on the parchment onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into small squares or large slices and serve. Enjoy!

Biscuit recipe adapted from Epicurious: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Rosemary-Shortbread-107452

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Tea Biscuits with Fresh Strawberry Jam

Fresh jam is very easy to make and pairs perfectly with these soft biscuits.

Feel free to try other berries or fruits for making the jam.

Tea Biscuits with Fresh Strawberry Jam Recipe

Notes: If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, just use a drinking glass to cut out the biscuit shapes.

Ingredients

For the strawberry jam:

  • 500 g fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 100 g sugar
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice

For the biscuits:

  • 250 g all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 115 g cold unsalted butter
  • 190 mL milk

Directions      

  1. Place the strawberries and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.
  2. Lower to medium heat and stir frequently until thick, about 1 hour.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  5. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture has a fine crumb texture.
  6. Stir in the milk with a fork to make a soft dough.
  7. Knead the dough 8 to 10 times, and then roll out to a thickness of ~½ in (1 cm).
  8. Cut into rounds with a cookie or biscuit cutter. Place on the cookie sheet, and allow to rest for a few minutes.
  9. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Biscuit recipe adapted from all recipes: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/tea-biscuits/detail.aspx

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Chocolate, Cherries and Cream Meringue Layer Cake

If you ever have something special to celebrate, this is the cake to make! It is absolutely stunning and is a perfect balance of tart cherries, bitter chocolate, sweet meringue and smooth whipped cream!

Chocolate, Cherries and Cream Meringue Layer Cake Recipe

Notes:

  • I used the bottom of my spring form pan as a baking sheet for the meringue layers.
  • For the nuts, you can use almonds or hazelnuts alone or you can mix them. I chose to split the meringue in half and make three layers with almonds and three with hazelnuts.
  • The cream must be kept very cold in order for it to whip. If it is too warm, it will thicken but will not form peaks and will eventually split.

Ingredients

For the meringue layers:

  • Vegetable oil for greasing
  • 50 g all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 10 large egg whites, at room temperature for 30 minutes
  • 200 g ground toasted almonds and/or hazelnuts

For the chocolate layers:

  • 300 g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 60 mL water
  • 1 teaspoon instant-coffee granules (optional)

For the cherry layers:

  • 450 g jar of low sugar cherry jam
  • 60 mL water

For the kirsch cream:

  • 750 mL cold heavy cream
  • 50 g powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. kirsch or Cognac

Directions      

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220ºC). Cut out six 8 in (20 cm) disks of parchment paper and dust lightly with flour. Place onto baking sheets.
  2. Whisk the flour and sugar together in a small bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks.
  4. Fold in the sugar mixture gently but thoroughly and then fold in nuts.
  5. Gently spread 1/6 of the mixture onto a parchment disk, coming right to the edge but not going over. Set remaining meringue in the fridge.
  6. Bake the meringues, one at a time, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes (the meringue will be soft and sticky).
  7. Slide the meringue and parchment off of the baking sheet and set on a wire rack to cool. Repeat until all six meringues are made.
  8. Gently turn the meringues over onto fresh lightly floured parchment paper and very gently remove the old parchment paper.
  9. While the meringues cool, heat the jam and water in a small saucepan on medium heat while stirring until liquid. Set in the fridge to cool.
  10. Heat the chocolate, water, and coffee in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Cool to lukewarm and then spread the chocolate evenly over tops of the meringues. Cool at room temperature until chocolate is hard, about an hour.
  11. Once the chocolate is hard, stir the cooled cherry mixture until smooth and gently spread over five of the chocolate meringues (leave one with just chocolate). Let sit for a few minutes.
  12. Meanwhile, beat the cream with the sugar and kirsch in a cold bowl with clean beaters until it holds stiff peaks.
  13. Place a chocolate cherry meringue on the serving plate. Slide four thick strips of parchment paper just under the edges of the meringue so that they make a protective border for the serving plate and can easily side out after the cream has been spread on the outside of the cake.
  14. Spread ~80 mL of the cream, roughly a ½ in (1 cm) layer on top of the cherries. Be very careful not to disturb the cherry layer or it will mix with the cream and turn it pink. Gently place another chocolate cherry meringue layer on top and repeat the process until complete. The top layer should be the chocolate meringue.
  15. Frost the top and the sides of the cake very carefully with the remaining cream. Let sit uncovered in the fridge for several hours to set before serving.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Meringue-Chocolate-and-Kirsch-Cream-Layer-Cake-108902

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