Can we say down to the wire? Normally when I learn what the DB challenge is, I have it completed within a week or two. This one was done just a few hours ago! Oh yes, the required lines:
The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague by Rick Rodgers.
I have managed to keep myself surprisingly busy lately, which is part of the reason why I just completed my challenge today. I knew I wanted to make something a little more seasonal. Originally I had planned on doing a strawberry strudel, but lately cherries have been all over the farmers market. I saw a recipe for ricotta and cherry strudel and I knew that was what I would be making. It was especially lucky that I already had ricotta left from my Daring Cooks challenge a few weeks ago. I used the dough from the challenge and then played around with the filling.
The dough came together very easily in the stand mixer, but it can also be done by hand. While the dough was resting, I went to work on my filling. I ended up making two small strudels because I wanted to test the stretching of the dough without having to make a double batch. One strudel had cherries baked inside as well as a cherry sauce on top and the other was only filled with the remaining ricotta and topped with the cherry sauce. I think I preferred the plain ricotta strudel topped with the sauce which gave some flavor to the bland dough. Rolling and stretching turned out to be easier than I thought. I probably could have gotten the dough thinner, but with time not on my side, I went with what I had.
I would love to try this again and make a savory filling instead. People got very creative with their fillings, be sure to check the other Daring Bakers' sites to see how they did. The dough recipe and tips can be found here or here. Recipe for the filling is below.
Ricotta and Cherry Strudel
(Adapted from Lidia Bastianich for Bon Appetit, May 2007)
8 ounces whole-milk fresh ricotta cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces cherries, halved and pitted, reserve any juices
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon triple sec
6 tablespoons finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
To make the ricotta filling:
Line a strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth and set over a deep bowl. Place the ricotta in the strainer and allow to drain overnight in the refrigerator. Squeeze the cheesecloth to drain as much liquid as possible from the mixture.
Using an electric mixture, beat the ricotta, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until well incorporated. Refrigerate while preparing the cherries and stretching the dough.
To make the cherry filling:
In a medium bowl, mix together the cherries, any juices, the sugar, lemon juice and triple sec. Allow to sit for an hour or so for the flavors to come together.
Drain half of the cherry mixture and save the juices. Use the drained cherries in the strudel. Use the remaining cherries and juices to make a sauce. Place them in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until the mixture has thickened, about 4-8 minutes.
To make the crumb filling:
Mix the crumbs and the sugar.
To assemble the strudel, brush the stretched out dough with some of the melted butter. Lay a thin layer of the crumbs in the center of the dough. Top with some of the ricotta mixture and then gently press the drained cherries into the ricotta. Roll the dough and brush the top with more melted butter. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let the strudel sit for 30 minutes before cutting into it. Serve warm or at room temperature.