Friday, December 15, 2023


Some desserts will forever be classics, and this is one of them. Soft dough, plenty of lemon zest, abundant fruit filling, and a touch of vanilla, for good measure. I find that adding just the right amount of vanilla makes this filling truly taste like the most delicious of candy, making this type of strudel simply perfect for brunch or an after-lunch delight.
If I had to choose between this type of a sweet treat and a cake, this would be my choice every time. I simply adore sweet dough desserts and pastries in general, and this is a treat that is fantastic for picnics, smaller gatherings, as well as lunch boxes. Cooking the filling into a glossy custard allows it to firm up after baking, and the strudel can be sliced into lovely, thin slices, and served with tea or coffee.
Depending on your preference, and the blueberries used in the recipe, it might be a tad too tangy, so I suggest serving it with a dusting of icing sugar, for a nice balance. Or, if you prefer, a thin layer of sweet vanilla icing.

For the soft vanilla dough
400 grams plain flour
180 millilitres warm water
50 light grams brown sugar
25 grams fresh yeast
70 millilitres vegetable oil, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
For the blueberry lemon filling
400 grams blueberries, fresh or defrosted
150 grams light brown sugar
30 millilitres fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
40 grams cornflour
40 millilitres cold water
20 grams vegan block butter
For serving
50 grams icing sugar, optional

Start by making the blueberry filling, as it needs to be somewhat cool when assembling. Place the fruit, sugar, and lemon juice into a large saucepan, and let it macerate for 15-30 minutes. When the fruit is ready, and in the vanilla, and place it over medium-high heat. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the cornflour and the cold water. Once the fruit starts to simmer, start to stir until it comes to a boil, so it doesn’t burn. As soon as it starts to boil, stir in the cornflour mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2-3 minutes, or until thickened and glossy. Remove it from the heat, add in the butter, mix well, and set it aside to cool.
Pour the warm water into a large bowl, add in the sugar, lemon zest, and the vanilla, and mix well. Crumble in the fresh yeast, mix briefly, and then let it dissolve and activate. When the yeast becomes bubbly and fragrant, add in 45 millilitres of oil and the lemon juice, and mix well. Sift in the flour and the salt, and vigorously mix with a wooden spoon until a very soft dough forms. It should not be overly sticky, but if it is, add another tablespoon of flour and mix it in well. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it rise, at room temperature, for about an hour, or until doubled.
Once the dough is ready, transfer it to a floured surface, lightly knead it so it becomes suppler, and roll it out into a large rectangle about 5 millimetres thick. Whisk the cooled filling vigorously to loosen it up, and spread it evenly all over the dough, making sure one of the edges is clean, so the strudel can be sealed nicely. Starting from the longer edge, gently roll the dough into a tight roll. Press and seal the roll really well, so the filling does not leak out during baking. If necessary, moisten the edge of the dough with cold water, so it forms a better seal.
Place the strudel on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment, seam side down, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it rest and rise for about 30 more minutes in a warm place. Just before baking, generously brush it with the reserved vegetable oil, and bake, in a preheated oven, at 200˚C, for about 20 minutes, or until golden. Let it cool down completely, so it firms up, and then slice and serve, with icing sugar, if preferred. Yields 12 servings.

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