Hearty Hamburger Buns

Hearty Hamburger Buns - The Rowdy BakerHomemade hamburger buns are easy to make, and taste so much better than store bought! Three types of flour are combined in this recipe to create a hearty dough that is substantial and flavorful, with a tender, consistently even crumb.

The Man’s birthday was today, and he chose hamburgers for his birthday dinner. I was willing to cook just about anything, but…he chose hamburgers! Since I’m trying to sneak whole wheat into our diet, I added enough to give the buns some character without turning them into hockey pucks. He said it was the best hamburger I’d ever made – so we were both happy with the results!Hearty Hamburger Buns from The Rowdy Baker

Of course, these buns aren’t just for hamburgers. Personally, I’m all about using them for peanut butter and banana sandwiches!  They’d be great for Sloppy Joes too, because they’re dense enough to keep from getting soggy.

This recipe makes sixteen average buns, or twelve large ones. They’re best fresh, so keep out the quantity you think you’ll eat in a couple of days and freeze the rest for later.

You really want this dough to be soft and slightly sticky so the buns aren’t too dry. There are lots of variables with bread: the brand of flour you use, your measuring technique, even the weather. So if it is really sticky, add a little more flour. You should be able to poke at the dough without having to wash your finger, but if you lift the dough with unfloured hands, it will definitely stick to them!

Hearty Hamburger Buns
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Makes 16 average buns or 12 large buns
Ingredients
  • 2 cups very warm water
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 packages active-dry yeast
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • sesame seeds or grated cheese if desired for topping
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (preferably using a stand mixer) combine the warm water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the water and allow it to sit 5-10 minutes, or until it looks bubbly.
  2. Add honey and egg, mixing until well combined.
  3. With mixer on low, using a dough hook, add the bread flour and mix well. Add the wheat flour, cake flour, and salt, mixing until all flour is incorporated.
  4. Mix in the softened butter.
  5. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, (or 7-8 minutes by hand on a well floured board). THIS DOUGH WILL BE VERY SOFT AND SLIGHTLY STICKY. If it is very sticky, add a little more bread flour.
  6. Move dough to a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
  7. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and cut into two equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log and cut each log into 8 pieces (or 6 pieces for jumbo buns).
  8. Form each piece into a ball and place on slightly greased baking sheets, no more than 6 pieces per sheet. Let the balls sit for 10 minutes, then press each one down firmly with the lightly greased bottom of a heavy pan. Let the buns rest and rise slightly in a warm place for 10 minutes, then lightly brush the top of each bun with water or milk. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, cheese, or both!
  9. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  10. Bake one sheet of buns at a time for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are rich golden brown. Cool on a baking rack.

Once the yeast is softened and bubbly, add honey and egg.

Once the yeast is softened and bubbly, add honey and egg.

Then the flour and salt

Then the flour and salt

Add butter (okay...I forgot a pic of that) and knead. It will look pretty sticky, like this.

Add butter last (okay…I forgot a pic of that) and knead. It will look pretty sticky, like this.

Place dough in greased bowl. It won't be a pretty round ball, but that's okay.

Place dough in greased bowl. It won’t be a pretty round ball, but that’s okay.

Dough has doubled.

Dough has doubled.

Roll into two logs and cut into 16 pieces - or 12 if you want big 'uns.

Divide into 16 pieces – or 12 if you want big ‘uns.

Smash them flat with a heavy pan.

Smash them flat with a heavy pan.

Brush the tops with milk or water. (Milk will make a softer crust.)

Brush the tops with milk or water. (Milk will make a softer crust.)

Sprinkle with sesame seeds

Sprinkle with sesame seeds…

...or cheese.

…or cheese.

Bake until rich golden brown.

Bake until rich golden brown.

Not hard at all, huh? Like any rolls that come out of my oven, a couple of these babies were immediately hijacked, spread with butter, and inhaled. Who needs a burger?

Lorinda

Bear Farts! (Huckleberry Doughnut Drops)

Bear Farts - The Rowdy BakerBy now I should know better than to ask my husband to help me find a name for a new recipe; his sense of humor never evolved past fourth grade. But I have to admit, his suggestion made me laugh, and if you’ve ever wandered through the woods looking for huckleberries, you have probably seen lots of proof that bears found them first, and ate a ton of them!

To continue the bear theme with these delightful little cake doughnut drops, I made mine with honey instead of sugar. Buttermilk and a little fresh lemon are added for a touch of tang, but the huckleberries are really the star of the show.

Use fresh or frozen wild huckleberries, or small blueberries if you must. Expect to have a few escapees, as some will leap to their destruction in the hot oil. That’s a little distressing, since I know exactly how long and hard I have to pick to get a cup of berries, but the end result is worth the sacrifice. (Hint: Scoop those stray berries out of the oil between batches of Bear Farts. You don’t want them to cook into little black chunks that will stick to your lovely creations.)huckleberries aug 7 2016

These are very easy to make. Messing with the hot oil is the only time-consuming part of the recipe, but I’m just not crazy about baked doughnuts, so…I indulge in the real thing once in a while.

Oil is expensive. I use peanut oil (about $13.00 a gallon), and if I’m using my big stock pot it takes almost a gallon to get the oil deep enough. That’s a pricey batch of doughnuts! But you can use a smaller pan and just cook fewer doughnut drops at a time. You can also filter the used oil (cooled down, of course) through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer and keep it in the refrigerator until you need it again.

Keep an eye on your thermometer and try to keep the oil at 350 F. If it gets hotter, the drops will get brown before the inside is done – not a good thing. Use a slotted spoon or spider to remove the doughnut drops, and layer them between paper towels to remove excess oil.

Remember, these aren’t light and airy like yeast doughnuts. They’re moist and dense, like…well…cake. Cake doughnuts are really best when they’re eaten fresh; they lose a little of their appeal by the next day. Eat ’em up!

Bear Farts! (Huckleberry Doughnut Drops)
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Makes about 48 doughnut drops. This can vary, depending on the size of your scoop.
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons oil (I use peanut oil)
  • ¾ cup honey
  • zest and juice from one medium lemon
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup huckleberries, divided (If using frozen berries, keep frozen until needed.)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • oil for frying (peanut or canola work well)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, oil, honey, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat until frothy.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large pan or a deep fat fryer, add at least 2 inches of oil and a candy thermometer. Heat to 350 degrees.
  4. While oil is heating, gently stir ⅔ cup of berries into the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients and stir JUST until combined.
  5. Once oil is the proper temperature, use a small cookie scoop (or two spoons - one to push the dough off the other) to drop small amounts of dough - about a rounded teaspoon full - into hot oil. They won't be perfectly round; shapes will vary wildly!
  6. BE VERY CAREFUL! Wear oven mitts and watch the temperature of your oil constantly. Try to keep it between 350 and (at the most) 375 F.
  7. Use a slotted spoon or spider to roll the doughnut drops over. When they are a rich brown, remove and layer between paper towels to drain.
  8. Place remaining ⅓ cup of huckleberries in a small pan on low heat with 1 teaspoon water. Cook, stirring (and mashing) occasionally, until berries are soft and have released their juice. Strain the juice into a small cup. Reserve the mashed berries for another use, like a smoothie or ice cream topping.
  9. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl and add huckleberry juice while stirring, until it creates a thin glaze. Roll warm doughnut drops in glaze and place on waxed paper or a cooling rack to dry.

 

Beat the liquid ingredients until frothy.

Beat the liquid ingredients until frothy.

Add berries to dry ingredients, then add liquids. Don't over-mix!

Add berries to dry ingredients, then add liquids. Don’t over-mix!

Use a scoop and drop it like it's hot!

Use a scoop and drop it like it’s hot!

Keep the temperature steady and let them get nice and brown on the outside.

Keep the temperature steady and let them get nice and brown on the outside.

 

Betcha can't eat just one!

Betcha can’t eat just one!

Bear Farts from The Rowdy Baker

Summer is waning, but I think I have a few more recipes in me before we all embrace the pumpkin and pecan frenzy. Peaches and plums, then pears and apples…lots of fun seasonal foods are still calling to me, and I’ll share!

Lorinda

No-Bake S’mores Cheesecake

No bake s'mores cheesecake - The Rowdy BakerWith grandchildren here for their summer visit, all thoughts have turned to s’mores. Cheesecake was our plan for their mom’s birthday, so you can guess what flavor we chose!

We made a large cheesecake with a graham cracker crust, a layer of chocolate cheesecake, a layer of chocolate ganache, and a layer of marshmallow cheesecake…and then decorated around the top with whipped cream and ganache rosettes.

I totally stole this photo collage from my daughter. Thank you, Brenna!

I totally stole this photo collage from my daughter. Thank you, Brenna!

 

When I say “we”, I really mean it. The girls are getting old enough to not only help, but practically take over. It’s gotten past the grit my teeth and try not to meddle stage; now I feel more like a conductor with a very talented and capable orchestra. Oh, and the beautiful blue nails in the picture? Those are 12-year old Sophie’s, not mine! (They’d be a little impractical for me in the garden.)

My daughter loved the dessert, and so did we. I especially liked the fluffy marshmallow layer, and would probably double that part of the recipe next time. There was enough room to fit it into the pan, and it deserved equal billing with the chocolate layer in my opinion.

Hints:

  • I used a 10-inch springform pan. Use a 9-inch pan, if you prefer. There’s room for all of the layers, but your decorations will just be on top instead of nestled into the crumb sides.
  • If you love marshmallows, you could add another handful to the melted marshmallow mixture before combining with the cream cheese.
No-Bake S'mores Cheesecake
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3 layers of goodness - chocolate cheesecake, ganache, and marshmallow cheesecake - make this a luscious (yet not too rich or heavy) dessert that will easily serve 10-12.
Ingredients
  • CRUST:
  • 2 cups finely-ground graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE:
  • 1½ cups chocolate chips
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups non-dairy whipped topping
  • GANACHE:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 10 ounces good quality dark chocolate
  • MARSHMALLOW CHEESECAKE:
  • 6 ounces mini-marshmallows
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, divided
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 cup non-dairy whipped topping
Instructions
  1. CRUST - baked or no-baked options given.
  2. Baked (my favorite method): Heat oven to 325 F. Lightly spray 10-inch springform pan with an oil/flour spray like Baker's Joy. Place pan on baking sheet.
  3. Combine 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, ½ cup melted butter, and ¼ cup brown sugar. Press very firmly into pan, using fingers or straight sided measuring cup. Bake for 10 minutes. Move to rack to cool.
  4. No-bake crust: Prepare crust as described, but instead of baking, place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before adding filling.
  5. CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE LAYER:
  6. Melt chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 15 seconds until completely melted, or in small pan over lowest heat possible, stirring often. Set aside to cool slightly.
  7. In a large bowl, combine 12 ounces cream cheese, ½ cup sugar, and ¼ cup softened butter. Beat well.
  8. Add ¼ cup cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon vanilla, and beat until combined.
  9. Gradually add melted chocolate, beating until incorporated.
  10. Gently fold in 2 cups whipped topping. Spread evenly over prepared crust. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  11. While the cheesecake is chilling, prepare the ganache.
  12. GANACHE:
  13. Chop the 10 ounces of dark chocolate finely and place in a small bowl.
  14. In a small pan, heat 1 cup cream until it bubbles around the edges...almost to a boil. Remove from heat.
  15. Pour half of the hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit without stirring for a few minutes - this will begin melting the chocolate..Stir gently.
  16. Re-heat the remaining cream and pour over chocolate mixture. Allow to sit a few minutes more, then stir gently until smooth.
  17. Pour half of the ganache over the chocolate layer in the pan and return the cheesecake to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Put a piece of plastic wrap over the remaining ganache and set aside, stirring occasionally.
  18. MARSHMALLOW CHEESECAKE LAYER:
  19. In a small pan on low heat, stir together 6 ounces of marshmallows and ⅓ cup cream, Remove from heat before the marshmallows are completely melted, to leave little bites of marshmallows in the cheesecake. (If you prefer a smooth layer, stir until completely melted.) Allow to cool slightly.
  20. In medium bowl, beat together 8 ounces cream cheese, ¼ cup powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon cream. Add the marshmallow mixture and stir until combined.
  21. Fold in 1 cup of whipped topping and spread the mixture over the ganache layer in the pan.
  22. Chill for several hours - overnight is even better! At any point during this chilling time, you can decorate your cheesecake:
  23. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip and pipe simple rosettes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze for at least 1 hour.
  24. Decorate cheesecake with whipped cream, ganache rosettes, graham crackers, or cracker crumbs.
  25. Remove the springform pan ring and serve!
Press the crust into the pan very firmly.

Press the crust into the pan very firmly.

Spread the chocolate cheesecake layer evenly.

Spread the chocolate cheesecake layer evenly.

Between the chocolate layer and this lovely marshmallow layer was a layer of ganache...but we forgot to take a photo.

Between the chocolate layer and this lovely marshmallow layer was a layer of ganache…but we forgot to take a photo.

Sophie, piping out pretty ganache decorations.

Sophie, piping out pretty ganache decorations.

Sigh. My family has left, slowly working their way back to California. Things are quiet here – and I think I’m through with all things s’mores. At least until next summer!

Lorinda

 

 

 

Triple Chocolate S’mores Brownies

Triple Chocolate S'mores Brownies - The Rowdy BakerDeep, dark fudge brownies with a crumbly graham crust and chewy marshmallow topping are a dream come true for s’mores fans. They’re great for a crowd, because once the brownies have cooled down, the marshmallow turns from gooey to chewy, and won’t stick to a cover, so you can transport them easily to a picnic, potluck, or party.

I didn’t allow myself to Google s’mores brownies until I was writing this blog; sometimes it’s discouraging to see how many people have had the same exact idea!  And yes…this has been done and done and done. Sigh. But…it hasn’t been done by me before, and the idea of a brownie with a graham cracker crust really called to me. Guess I’m just jumping on the bandwagon with this one!

They’re easy to make and are hand stirred in one pot, so even I didn’t manage to make much of a mess – which was a very important criterion right now, since my kitchen is torn apart (getting a much-needed update) and I needed something to take to book club.

Trust me, when you’re washing dishes bent over the bathtub, you weigh the importance of using each bowl and utensil!Triple Chocolate S'mores Brownies from The Rowdy Baker

Makes 24 large brownies. You may notice that these probably won’t be on the “approved” list of most diets. Suck it up – they’re worth every calorie!

Triple Chocolate S'mores Brownies
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Makes 24 large, thick brownies.
Ingredients
  • GRAHAM CRUST:
  • 1¼ cups finely crushed graham crackers (9 double crackers) ...more for decorating if desired
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • BROWNIES:
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter (or 2¼ sticks)
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ cup special dark unsweetened cocoa
  • 1½ cups mini chocolate chips (divided)
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan and line with parchment. (The grease will hold the parchment in place.) Spray parchment with a flour/oil baking spray like Baker's Joy.
  2. Combine graham cracker crumbs with ¼ cup melted butter and brown sugar. Press evenly into prepared pan.
  3. In a large pot, melt the butter. Remove from heat and add the sugar. Stir until well combined.
  4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, beat the eggs and vanilla until frothy. Add to pot and stir well.
  5. Add both kinds of cocoa, ½ cup of mini chocolate chips, flour, soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir JUST until combined. (A few streaks of flour showing is fine.)
  6. Drop spoonfuls of dough evenly over crust and smooth gently with an offset spatula, being careful not to disturb the crust. Spread close to edges of the pan.
  7. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the brownies comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and place on rack. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of mini chocolate chips. Let the pan sit undisturbed for 5 minutes (chips will be melted - you don't need to spread them) and then top with a single layer of mini marshmallows.
  9. Broil just until the marshmallows are golden brown. DON'T walk away - this goes fast, and you don't want black marshmallows! (They're pretty tasty at a campfire, but not so much on a baked treat.)
  10. Sprinkle with additional crushed graham crackers if desired, and allow brownies to cool in the pan on a rack for at least 30 minutes. Lift out by the parchment and cut into squares. Hint: the longer you wait, the easier they are to cut. If they're sticky and gooey, run a very sharp knife in butter before cutting each row.

Combine sugar and melted butter in large pot.

Combine sugar and melted butter in large pot.

Beat eggs and vanilla together. Stir into mixture.

Beat eggs and vanilla together. Stir into mixture.

Add everything else except for the marshmallows!

Add everything else except for the marshmallows!

Drop globs of batter over crust.

Drop globs of batter over crust.

Spread evenly. (An offset spatula is your friend.)

Spread evenly. (An offset spatula is your friend.)

Pull the brownies from the oven and scatter mini chocolate chips over the top.

Pull the brownies from the oven and scatter mini chocolate chips over the top.

When chocolate is melted, add a layer of marshmallows.

When chocolate is melted, add a layer of marshmallows.

Broil just until golden. Holy crap, it happens fast. Do NOT take your eyes off of the oven!!! Add crushed crackers if you'd like.

Broil just until golden. Holy crap, it happens fast. Do NOT take your eyes off of the oven!!! Add crushed crackers if you’d like.

Once cooled, slide a very sharp knife through butter and cut into squares. The longer you wait, the easier they are to cut. Of course, mine were VERY gooey because I’m all about instant gratification.

Happy summer!

Lorinda

 

Sausage Breakfast Strudel

Sausage Breakfast Strudel

My passion for baking usually revolves around sugar in some form, but occasionally I’m inspired to make something savory, and this strudel turned into my dream breakfast. Flaky dough surrounds a filling of sausage, cheese, eggs, and onions. Generous slices make a perfect Sunday breakfast!

I’m finding lots of uses for rough puff pastry – my new obsession – but this is my favorite so far. (I’m not tapped out yet, heaven help you.) The dough is much easier to make than traditional puff pastry or strudel dough, and can be made a day ahead, so breakfast will go together quickly. In fact, if you brown the sausage and onions and grate the cheese the night before, all you’ll have to do in the morning is roll out the dough, scramble the eggs, and assemble. Oh…and bake, of course.

The filling can always be modified to your preferences. Add mushrooms, spinach, green peppers, or diced cooked potatoes. More cheese, less cheese, even ham instead of sausage. This lovely dough can encompass any number of pleasant surprises!

Hint: if you’re adding anything juicy, like spinach or green peppers, sprinkle a generous layer of breadcrumbs over the cheese to help soak up excess liquid.

Sausage Breakfast Strudel - The Rowdy Baker

 

Sausage Breakfast Strudel
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This rich, savory breakfast strudel will serve 8. The dough and most of the ingredients can be prepared the night before.
Ingredients
  • DOUGH:
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • ⅔ cup very cold water
  • FILLING:
  • 1 cup grated cheese of your choice (more to taste)
  • 2 pounds breakfast sausage, browned and pressed firmly between paper towels to remove grease.
  • 6 - 8 eggs, loosely scrambled (they will continue to cook in the oven)
  • ½ cup sliced green onions
  • 5 slices provolone cheese
  • ASSEMBLY:
  • ¼ cup melted butter
Instructions
  1. DOUGH:
  2. Cut 1 cup cold butter into pieces approximately 1-inch square.
  3. Place flour on work surface, stir in the salt, and drop the butter onto the flour.
  4. With a bench scraper or metal spatula, chop the butter and flour together until combined. Don't overwork the mixture - you want to see chunks of butter larger than peas.
  5. Begin drizzling the water over the mixture with one hand, while flipping and tossing it with the other. Again, don't over do it! It should be a crumbly mess at this point.Use your metal utensil to form the dough into a rough rectangle about 5"x 8".
  6. Roll out dough to approximately 6"x10", using the metal scraper to form straight edges. Keeping the short edge facing you, Flip the bottom edge up to the middle (it will be crumbly...just do the best you can) and the the top edge down to the bottom. This will create three equal sized layers. Give the dough a turn to the left, lightly flouring the surface if necessary to keep it from sticking, and repeat. Repeat 3 more times. Wrap snugly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Make the filling while the dough chills, OR at this point you can leave the dough in the refrigerator until the next day if you prefer.
  7. ASSEMBLY:
  8. Heat oven to 400 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  9. Remove dough from refrigerator. Using the previous instructions, roll and fold two more times. (If you made the dough the day before, let the dough come to room temperature for 15 minutes first.)
  10. On a floured surface, roll dough as thinly as possible. Aim for 15"x18", with the short side facing you. Don't worry if your measurements aren't exact, but do make sure there's enough flour under the dough to keep it movable.
  11. Drizzle dough with half of the melted butter, spreading lightly with fingers or soft pastry brush.
  12. Beginning 3 inches inside the short edge facing you, and leaving 1 inch bare on either side, sprinkle the grated cheese from across the dough in a wide line.
  13. Cover the cheese in this order: sausage, scrambled eggs, green onions, slices of Provolone.
  14. Using a bench scraper or long metal spatula, lift the edge of dough facing you up and over the filling, as far as possible, and roll to the end.
  15. Pinch both ends and tuck under, pinching again. Carefully lift or slide onto parchment covered baking sheet, with seam side down.
  16. Coat with remaining melted butter and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until strudel is rich golden brown. Allow the strudel to cool for a few minutes before cutting it.

First, make the dough! (Don’t forget – this can be done the day before.)

Flour, salt, and butter - ready to chop-chop!

Flour, salt, and butter – ready to chop-chop!

Roughly chop together. Don't blend in the butter - chunks are what make it flaky!

Roughly chop together. Don’t blend in the butter – chunks are what make it flaky!

Fold like a book, with the open edge to your right. First fold is very rough. If it's pretty, you overworked it. It WILL come together!

Fold like a book, with the open edge to your right. First fold is very rough. If it’s pretty, you overworked it. It WILL come together!

Second fold is a little better

Second fold is a little better

After five folds, the dough is wrapped snugly and refrigerated for 30 minutes (or until the next day, if you’re the plan-ahead type).

Roll out the dough. Coat lightly with melted butter.

Fold two more times, and then roll out the dough. Coat lightly with melted butter.

Spoon sausage over a layer of grated cheese.

Spoon sausage over a layer of grated cheese.

Add scrambled eggs, onion, and slices of Provolone.

Add scrambled eggs, onion, and slices of Provolone.

 

Roll it up!

Roll it up!

Pinch the ends, tuck under, and place on parchment covered pan. Coat with melted butter.

Pinch the ends, tuck under, and place on parchment covered pan. Coat with melted butter.

And BAKE!

And BAKE!

I made this for just the two of us, and ended up freezing a huge portion of this for later. It’s rich and filling, and will easily serve eight people. Oh, and did I mention it’s scrumptious?

It is!

Lorinda

Flags and Flowers Pie Crust

 

Flags and Flowers Cherry Pie - The Rowdy BakerPick a filling, any filling! Cherry, apple…whatever says “Memorial Day” to you. What people will remember is the crust – flaky and delicious, and decorated with flags and flowers, with a star in the center to let steam out.

To have a generous portion of pie crust to work with (think thick, rustic crust and lots of dough to make shapes out of) I doubled my usual recipe.

Flags and Flowers Pie Crust
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A double recipe of pie crust will give you nice thick deep dish crusts, and plenty of extra dough for decorating..
Ingredients
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups shortening (chilled)
  • ½ cup cold milk
  • 2 tablespoons vodka (or vinegar, if you prefer)
Instructions
  1. Prepare your pie filling of choice.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.
  3. Cut shortening into the mixture (using a pastry blender or your fingertips) until there are no lumps bigger than a pea.
  4. Combine milk and vodka and add to the dry ingredients all at once.
  5. Use a fork or rubber spatula to lightly combine. Separate into two balls..
  6. Between two sheets of floured parchment, flatten one of the balls of dough and roll out to a size at least 2 inches bigger all the way around than your pie pan. Add a little flour as needed to keep it from sticking to the parchment. Remove top parchment and, using your pie pan as a guide, cut out a circle approximately 1 inch bigger around than the pie pan. Set aside the scraps for decorations.
  7. Slide a flat baking sheet under the bottom parchment and place your pie pan upside down in the center of the dough. With one hand under the baking sheet and one on the top of the pie pan, flip it over. Remove the baking sheet and gently peel back the parchment. Ease dough into the pan. Place in the refrigerator.
  8. Roll the second ball of dough the same size as the first, between sheets of floured parchment. Remove the top parchment and cut the circle of dough, saving the scraps, Using a cookie cutter, cut a star shape out of the middle. Slide a baking sheet under the bottom parchment and refrigerate while you work on the decorations.
  9. Combine all scraps and roll out thinly between parchment.
  10. Cut out 8 rectangles for flags. With a toothpick make guidelines for stripes and a large square in the upper left hand corner, poked with the toothpick for "stars". With a large sharp knife, cut thin strips to make stripes. Lay them on the rectangles, letting them fall over the edge, and press gently. Trim the excess dough from the sides.
  11. Make roses: Roll a small strip of dough to make the center. Cut round circles and overlap them around the center, pinching the outer edges to make them thin so they'll curl down a bit. Shape with your fingers. Holding the flower right below the petals, pinch off the excess dough from the bottom so the flowers will set neatly on the crust. Make 8 roses.
  12. Heat oven to 375 F.
  13. Remove crusts from the refrigerator.
  14. Fill the bottom crust and cover with the top, keeping the star centered. Crimp the edges.
  15. Arrange flags and roses around the outer edge.
  16. Place a baking sheet under the pie and bake approximately 40 minutes, or until the top crust is a rich golden brown.

Mark lines with toothpick. Add thin strips of dough - let it fall of the sides for now. And crumbly areas can be cleaned with toothpick.

Mark lines with toothpick. Add thin strips of dough – let it fall of the sides for now.

Trim the edges.

Trim the edges.

I neglected to get rose-in-progress photos. But it’s easy, honest! Just roll a little strip of dough for a center. Cut small circles and overlap – pinching the dough on the top to thin it and make it curl nicely. Use your inner artist! Hold the rose loosely in one hand with fingers under the blossom, and pinch off the extra dough so it will sit pretty.

Arrange flags and flowers.

Arrange flags and flowers.

At this point, you could brush the pie with an egg wash, or sprinkle it with sugar – or even colored sugar. You could even paint the stars and stripes with food color. I wanted rustic, so I left it alone.

BAKE!

Flags and Flowers Piecrust from The Rowdy Baker

And of course, you are the kitchen artist here. Make all stars, one large flag, or sculpt an eagle. Use canned pie filling or make your own. Whatever you do, it will be wonderful! Have a good Memorial Day.

Lorinda

Lavender Lime Tea Cakes – and a Bonus Cocktail!

Lavender Lime Tea Cakes, The Rowdy BakerUndecided whether to give readers a recipe that made a whopping 6 dozen tea cakes, or cut the recipe in half and end up with leftover coconut-lime mixture, I came up with the following options:

  • Make a ton of tea cakes. (Hey, they’re small. And light. And irresistible.)
  • Make a half batch and use the leftover coconut and lime mixture on a salad or vegetables.
  • Make a half batch and use the leftover mixture to make a kick-ass cocktail!

I’m pretty sure you know which route I took.

 

Tempting Tropical Fizz - Tthe Rowdy Baker

 

Waste not, want not, right?

So…the recipe will give you approximately 3 dozen dainty, soft, refreshing tea cakes. (Definitely more cake than cookie.) You can double it easily if you’d like, but then you won’t be able to make yourself a Tempting Tropical Fizz. Your call!

Making these cookies will require a couple of special ingredients and a little advance preparation. You will need to thoroughly chill a can of coconut milk so that you can pour out the separated liquid and keep the solids. Try to find coconut milk that is high in fat. If it doesn’t say so on the front, compare the nutritional information on all of your options to pick the one that has a higher fat content. Here’s what you’re looking for:coconut milk

I used lavender sugar in this recipe. I keep a jar of sugar mixed with culinary lavender in my pantry at all times, so my sugar was very flavorful and I just sifted out the lavender buds. (I mix sugar and lavender buds in a mason jar – 1 heaping tablespoon of buds per cup of sugar – and let it sit at least one week.) If you don’t happen to have lavender sugar sitting around, you can blend together one cup of sugar (if you’re doubling the recipe) and two teaspoons of culinary lavender in a blender until the lavender pieces are very fine.

(If you’d like more information about where to buy lavender and how to use it, please visit Sweet Lavender, a column I wrote for Yummy Northwest.)

You’ll find that the subtle flavor of lavender and lime isn’t overwhelming at all; it’s a wonderful combination.

Lavender Lime Tea Cakes - and a Bonus Cocktail!
Print
Author:
Makes 3 dozen tea cakes. This recipe will actually only use half of the coconut milk and lime mixture. (See instructions.) Double the rest of the recipe to avoid leftover mixture, or refrigerate it for another use.
Ingredients
  • 1 can (13.5 oz) CHILLED coconut milk...preferably a brand with a higher fat content.
  • zest and juice from 2 small limes (approximately 2 tablespoons juice).
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup lavender sugar *see instructions
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla ( I used clear vanilla for this, but that's optional)
  • 2½ cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. * To make lavender sugar, either start a week ahead of time and combine ½ cup sugar with 2 teaspoons culinary lavender in an airtight container (sift out the lavender buds before using) OR for immediate use, combine ½ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon culinary lavender in a blender and blend until the lavender is ground into small particles.
  2. Heat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment.
  3. Drain liquid from thoroughly chilled, canned coconut milk, and reserve for another use if desired. Place coconut solids in a small bowl.
  4. Add lime zest and juice to coconut solids and stir well. Place in refrigerator.
  5. In a large bowl, cream butter and lavender sugar together well.
  6. Add egg, egg white, and vanilla. Mix well.
  7. Remove coconut mixture from the refrigerator and give it a stir. Measure out ½ cup of the mixture and put the rest away for another use.
  8. Add ½ cup of coconut mixture to the bowl, stirring until combined.
  9. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low just until incorporated. Batter will be thick and sticky.
  10. Dough can be scooped using a small cookie scoop or level tablespoon, or you can pipe it with a pastry bag and rosette tip. (The cakes won't hold the shape well, but you will still see design on the top of the baked cakes if you pipe them.)
  11. Bake for 10 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies is turning a golden brown. The top will not brown.
  12. Remove to a cooling rack, and when the cakes are just barely warm, shake them gently in powdered sugar.

Drain the liquid and keep the solids!

Drain the liquid and keep the solids!

Somewhere between batter and dough. It's soft and sticky!

Somewhere between batter and dough. It’s soft and sticky!

You can scoop...

You can scoop…

Or pipe. Don't expect them to hold the rosette shape, but there will be some design on the top of the baked cakes.

Or pipe. Don’t expect them to hold the rosette shape, but there will be design on the top of the baked cakes.

Only the bottoms should turn golden brown.

Only the bottoms should turn golden brown.

Dust with powdered sugar. (See the shape? These were piped.)

Dust with powdered sugar. (See the shape? These were piped.)

Sooooo, ready for that cocktail yet?

TEMPTING TROPICAL FIZZ

Drop a heaping spoonful of the coconut milk and lime mixture into a glass. Add 1 pineapple slice and about 1/4 cup of pineapple juice (or more to taste). Add clear rum to taste, and top with sparkling mineral water. Give it a quick stir – it should be quite frothy!
I used approximately equal amounts of all 4 ingredients, which made a tart, refreshing drink. If you’d like it to be sweeter, add more pineapple juice or a little simple syrup.

Cheers!

Lorinda

Sour Cream Apple Strudel

Sour Cream Apple Strudel - The Rowdy BakerWhile traditional strudel is fun and challenging to make (all that stretching), by far my favorite strudel to eat is kind of a cross between pie and strudel. The dough is made from “rough puff pastry”, (which is a quick and easy version of the much more complicated puff pastry dough) instead of classic strudel dough.

Compared to store bought puff pastry, rough puff pastry doesn’t puff quite as high, nor does it shatter as easily when you cut or bite into it.  I rolled my dough out very thin, which also reduced the puffiness, so it was the perfect dough to use for this recipe.

I wanted flaky, I wanted delicate, and I wanted just the right crust-to-filling ratio. Easy was a very nice bonus!

If you’re feeling motivated and want to play with stretchy dough, try my companion post, Classic Apple Strudel.

I’ve never been crazy about hot apples, especially when they’re in a sticky sauce like a traditional apple pie. I will, however, fight you for the last slice of Sour Cream Apple Pie, because it’s so mellow and creamy – especially when it’s warm, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

That was the flavor and texture I was shooting for, and was exactly what I got…on my very first try! I added some boozy, rum-soaked raisins and finely chopped pecans, and was thrilled with the results. The normally unflappable Mr. Rowdy was enthused – extremely enthused. He may have even thrown a “WOW WOW WOW!” in there as he inhaled half of the finished product.Bite of Sour Cream Apple Strudel - The Rowdy Baker

Tips:

  • If you want to serve this for breakfast, go ahead and make the dough the night before. Wrapped snugly in plastic, it will be waiting for you to roll it out, fill, and bake. (Let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes or it will be a real bear to roll out!)
  • If you’d like to go for the glory and have even more layers, you can make 4-layer folds by folding each short end into the middle and the folding them together.
    For more layers, you can fold ends to meet in the middle...

    For more layers, you can fold ends to meet in the middle…

    ...then fold together, creating a 4 layer turn

    …then fold together, creating a 4 layer turn

Sour Cream Apple Strudel
Print
Author:
This strudel is made with a quick and easy homemade puff pastry. Filled with apples, sour cream, rum-soaked raisins, and toasted pecans, it will become a family favorite! Serves 8-10.
Ingredients
  • DOUGH:
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • ⅔ cup very cold water
  • *****
  • FILLING:
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup rum (or use apple juice, if desired)
  • 3 large Granny Smith apples
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon (more to taste) cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup toasted pecans (or walnuts), finely chopped
  • ***********
  • ASSEMBLY:
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup plain breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. DOUGH:
  2. Cut 1 cup cold butter into pieces approximately 1-inch square.
  3. Place flour on work surface, stir in the salt, and drop the butter onto the flour.
  4. With a bench scraper or metal spatula, chop the butter and flour together until combined. Don't overwork the mixture - you want to see chunks of butter larger than peas.
  5. Begin drizzling the water over the mixture with one hand, while flipping and tossing it with the other. Again, don't over do it! It should be a crumbly mess at this point.Use your metal utensil to form the dough into a rough rectangle about 5"x 8".
  6. Roll out dough to approximately 6"x10", using the metal scraper to form straight edges. Keeping the short edge facing you, Flip the bottom edge up to the middle (it will be crumbly...just do the best you can) and the the top edge down to the bottom. This will create three equal sized layers. Give the dough a turn to the left, lightly flouring the surface if necessary to keep it from sticking, and repeat. Repeat 3 more times. Wrap snugly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Make filling while the dough chills.
  7. FILLING:
  8. Place raisins in small pan with rum over medium heat. When rum is just beginning to bubble, Remove from heat and let sit uncovered.
  9. Peel and core apples. Cut into eighths and slice thinly crosswise, making small thin pieces. You should have approximately 4 cups.
  10. In a large bowl, combine apples, raisins (including the excess rum) and remaining filling ingredients. Stir until apples are coated.
  11. ASSEMBLY:
  12. Remove dough from refrigerator. Using the previous instructions, roll and fold two more times.
  13. On a floured surface, roll dough as thinly as possible. Aim for 14"x20", with the long side facing you. Don't worry if your measurements aren't exact, but do make sure there's enough flour under the dough to keep it movable.
  14. Brush the surface lightly with melted butter, using a paper towel or pastry brush.
  15. Beginning 2 inches inside the long edge facing you, distribute the bread crumbs in a thick line all the way across, leaving an inch of plain dough on each side.
  16. Pile the apple mixture evenly over the bread crumbs. (The crumbs will help soak up extra moisture.) If your apples were really juicy, you may need to use your judgment and remove a little of the juice from the bowl.
  17. With your scraper or spatula, lift the long edge to cover as much of the apples as possible. Roll the strudel, using the scraper to lift under the dough and inch it along.
  18. Pinch the ends well. Roll the strudel onto a piece of parchment paper, and use the paper to lift the strudel onto a baking sheet. Curve into a half-circle if needed to fit into the pan.
  19. Brush with melted butter and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  20. Heat oven to 400 F.
  21. Bake strudel for approximately 40 minutes, or until rich golden brown.
  22. Remove to a rack and mark the pieces with a serrated knife, just through the top. This will allow a little of the steam to escape and keep it crisp. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Flour, salt, and butter - ready to chop-chop!

Flour, salt, and butter – ready to chop-chop!

Roughly chop together. Don't blend in the butter - small chunks are what make it flaky!

Roughly chop together. Don’t blend in the butter – chunks are what make it flaky!

First fold is pretty rough. If it's pretty, you overworked it. It WILL come together!

First fold is pretty rough. If it’s pretty, you overworked it. It WILL come together!

Second fold is a little better

Second fold is a little better

After five folds and a cold nap, fold two more times and then roll it out nice and thin

After five folds and a cold nap, fold a couple more times and then roll it out nice and thin

Use a scraper or spatula to help roll the dough

Use a scraper or spatula to help roll the dough

Pinch the ends and shape it to fit the pan

Pinch the ends and shape it to fit the pan

Score the baked strudel and let it cool a bit before cutting

Score the baked strudel and let it cool a bit before cutting

Dig in!

Dig in!

Oh, man. You are going to love, love, love this! Eat it while it’s warm, or soon thereafter; it gets a little soft by the second day. Since there is sour cream in the filling, make sure any leftover strudel gets wrapped and put in the fridge.

I’ll leave you with a quote from S.J. Perelman:

“I have no truck with lettuce, cabbage, and similar chlorophyll. Any dietitian will tell you that a running foot of apple strudel contains four times the vitamins of a bushel of beans.”

I’ll buy that!

Lorinda

 

Classic Apple Strudel

Classic Apple Strudel - The Rowdy Baker

 

Are you ready to do this? There will be no frozen puff pastry for this recipe – no sir! We’re going to pull our hair back, put our big white voluminous aprons on, and do it the old-fashioned way today!

I’m warning you, though…I’m going to get pretty wordy, because I learned a lot, failed a lot, and have some ‘splainin’ to do.

The other day, my husband came into the kitchen while I was running the mixer and asked me what I was making. I looked him right in the eye but didn’t say a word. He just whispered: “noooooo”.  Poor man. Uh huh – another strudel. Obsessive, stubborn, tenacious – whatever you want to call me, I simply refuse to let a blob of dough get the best of me.

After being inspired by an apple strudel video on Facebook, I immediately began looking at recipes and videos. I had never made strudel before; in fact, I’m not sure I had even eaten a piece of strudel. But…I had to do this. I was compelled to do this…because it just looked like so much fun.

(Cue the creepy music that always starts when the girl heads down to the basement because she heard a noise, and even though everyone in the room is screaming: “Don’t do it!”, she does anyhow because she just has to.  Yeah, that.)

Seriously, I had a blast stretching the dough and fully expected the beautiful, fragrant, finished pastry to melt in my mouth, but it was…well…kind of tough on the bottom and more like a shell on the top.

I assumed a strudel would be light and flaky, like those frozen toaster strudels. Mine? Not so much.

So I tried:

  1. nuts instead of breadcrumbs when rolling it up.
  2. more butter brushed onto the dough.
  3. butter instead of oil in the dough.
  4. throwing the dough against the counter 100 times as suggested to activate the gluten strands.
  5. chilling the rolled strudel before baking.
  6. A richer dough, using milk and eggs

I tried higher temps, lower temps, letting the dough rest longer before stretching. I finally achieved a modest amount of flakiness (whew) and an enthusiastic response from my guinea pigs book club with the version I’m going to post, but I’ve come to a conclusion: the problem wasn’t with the dough, it was with my expectations. After asking around, I think I highly overestimated how light and delicate strudel should be. I mean, this dough has been mixed, pounded on the counter, and stretched within an inch of its life. It’s gotta be pretty tough to withstand that, right?

Don’t get me wrong, it really is good – very good. If you want to have the fun of stretching out this dough and making a traditional dish, and can promise me you aren’t expecting puff pastry, this recipe is for you!

(Oh, and if you have your heart set on a very light pastry, check out my companion post, Sour Cream Apple Strudel . The dough has a lot more butter in it, and is made with a “rough puff pastry” dough, similar to puff pastry but a little more restrained. You will just miss out on the dough stretching fun.)

A random hint:

You know that moment when you sniff the air and say to yourself: “what am I smelling?” and then you remember you left raisins and rum on the burner and forgot about them? NO?? Well…I do. I suggest you watch the raisins until you see the liquid begin to bubble – then remove the pan and set it aside until completely cool. Because you don’t want to see (or smell) this:

Burnt raisins and wasted rum.

Burnt raisins and wasted rum.

Since I have a nice, sturdy Bosch mixer that can really work the dough, I skipped the recommendations for hand kneading and throwing the dough onto the counter to activate the gluten strands. I figured it got enough of a workout. If you are doing this by hand though, or just want to get your aggression out by manhandling the dough, knock yourself out! It’s kind of fun.

I can’t really credit one recipe – my version is a conglomeration of many that I found. In fact, I tried so many variations that my recipe notes look like THIS!! And this is just the first page. My final conclusion was that the simpler recipes (no egg, no milk) worked better for me, and melted butter in place of the oil gave me the nicest pastry.

Clear as mud

Clear as mud

 

To make an old fashioned strudel, you’ll need a table or kitchen island that you can maneuver around (at least 2’x3′) and a large piece of clean cotton fabric. A sheet works well. You are going to be stretching a tiny ball of dough into a surprisingly large, paper-thin sheet of dough, and the best way to do this is on fabric. When you’re ready to roll it, the fabric will be your best friend. Trust me.

I also tried a different filling just for fun, combining blueberries, lemon, and apples. I’ll share that recipe at the bottom of the post if you’re interested. That’s the strudel the gals at my book club tested and liked. Here’s a mouthwatering photo of it:Blueberry Apple Strudel from The Rowdy Baker

The most important thing I learned during my immersion into all things strudel was this: don’t make a strudel when you’re in a hurry or feeling pressured. Fast, jerky movements create holes in the dough, and while a few holes aren’t a big deal (they won’t show when the strudel is rolled up) it’s better to go to your happy place and take your sweet time. The act of stretching the dough should be a pleasurable experience, not something to be rushed through.

Ready? Here we go!

Classic Apple Strudel
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Author:
This classic strudel is filled with tender apples, rum-soaked raisins, and nuts. Serves 10.
Ingredients
  • DOUGH:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • ⅔ cup room temperature water
  • oil to coat dough
  • ******
  • FILLING:
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup rum (or apple juice)
  • 5 cups of peeled, cored, and chopped Granny Smith Apples
  • 1 small lemon (juice and zest)
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • *****
  • FOR ASSEMBLY:
  • 1½ cup breadcrumbs* (See Instructions)
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped or ground walnuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. DOUGH:
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, butter, and vinegar. Slowly pour in while stirring, until well mixed.
  3. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand for 8 minutes. Dough should be soft and elastic, and slightly tacky. Repeatedly throw the dough against a hard surface for a minute or so to help the gluten develop. Form into a ball, generously coat with oil, and cover with plastic. Allow dough to rest (very important) for 1 hour.
  4. Once dough has rested, combine the chopped apples with lemon in a large bowl and set aside. Cover a table with a clean cotton sheet or tablecloth, and sprinkle with flour. Rub the flour into the fabric. Place dough on cloth and form into a rectangle. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out as thinly as you can.
  5. Using your hands, begin stretching the dough. Work slowly, lifting edges and pulling. Slide your hands under the dough and coax it thinner and thinner. Two people can make this go a lot easier, with both reaching into the middle from opposite sides and easing the dough outwards. The goal is to get a paper thin dough, approximately 24"x30", but I stop when the dough seems consistently thin and small holes are beginning to develop.
  6. Trim the thick edges away with a pizza cutter or scissors, and brush the top of the dough with melted butter. The easiest way I've found is to use a paper towel to lightly spread the butter.
  7. Sprinkle with 1 cup of fine breadcrumbs and ½ cup finely chopped nuts. (Nuts are optional.)
  8. With one of the short sides facing you, pour the remaining bread crumbs from one side to the other, leaving about 2 inches of plain dough closest to you (to help begin the rolling process) and about 1 inch of plain dough on either side .
  9. Add remaining filling ingredients to the apples and spoon evenly over the breadcrumbs.
  10. Using the cloth, lift the plain dough edge over the apples and roll to the end. Roll the strudel onto a piece of parchment, and use this to lift it onto a baking sheet. You may need to give it a curved shape to fit the pan.
  11. Pinch the ends firmly and tuck under the strudel. Brush generously with butter, and put in the refrigerator to chill for 45 minutes. This will let the butter firm up, helping to create flaky layers.
  12. Heat oven to 400 F. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the pastry is a rich golden brown.
  13. Score the top where the strudel will be cut, to allow some of the steam to escape, and sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Cool until just warm, and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
  14. *Breadcrumbs: You can use commercial crumbs, but for more taste, crumble 2 cups of stale bread and toss with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes. Crush into fine crumbs.

The dough is so soft and stretchy after its little nap!

Dough, ready to roll and stretch!

Dough, ready to roll and stretch!

Use a rolling pin to get it as thin as you can before you start stretching. Make sure to rub flour into the cotton fabric on the table.

Roll dough out on floured fabric.

Roll dough out on floured fabric.

Start stretching. Move slowly but don’t be afraid of the dough! I like to use the palms of my hands and sort of “tickle” the dough from the center outwards. You’ll find what works for you. Two people, one on each side of the dough, can really get the job done.

Stretch it very thin!

Stretch it very thin!

Regardless of the size, I stop when I start seeing little holes. Just trim to remove thick edges and get ready to roll!

Ready to fill and roll.

Ready to fill and roll.

Butter the dough gently. A pastry brush is too rough, so I use a piece of paper towel. You can just sprinkle it on too, if you’d like. It’s not critical to cover every inch of the dough – just do the best you can.

I use a paper towel to spread the butter. You can just sprinkle it on if you prefer.

I use a paper towel to spread the butter. You can just sprinkle it on if you prefer.

Now mix together the filling. I chop or slice my apples before rolling, and toss them with the lemon to keep them from browning, but don’t add the sugar until the last minute or you’ll end up with a whole lot of juice.

Mix together the filling ingredients just before rolling.

Mix together the filling ingredients just before rolling.

The butter and the crumbs help define the layers. I tried doing without this step, and it was definitely not as flaky.

Buttered dough, sprinkled with breadcrumbs & nuts. Apple filling is arranged on bed of breadcrumbs.

Buttered dough, sprinkled with breadcrumbs & nuts. Apple filling is arranged on bed of breadcrumbs.

The cloth will help you roll the strudel. this part’s so easy; once you get it started, it just rolls itself!

Use the cloth to lift and roll the strudel.

Use the cloth to lift and roll the strudel.

Coat it with melted butter and put it back in the fridge for 45 minutes. You can skip this step, but chilling the butter between the layers really helps the texture.

Brush the strudel with melted butter

Brush the strudel with melted butter

Once baked, score through the top with a serrated blade to release extra steam. Don’t cut the strudel until it has cooled a bit. It will soften slightly, which is what you want.

Score the baked strudel and let it cool a bit before cutting

Score the baked strudel and let it cool a bit before cutting

Apple Strudel

And now, as if this post wasn’t long enough, I’ll give you instructions for making the blueberry apple filling.

For a thickening agent I used Agar (or agar-agar). If you’ve never used it before, I think you’ll be surprised by how easy and dependable it is.. It produces a slightly gelatin-like result, with no taste or funny texture. Agar is available through most health-food stores and Asian markets, or can be purchased online.

BLUEBERRY APPLE FILLING

4 cups frozen blueberries
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon agar powder (not flakes)
2 cups finely chopped apples
1 cup chopped walnuts

*In a large pan over medium-low heat, stir together the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Heat, stirring often, until berries begin to release juice. Raise heat to medium and bring to a low boil. Sprinkle with agar powder and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
*Remove from heat and stir in apples.
*Once mixture has cooled, stir in the walnuts. Place in the refrigerator until thickened and use as you would apple filling.

NOTE: Don’t be alarmed if it gets very thick and gelatin-like. It will soften and melt once it’s baked in your streudel dough!

Remember that baking should be an adventure. New ideas, new techniques, and new experiences – that’s what it’s all about!
Lorinda

“In the Garden” Triple Berry Pie

Triple Berry Pie from The Rowdy BakerMother’s Day is next month, and I was trying to come up with a motherly theme for a pie crust. If my daughter was making this for me, she’d probably put a wine glass on the crust…but I went with a more traditional garden theme. Figured it was a little more classy.

Playing with dough is my favorite thing to do. The pie crust recipe I use is SO forgiving. You can re-roll it, form little shapes with your fingers, let it stand at room temperature (within reason), and abuse it thoroughly….and it stays flaky. Good stuff!

I will admit that the details on the crust took me a while, so the crust got a little too warm. If I’d thought to chill the pie for a little bit before baking it, the pretty fluted edges would probably have stayed perky, instead of bailing on me. Meh.

If you’d like a similar idea that is less work, here’s a pie I made with just a trellis on it. I made little flowers using gum paste cutters, but you could create them with a sharp knife too.Trellis on pie crust

Use whatever combination of berries you have, fresh or frozen. (Don’t use frozen berries packed in juice or sauce, though!) I had lots of frozen raspberries, maybe a cup of sliced strawberries, and a two cups of frozen blueberries. The combination of flavors is amazing!

Triple Berry Pie - The Rowdy Baker

I like to use instant tapioca as a thickener. It’s clear, tasteless, and never fails me. I grind mine in a clean coffee grinder to avoid chewy spots in the pie. tapiocaThe recipe below has enough dough for a normal two-crust pie. If you plan on adding decorations, double the recipe. (Any extra can be baked and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar…mmmmmm.) I often double the recipe anyhow, since I like a fairly thick crust and find it a lot more manageable than paper-thin pastry. I’m also fairly casual about discarding decorations that don’t please me, so a generous amount of dough is a good thing in my kitchen.

Ready to make some pie? I’ll show you how to make a Triple Berry Pie, then add photos of the decorations, if you’re interested.

Triple Berry Pie
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Author:
This recipe is for a two-crust deep dish pie. If you plan to create pie art, you'll need to double the crust recipe for a generous amount of dough. (You can always freeze some if you don't use it all.)
Ingredients
  • FILLING:
  • 5 cups mixed berries - fresh or frozen (I used raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup instant tapioca, ground finely if possible
  • PIE CRUST:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chilled shortening
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vodka (or you may use vinegar)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 F
  2. FILLING:
  3. In a large bowl, combine the berries, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and tapioca. Stir well and allow mixture to sit while you work on the crust. This will give the tapioca time to soften.
  4. CRUST:
  5. In large bowl, combine flour and salt. Work in shortening with fingers or a pastry blender until there are no large lumps. (Anything the size of a pea or smaller is fine.)
  6. Combine milk and vodka and pour into flour mixture all at once.
  7. Toss the mixture with fork or fingers until it holds together.
  8. Divide into two pieces, with one piece a little bit larger than the other.
  9. Put the larger ball of dough on a floured piece of parchment and flatten into a disk. Dust with flour and lay a second piece of parchment over the dough. Roll out until large enough to cut a circle that is at least 1 inch larger than your pie pan. Remove top parchment and cut dough into circle.
  10. Slide a flat baking sheet under the bottom parchment. Put your pie pan upside down in the center of the dough circle. With one hand under the baking sheet and one hand on the pie pan, flip both over. Remove baking sheet and carefully peel back parchment. Ease dough into the pan.
  11. Fill the pie crust with filling.
  12. Roll out the smaller piece and cut a circle a little bigger than the pie pan. Gently roll onto a rolling pin and lay over the filling. Press the edges together, fold them under, and flute the edges.
  13. Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, then - without opening the oven door - turn the temperature down to 350 F. Bake for additional 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
  14. Move pie to a rack and allow it to cool. If served warm, it will be a little runny. If cooled (or chilled) it will hold its shape when cut.
  15. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Roll between parchment. See how smooth it is when you pull the paper back?

Roll between parchment. See how smooth it is when you pull the paper back?

Cut first crust at least 1 inch larger than the pie pan

Cut first crust at least 1 inch larger than the pie pan

Slide a flat baking sheet under parchment. Center upside down pie pan on dough.

Slide a flat baking sheet under parchment. Center upside down pie pan on dough.

With one hand under baking sheet and one on the pie pan...flip!

With one hand under baking sheet and one on the pie pan (don’t press too hard)…flip!

Without stretching, ease dough into pan.

Without stretching, ease dough into pan.

filling

Add filling

Cut top crust a little bigger than the pie pan. Lift with rolling pin and place over filling. Crimp edges and bake.

Cut top crust a little bigger than the pie pan. Lift with rolling pin and place over filling. Crimp edges and bake.

AND NOW…

If you’re in the mood to play with pie crust, here are a few photos of the construction of the garden crust. Press each piece of dough down lightly as you work. You don’t need liquid – they’ll pretty much stay put. Well, except for the fence rails. I kept bumping the darn things.

Also, don’t get too close to the edge. In retrospect, I should have given myself a little more space for fluting the edge of the pie.

Set your top crust on a generously floured baking sheet or piece of parchment. You will need to slide it off onto the pie when it’s finished. If it gets too soft and warm and won’t slide, pop it in the freezer for a couple of minutes and try again, or if you’re coordinated, slip your hands underneath the crust and move it quickly.

Make the fence. Cut a strip, divide it into "slats", and trim each to a point.

Make the fence. Cut a strip, divide it into “slats”, and trim each to a point.

Birdbath: I cut a shapely pedestal, then two identical ovals.

Birdbath: I cut a shapely pedestal, then two identical ovals.

Lay one oval down, cut center out of second oval, and lay the "rim" over the oval to give it depth.

Lay one oval down, cut center out of second oval, and lay the “rim” over the oval to give it depth.

I added a bird, made by pressing and shaping the dough like clay. Mine may look more like a small turkey…hopefully you have more artistic skills!

I added an arbor, then some thin pieces of dough for vines, and little leaves.

I added an arbor, then some thin pieces of dough for vines, and little leaves.

A toothpick is your friend. It will make a nice crease in the leaves, and help place them.

At this point, I stopped taking photos while I struggled with the teeny tiny roses. I finally just took narrow strips of thin dough about an inch long and rolled them up. Good enough!

Add details. A tree on the right, then I added some clouds in the upper left (use your thumb to press all over so they aren't flat)

Add details. A tree on the right, a birdhouse, then I added some clouds in the upper left (use your thumb to press all over so they aren’t flat)

Use a thin spatula or knife to chop up some grass. It looks best if you place it in little "bunches".

Use a thin spatula or knife to chop up some grass. It looks best if you place it in little “bunches”.

Make little balls of dough and then press down with fingers to flatten them.

Make little balls of dough and then press down with fingers to flatten them.

Lay top crust on filling. Pinch layers together and flute the edges.

Lay top crust on filling. Pinch layers together and flute the edges.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Triple Berry Pie -The Rowdy Baker

 

I know it will hurt to actually take a knife and STAB your masterpiece, but remember: there’s no crying in pie art! It’s just a beginning – there will be many more dough canvases in your future. Think of all the scenic pies you can make for holidays throughout the year.

Have fun with this!

Lorinda