Strudel Feudal

Apple Strudel with Crème Anglaise

The original strudels origins are torn between Vienna, Austria and Germany especially the apfelstrudel (apple strudel) variety.
The paltry strudels you find in the shops are more like pies compared to this heavenly flavoursome crispy pastry.

Generally sweet pastry strudels are more popular, with flavour variants such as Poppy seed, soft cheese, or Cherry, but savoury strudels also make an appearance, and are closely related to "Börek" of Turkish and Ottoman origin . The trick to making a good strudel is to knead the dough sufficiently for it to stretch and become incredibly thin, almost like an elasticated form of phyllo pastry . It is similar to baklava in that it is stuffed with a filling, but it is covered in mountains of icing sugar rather than drenched in a large quantity of sugar syrup.
Each generation of recipes will differ slightly, some Ouma' s techniques for stretching the dough will be to either pull towards and downwards, while others stretch it up and outwards on the back of their hands. The fact that remains, is that you must rest the dough, make sure it is kneaded sufficiently for elasticity, and that it doesnt dry out.

This is fantastic recipe, it shows that you can be skillful and bake things with ease, when in fact the recipe is dead simple. I chose to use fresh apples as they give it a lovely texture and are slightly tart. You can use tinned apples if you dont have fresh ones available, I would have but the tin opener has dissappeared. It was tied to the window with a peice of string so we wouldn't lose it. I think it ran away.

Spiced Apple strudel
Strudel pastry:
250 g cake flour
1 egg
145 ml lukewarm water
2.5 ml lemon juice
pinch of salt
Strudel filling:
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp sugar
Ground cinnamin and cloves
2 apples, peeled

Sift the flour. Making a well, add the other ingredients. Mix to form a soft dough.
Knead for 5 to 7 mins.
Leave under a warm down turned bowl for 30 mins.
Cover a long table with a sheet. Sprinkle flour on the sheet and roll the dough into a large square. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rest for 15 mins (important!).
Using both hands together pull the dough towards you and stretch it to the side. Your aim is to get it paper thin, as legend has it "thin enough to read a love letter through ".
Brush with melted butter.

Cover with sugar, a sprinkling of ground cinnamon and ground cloves. Peel and core 2 apples. Thinly slice them and spread evenly over the pastry. You will find that if the slices all point in the same direction it will be easier to roll up.

Roll up with the help of the sheet. Brush with more butter and roll into either a circle, or heart or a ring.
Bake at 190◦C for 30 to 40 mins.
Serve hot and dust liberally with icing sugar.

Ah yes, creamy vanilla custard.
Unfortunately this does not bring back memories of sitting on my mother's lap as a bouncing cherub and being spoon fed apples and custard. No, rather, my first and most impressionable encounter with crème anglaise was at chef school. My memory is of me sweating profusely wearing a white chefs jacket and sweet talking the pot of slightly curdled custard. I am trying desperately to plead with it and whisk it into a smooth custardy sauce to no avail.
A short bewiskered invigilator stands to my side, tsk tsking as I reach for the sieve and scribbles something on her notepad. I was terrified of custards for a while after this but now that I have no one breathing down my back I can whip up a pretty good one.

This custard is a bit of a monster, you have to watch it all the time as eggs have a natural tendency to want to scramble.
The secret is to add some cornflour so it doesn’t curdle, which is not what was allowed at chef bootcamp, but is used in most kitchens when the pastry chef needs 5 litres of custard and not sweet scrambled eggs.
Crème anglaise (English cream) is a thin pouring consistency custard, not like Crème patisserie (Pastry cream) used in Danish pastries and iced buns.

Crème anglaise (or crème a la vanille)
250 ml milk
vanilla pod or essence
2 egg yolks
45 g castor sugar
2 g cornflour

Scald milk with the van pod. Leave to infuse for 2 to 3 mins.
Using a wooden spoon, cream the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour, until thick and light.
Add milk and return to the heat.
With the patience of a saint, stir continuously over a low heat until it coats the back of the spoon.
 This will take a good 15 minutes. Run your finger through the sauce coating the back of the spoon. if the trail is clear and holds a good line it is ready.

If it starts to curdle, rush it off the stove, and slam the pot into a basic of cold water (making sure you don't get water in the custard) whisk like a mad thing. if it doesn't come right and resembles Cordon eugh more than Cordon Bleu, admit defeat and get some custard from Woolies.

Now the only question remains. To share or not to share?