Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes

Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes
Chef Ilona Szabo Reveals The Secrets of Hungarian Cooking

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hungarian Retes – Strudels or Rétes Tészta (Part II)

Hungarian Retes 
(Part II)
One of the keys to light, flaky Hungarian strudel dough is the flour. In Hungary, special flour is sold specifically for strudel, but of course this isn't available everywhere. My mother recalls as a little girl having to go to the flour mill to ask for a specific grade of flour – depending on what her mother wanted to bake. For strudel – you need hard wheat flour. It has the gluten consistency necessary for the stretching that yields the thin papery pastry. As an alternative, look for flour that is finely ground and contains a high level of gluten. Bread and pastry flour work well. If you're in North America, try to get flour from Manitoba, as it tends to contains a very high gluten content. The gluten here really is essential. This cannot be stressed enough.  But, having said all that, you can use all-purpose flour with acceptable results.

If you are a pastry connoisseur, this is definitely a recipe to try from scratch. The instructions here present the ingredients in the order you'll actually use them when you put the strudel together, but it is easiest to prepare the fillings before you start the dough. That way you can fill the dough immediately after stretching it, so it won't have a chance to become dry and brittle. (Important Note to the Aspiring Chef: The traditional method of making strudel dough is a fair amount of work. If you are shy about preparing strudel from scratch, not to worry. Use a package of Phyllo dough instead. It can be readily purchased from grocer’s freezer pastry section. The end results are virtually the same. Just follow directions on package. )

Strudel Dough Ingredients
4 cups all purpose flour
(or hard wheat flour
if accessible)
2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoon vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup warm water
1 lb Crisco, melted

In a large mixing bowl, blend all ingredients except the shortening.  Knead dough consistently for about ½ hour to get the gluten going.  Dough should be light and very smooth.  Cover – let rest 1 hour in a moderately warm area.

Strudel Stretching Stage:  After the dough is well-rested, prepare your work surface. Spread a clean linen table cloth evenly on a large table and dust lightly with flour.  Place the dough in the centre of table and gently starting stretching it by using the back of your hands, placing them underneath the large mass of dough.  Start working your way around the table.  Continue the even stretching until you reach a ⅛” thickness. Then, spread the melted Crisco shortening using a pasty brush over the entire surface.  Use light strokes being careful not to tear the delicate dough. Cover and let the stretched dough rest for 10 minutes.

Fillings: Place your favourite filling by dotting all over the strudel dough evenly. Hint:  Don’t be tempted to place all the filling at one end of the pastry sheet and roll up.  This will make the log lumpy and the dough will end up thick at one end. (Not a pretty sight or bite.) Then, gently roll up the strudel using the tablecloth to assist. Fit the large rolled log onto a baking sheet. If it’s too large and your cookie sheet is not of adequate size, feel free to curve the log into somewhat of a large “U”. Then, finally, brush the top with Crisco or melted butter.  Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes until flakes start to separate and the strudel is shiny and golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool about 10- 15 minutes before cutting into diagonal 3” pieces using a sharp cerated knife.  Use a gentle sawing motion – without pressure so as not to disturb the fillings.  Place pastry pieces onto a plate and dust generously with icing sugar. If serving creamed custard, spoon over generous dollops and let the hot strudel melt the cream. Or, puddle the custard and set the dessert in the center – dusting with confectioner’s sugar to finish off!

Sweet Strudel Fillings:  Cherry, apple, poppy seed, walnut and cottage cheese and noodles.

Savoury Strudel Fillings: Cabbage, Mushroom or Ham Strudel (savour the possibilities – chicken, asparagus, pan fried onions, spinach, potatoes (oven roasted) ricotta or farmers cheese.

Apple Strudel
Cabbage Strudel
Cottage Cheese Noodles Phyllo Bundles
Cottage Cheese Strudel
Grape Strudel With White Wine Sauce
Ham Strudel
Poppy Seed Strudel
Potato Strudel
Rice Pudding Strudel
Sour Cherry Strudel
Varga Strudel Cake With Noodles
Walnut Strudel
Wild Mushroom Strudel

For all of the above listed recipes and fillings for the various desserts, please visit our website and own a copy of Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes today!
Jó étvágyat kívánok!

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