Week 4 – Pies and Tarts

Argh! My own person Bake-Off challenge has ground to a serious halt. I have been baking but not putting the pictures etc. up on here. So prepare for an onslaught of baking related information. This week I took on the showstopper challenge……or did I? Last year the contestants were asked to make strudel and I was so inspired by the painstakingly slow process of gently stretching out the dough to get lovely thin strudel pastry. To me, this all seemed very similar to the filo pastry challenge but under a different name. If anyone feels strongly that this is incorrect I would love to know why but my interpretation of this challenge meant that I could try out a recipe that I have had my eye on for the last year; Catherine’s strudel from the last series of GBBO.

I modified the reipe slightly using a bit more couscous to make the filling and feta cheese to replace the slipcote cheese. I kind of wish I hadn’t done this because I think the softer cheese would have been nice in the strudel which turned out a bit dry in the middle.

Making the dough was good fun. I used the over the shoulder flinging method to need my pastry and had to remake it after a disaster which saw the first batch sail across my kitchen and land in the bin – could not have done it better if I had tried. The second batch was more successful though and stayed out of the bin. As the dough comes together, it becomes a soft elastic dough that stretches like silly putty. After resting it has to be stretched to the very thin sheet that is used to wrap the dough. This was so much easier than I expected. In fact it was so easy that I made it way too thin and then it was too delicate to manipulate around the dough. I could have read a newspaper through it though. The strudel wasn’t as neat as I had hoped but it made for great picnic fodder when walking around the Brecon Beacons this week. We ate it with plenty of yogurt mixed with chilli sauce to counteract the dry texture of the filling but this went nicely with the strudel. I am no longer scared of making this super thin pastry though and look forward to using it again.

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