Daring Bakers: Carol Fenster Filo dough, Gluten Free Cardamon Apple Strudel, Blueberry Almond Mint Strudel, and Chebe Pastry Recipe
When I first saw that this month’s Daring Baker Challenge was strudel, I was absolutely thrilled, excited and terrified. I don’t know how familiar you are with the making of strudel, but it involves creating outrageously thin sheets of dough (like filo) that are wrapped around a filling in flaky layers of dough. In an ideal universe, the dough is stretched so thin in becomes transparent. The miraculous ingredient that allows a dough to stretch so thin and yet still be manageable? Gluten, of course. So what is a gluten-free lady to do besides cry over her sorghum? I’ve always felt confident that gluten-free foods can be just as tasty as their gluten equivalent, but even in my most optimistic, I’d never tried making anything to replicate strudel dough. I knew some gluten-free cookbook authors had,though. Rebecca Reilly, in her masterful Gluten-Free Baking had a gluten free filo dough worthy of baklava, and the CIA cookbook (Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America)also includes a gluten free filo dough recipe. I wanted my first attempt to be based on a master gluten-free cookbook recipe, but reports had come in that Reilly’s filo dough was more like a typical pastry. The CIA cookbook recipe called for two complex blends of flours that were only used in small amounts, as well as weird ingredients like powdered egg white and soy flour. I found the powdered egg at Whole Foods for many a pretty penny, but Bob’s Red Mill didn’t have a gluten-free line soy flour and thus I was out of luck there. I also just balked at how complicated the recipe was. Luckily, Carol Fenster also had a apple strudel recipe, inspired no doubt by her travels in Austria, and it wasn’t terribly complicated. Some time ago I received an advance copy of her book1,000 Gluten-Free Recipesand had gotten permission to reprint several recipes. I demonstrated her easy-to-handle pastry in my first video review post, but thought it would be fun to share the strudel pastry recipe as well- providing it turned out to be a good recipe.
Although I am not crazy about the flavor of sorghum in her blend, the dough was extremely easy to work with and I was pleased at how thin I was able to get it and yet still shape it around a hearty apple filling. It also baked up beautifully and kept its shape nicely, although there was some cracking. It was not extremely flaky, but it was an excellent beginning. I filled it with my own version of the apple strudel filling proposed by the Daring Bakers, and didn’t use Carol’s apple filling. The DH pronounced it tasty and enjoyed it. I enjoyed it, but was not sure I would make it again just because the flavor was not exactly what I was hoping for.
My next attempt was based on the Daring Baker recipe, but I used Whole Foods Gluten-free flour (which includes guar gum) and added freshly ground chia seed which acts as a binder much like flax seed. The dough was reasonably easy to work with, but the dark chia seeds and lack of colorant resulted in a pasty dough flecked with chia meal. I made my favorite filling for this pastry dough- a thick, lovely and sweet blueberry filling offset by fresh mint bread crumbs. The filling was a success- and I’d have loved it in a nice gluten-free pastry dough, but the dough was flat and gummy. I wouldn’t make it again, but the blueberry filling will definitely be appearing in pie sometime soon!
My third and final trial was using an old favorite- the gluten-free Chebe mix made from tapioca starch. I thought this would be a good substitute because the tapioca has certain stretchiness that may be slightly similar to gluten. And, it is easy to handle just as the wheat version might be. I have experimented before with Chebe mix as a pastry with excellent results. Unfortunately, for the filling I chose a cherry ricotta-cream cheese filling with black cherry jam which tended to ooze out of the pastry in a highly dramatic fashion. In the second version of this, I found a way to keep the pastry self contained, but I was still dissatisfied with the filling overall (although the fresh cherries were lovely.) The DH loves cherries and seemed very well pleased with the pastry- as I do, he enjoys the slight chewiness of the dough, and the powdered sugar really did compliment the dish. I don’t know if I would call it strudel, exactly- but of all the pastries I tried, I am most likely to make this kind again, with a different filling.
Ultimately, this Daring Baker Challenge was the most disheartening one I’ve participated in yet. I was really forced to acknowledge the limitations of gluten-free flours. Although it is possible to make a perfectly nice pastry, it is very, very hard for the home baker to approximate something like filo dough with gluten-free flour. I’ve heard promising rumors of some european gluten-free puff pastry, produced with amazing equipment no doubt. Unfortunately, such a thing is not available here, yet… so, I’m afraid puff pastry and proper baklava or strudel is out of reach for THIS daring baker, at any rate. I hope my gluten-free peers had more success than I did… and I look forward to seeing their results. Many of the resultant products that I came up with were tasty- I just don’t feel that they were a proper strudel, ultimately…
Curious about how other gluten-free cookbook versions of Strudel stacked up?
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.
Carol Fenster Strudel Recipe
1 cup Carol’s Sorghum Blend
3/4 cup tapioca starch flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 sugar, divided
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon guar gum (*or more xanthan gum)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup shortening (*I used Earth balance, but you could also use spectrum)
1/3 cup 1% milk (non dairy is fine)
1 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice
1 egg, beaten to a foam, for brushing/ OR butter or margarine, melted
*1) Make the dough. Place the dry ingredients and shortening in your food processor and blend. Add milk and vinegar and blend again, letting the dough form a dough. If it doesn’t form a ball, add a little extra liquid until it does. Form into two 1-inch-thick disks, wrap tightly in plastic wrap,and chill 1 hour.
2) Warm one disk in your hand and put on a 15-inch sheet of *wax paper. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and roll it to a 1/8 inch thin rectangle about 10*12 inches.
3) Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F.
4) Make filling of your choice. *MY MODIFICATIONS sprinkle middle of rectangle with seasoned bread crumbs. Then add filling of choice. Turn in ends, and start rolling up into a long cylinder. Carefully lift and roll onto a piece of parchment paper* Transfer the strudel to a 15*10 baking sheet.
6)Bake 30 minutes on the middle rack or until the crust starts to brown. Baste with egg mixture or meltedmargarine and sprinklewith sugar,and return to oven to bake 10 minutes more or until the strudel is completely browned. Cool the strudels on the pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Cut each strudel into 6 slices.Serve warm or at room temperature.
*abbreviated from the cookbook instructions, but essence remains*
Apple Cardamom Streudel Filling
juice from 1/2 lemon
4 medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 tbsp butter or dairy-free margarine (Earth balance etc.)
freshly ground cardamom to taste (1/8 tsp or so)
freshly grated nutmeg (1/8 tsp or less)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 capfuls of vanilla essence (2 scant tsp)
2 tbsp. vanilla sugar (sugar with vanilla bean stored in it)
1 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/4 cup pecans
1 tbsp. organic sugar
sprinkle of salt
1 1/2 tbsp. butter or margarine
Spritz sliced apples with lemon juice in a bowl.
Heat 1 tbsp. butter or margarine in pan and add your apples. Season and sprinkle with sugar as they turn brown, turning as needed. Melt remaining tablespoon of butter in pan and add pecans. Mix together with apples then add last bit of sugar and salt. Remove from pan and reserve.
Melt butter or margarine in pan on medium, add bread crumbs and let brown. Season with cinnamon and vanilla sugar. After 3 or more minutes when bread crumbs are browned, remove from pan and let chill.
Use as filling for gluten-free strudel recipe.
Blueberry Mint Strudel Filling Recipe
4 cups frozen blueberries
2/3 scant cup vanilla sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch, mixed with 1 tbsp. of water
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup almond slices
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
Bring blueberries and sugar to boil in a pan. Then add vanilla and almond slices. Whisk cornstarch and water together in a small dish. Add a little of the blueberry juice from the hot pan into the cornstarch slurry and whisk. Next,add slurry to blueberry mixture in pan and combine thoroughly. Lower heat and let simmer, thickening. If it doesn’t seem thick enough you can add more cornstarch mixed with water or blueberry juice.
Meanwhile, in a cast iron pan melt 1 1/2 tbsp. butter or margarine on medium heat. Add your gluten-free bread crumbs and sautee for 2 minutes or so, then drizzling the vanilla on the bread crumbs and mixing together. Make space in the center of the pan and melt the remaining 1/2 tbsp. butter or margarine, adding the mint to the butter. Let the herb wilts lightly and fold into the bread crumbs. Remove from heat.
Use in gluten-free strudel recipe.
Chebe Strudel Pastry Recipe
1 7.5-ounce package Chebe All-Purpose Gluten-Free Bread Mix
2 large eggs
2 tbsp butter or margarine
5 tbsp milk, liquid milk substitute, or water
Extra butter for basting dough
Combine ingredients from mix through sugar in medium mixing bowl. Stir until ingredients come together, and then knead to form a smooth ball. Refrigerate for one hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375.
Separate dough into two parts. Put one half in a gallon ziploc bag, preferably freezer quality. Sprinkle with sweet rice flour as needed and use rolling pin on TOP of bag to roll dough out inside the bag. When dough is rolled out into one thin sheet, cut out sides and top of bag (where zip portion is). Baste dough with butter and fill as you would any small strudel. Roll into strudel cylinder onto a sheet of parchment paper. Remove to pan and bake for 30 minutes. Turn and bake in increments of ten minutes until dough is browned and crispy and filling is done to taste. Remove from oven, let cool and then cut individual servings, sprinkling with powdered sugar.
Not a traditional dough, but easy to work with and has good flavor.