Sunday, September 25, 2011

Grandma Bacholz’s Nut Strudel

My husband bragged and bragged about his Grandma Bacholz’s nut strudel. He remembered helping his mom by stirring the nut mixture—forever. I came across the recipe and tried my hand at this old fashioned recipe. There was no indication of how long to cook the nut mixture and I was skeptical about it being all day long like my husband whined about, but nonetheless, I started early.

It had been awhile since I made this. I do recall it did take a long time for the mixture to thicken—and you had to stir constantly. I must have stirred at least three hours… long enough to pull up a chair. (I wondered whether I could stir and write?)

The dough was rather tricky because it was kind of sticky and you had to roll it thin, not thicky (tried to rhyme with tricky and sticky, yeah, doesn't really work). I worried about the outcome (of the dough). We’re talking almost paper thin.

After the strudels had baked and my husband sank his teeth into them, he told me that I was close. Close is not what one wants to hear when they’ve slaved all day to make the perfect nut strudel, but close was better than not so good.

However, it couldn’t have been too bad since he ate two loaves before they even cooled. I’m not kidding. I’d say I was more than close, but memories are funny that way. Nothing ever seems to beat the first time you’ve sank your teeth into something extraordinary. Although the opposite can be true as well—not liking something too much—can put a bad taste in your mouth until you’ve experience otherwise. Yes?

Nut Strudel—make sure you allow the entire day and lots of patience.

5 cups flour
½ cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
3 eggs beaten
½ cup lukewarm water
1 stick butter
2 pkgs yeast

Sift flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. In a saucepan heat milk and butter. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Add to the milk mixture. Combine milk & butter mixture with the dissolved yeast. Beat eggs and add to dry mixture. Beat until smooth and cover and let rise in a warm place.

1 pound ground pecans
¾ cup sugar
1 quart milk
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt
juice and rind of 1 lemon
1 cup raisins (I used currants)
2 eggs

Put ground pecans and milk in large pot. Add salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and stir. Add juice and rind of lemon and stir. Add sugar and raisins and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thick (at least three hours).

Cool mixture and stir in 2 whole eggs.

Split dough into 5 and roll and fill each one separately.

Roll dough to make a very thing round circle and spread with nut mixture. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour.

Cool and wrap in foil and freeze (unless you are eating it right away) as these strudels will mold if left out (and after all that work, you wouldn’t want that to happen). When ready to use, thaw and slice and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Here's the filling mixture in three different stages. You can't really see a lot of difference. It just thickens and you guess when you think it's thick enough or when you've run out of patience stirring.

Here's some shots of the final outcome.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Paula Deen’s Pecan Pie Muffins Made Even Better

Remember when I was making Banana Bread and messed up on those candied pecans that I wanted to add to the bread? And what to do with that concrete blob of pecans. Make Pecan Pie Muffins of course.

This recipe—the original one anyway—is so easy even a cave man can do it. I just had to say that. That commercial bugs me by the way.

Did I ask, do you like pecan pie? If you do, then you will LOVE these muffins even more. Well, at least I do.

Could one make a more rich, melt in your mouth muffin than these? Why yes, when you add chopped up concrete candied pecans. It’s like the gooey butter/sugar/cinnamon mixture that caramelized over the pecans melted into the muffins causing an explosion of gooey goodness. It is so rich that I can only eat one. Really. Paul Deen’s way, I could eat more than one. My way are really, really rich. But really, really good.

So, I wonder. If I’ve modified a recipe, is it my own? What if two parts of the recipe came from two different people and I had combined them, is it my recipe? Well, I didn’t invent it and wouldn’t have without the recipes of the two, so I’ll credit both.

Cream 1 stick softened butter with ¾ cup packed brown sugar. Add 2 beaten eggs and mix well. Add ½ cup flour and stir until combined. Stir in 1 cup candied chopped pecans (see my version below). Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans. Deen’s book said it makes eight, but I make a full dozen. I’ve made these as little mini muffins too and they are just as good. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Deen suggests serving warm with more butter, but I’m telling you that my version does not need any more butter. The muffin pans had butter in them after I took the muffins out of the pan!

Candied Pecans—see What Katie’s Baking. If you read my banana bread blog, you’ll see I modified these pecans, messed them up and tried again. With the messed up pecans, I added them to this Pecan Pie Muffin recipe.

Regular recipe for Candied Pecans:
1 tablespoon butter melted on medium heat in saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon along with 1 cup pecans. Mix until coated and sugar starts to stick. Set aside and cool.

Well, I didn’t think my sugar was going to stick as the sugar/cinnamon mixture seemed crumbly, so I decided to add another tablespoon of butter. After I did that, it was apparent that the butter caused the sugar/cinnamon mixture to come off the pecans, so I added another 2 tablespoons of sugar and another ½ cup pecans. I felt like there was enough cinnamon. I stirred for a good five minutes and when it didn’t look like the mixture was going to stick to the pecans any more than what it was, I dumped them into a bowl. When they cooled, I had one big blog of hard candied sugar/cinnamon pecans—that of which I chopped in my food process and used for these muffins.