Baking under duress or Mr. Wii and the strudel factory

Okay, so Mr. Wii takes me the Mexican restaurant, again. The dent in the seat exactly matches my butt. My guys at the restaurant must have been talking to the guys over at the Chinese restaurant. Both places are seating us at the same table each and every time we show up at their eating establishments. The entire world knows I am in a slump, have cooker’s block, and that I am suffering from the kitchen yips. Is nothing sacred? Must the whole world know? Word travels fast in the foodie world.

Back to my story. Mr. Wii has been wanting apple strudel. After dinner, we didn’t go directly home to put on our winter lounging wear. He didn’t turn down our street, he kept going straight until we ended up in the Vegas-lit parking lot of my favorite grocery store. I do believe he was toying with my food emotions. Did I want to wait in the car? Heck no, this was my territory…and he knew it. The man is shameless.
He knew we always needed a couple of things from the grocery store since there is a never ending grocery list on the counter at all times. Plus, we had another discussion, and I do use the term lightly, about the apple strudel. He was telling me again about this business trip to Minnesota or Wisconsin or some other cold state that makes great pastries and the freshly made strudel that was on the conference table and how small the pieces of strudel were. Small enough that you didn’t need a fork. Bite sized, and he wondered how in the world could they make a strudel that small. Oh that man. He knew how to play me like a brand new apple peeler on the day after Christmas. First, he drove me to my favorite store, then, he threw a cooking challenge out to me. He showed me no mercy. The man is shameless.

There was no way in hell I was going to make strudel dough at seven in the evening. I also knew I was not going to get out of this one with a cold oven. Mr. Wii was winning. We picked up some puff pastry dough, apples, and vanilla wafers. I was on the road to strudelville whether I liked it or not and there was no turning back.

I’m no stranger to puff pastry but I had never made a strudel with store bought puff pastry before. It was to be the night of surprises. Mr. Wii couldn’t get the grocery bags unloaded fast enough. The puff pastry was frozen and needed about forty minutes to thaw. He then got the brand new apple peeler out and began to peel apples while I fired up the oven, squeezed a lemon, melted butter, crushed vanilla wafers, measured out the dry ingredients, and made a bit of icing. We still had more thaw time.
In one corner of the sitting room he played games on his new DS and in the other corner I was catching up on my food blog reading. Actually, that sounded so much better than what I was really doing. I was really surfing the net looking for a food therapist in my neck of the woods………..for Mr. Wii!!!! Did you know there is no such thing as a food therapist? There should be, he needs one.

The dough was finally thawed…let the assembly begin. I rolled the dough as thin as I could and made two small strudels, as Mr. Wii watched closely. He was starting to show some fear. It had just occurred to him that I was baking under duress. He knew, from past cooking attempts, that when I did not cook with love, the food sucked big time. He asked me if I had any food love left to add to the strudel. I told him I really didn’t know and we would just have to find out. It baked for an hour, cooled off, was iced, and then, it was ready to eat. Mr. Wii did not even get the first piece. I did. Oh my, was it ever good. It was way good. It was better than it should have been since it had been made under duress. Mr. Wii cut a piece and took his first bite. He had the look of sheer relief as he smiled, nodded, and made those “good food noises”. It was a good thing.

Before we tucked in for the night, he told me he was going to have strudel with coffee in the morning, have it for a snack in the afternoon, and that he would also have a piece with a glass of milk before he went to bed tomorrow night. He said he would probably eat both strudels in a handful of days. I’ll let you know exactly how long it lasted. Oh yeah, he loves me too. The man is shameless.

Since strudel dough is a dough that requires someone to show you the technique in person and I am not going to everybodys kitchen at nine o’clock at night for a round of midnight strudel, I will adapt my recipe to use the store bought puff pastry dough. I hope you enjoy this at least as much as we did.

Quick Apple Strudel
1 box of frozen puff pastry (two sheets), thawed to room temperature
some flour for rolling out the pastry

3 cups chopped apples which have been peeled

juice of one lemon

1/2 cup melted butter plus a bit more for basting the strudel

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup crushed vanilla wafers

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup of your favorite icing for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove pastry dough from box and let set on a cooling rack to thaw.

In a bowl, pour lemon juice over the chopped apples and mix it to coat all the apples. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla wafers, and cinnamon. Set both bowls aside.

Roll the pastry dough out on the counter with a little flour so that it doesn’t stick. Roll it out until it is about half as thick as it originally was. Repeat with the other piece of dough.

Using half of each mixture on each piece of dough do the following:

Brush the entire surface with the melted butter. Sprinkle the sugar, vanilla wafer, cinnamon mixture over the entire surface. About 2 inches from the shorter edge, arrange the apples in a row, the entire width of the pastry. Do not cover the entire surface like you did the butter and sugar mixture. You just want to have a thick row of apples. This is where you start rolling. Take the 2 inch space and flip it over the apples. Keep rolling, much like a sushi roll without the mat, until you get to the end. You will have to lift the the apple roll a bit as you roll. Tuck in the ends and lay it on a greased baking sheet in a horseshoe shape. Baste with the extra melted butter until the entire surface is basted. Bake for one hour until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely before taking off the baking sheet. Drizzle with icing, serve to the hungry masses.
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