Last summer I discover the amazing time-warp and eternal pit of distraction that is Pinterest. Seriously, I probably spent my first few days of Pinterest bliss holed up in my living room pinning enough recipes to last me the rest of my life. During that pinning frenzy, I pinned a number of peach recipes that I vowed to make during peach season last year. Peach season came… and passed… and about halfway into December when you can’t even find peaches here and if you could they’d be rock hard and frozen, I stumbled across my peach recipes buried about a mile deep on my Pinterest board. Oops… So as I was Skyping with my grandfather last week, asking him how his garden was coming along and what kind of amazing produce he had this year, he mentioned that we’re now into the height of peach season in Oregon. And suddenly I remembered… PEACHES!
Rustic Braided Peach Strudel
Yields one braided strudel with about 8 servings
For the strudel:
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks (~226 grams) cold butter
For the peach filling:
3 ripe medium-size peaches
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2-3 tbsp. all purpose flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1-2 tbsp. granulated sugar for dusting the top
This is one of those recipes that require one of my precursory warnings about how long this takes to make. That’s not to say it’s difficult or that you should be discouraged from making it, but rather, I hate getting my heart set on a recipe only to read through the instructions after I get all the ingredients only to find out it takes multiple hours to be ready. I know, maybe I should start reading ahead… But for those of you that are bad about that like I am, consider yourselves warned.
Start by forming your butter into a rectangular slab a few centimeters thick. There are multiple ways you can do this, but I’m personally a fan of grating it and pressing it back together, a wonderful idea from the gal over at Top with Cinnamon. Once you’ve got your rectangle of butter, set it in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes so it’s nice and firm again. In the meantime, combine the flour, sugar, and milk for the strudel in a medium-size bowl. If you have a kitchen machine this is an awesome time to break it out and knead the dough using your dough hook. If not, you can easily do it by hand. Either way, knead the dough until all ingredients are combined and it’s no longer sticky, about a good five minutes or so. If it’s still sticky after all that kneading, add a little flour until it reaches the right consistency (you should easily be able to pull your hand away from the dough without any sticking). Roll your dough out so it’s just a little larger than the rectangle of butter, and place it so the corners of the butter are just about in the middle of each side of the dough. Fold the dough over the butter making sure it’s completely covered, and roll out your dough to a couple of centimeters thick (be careful to make sure you don’t get it too thin, otherwise the butter can break through). Fold it into thirds and refrigerate for 45 minutes. Repeat this rolling, folding, and resting process twice more.
While you’re waiting for the dough to rest, you can go ahead and mix up the filling. Slice the peaches thinly and combine with the rest of the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Depending on how ripe and/or sweet you’re peaches are, you may want to use more or less sugar. Mine were pretty tart so I aired on the side of more. And depending on how juicy they are, you may want to use more or less flour to keep the filling from getting too watery. Once the dough is ready, roll it out into a rectangle about a 1/4″ thick, and spoon the filling into the middle leaving a 1/2″ of space at each end. Fold the ends over the filling and cut the sides at a 45 degree angle to the filling to form 1″ wide strips. “Braid” the sides by folding one strip over the other until you’ve worked your way all the way down the strudel and tucked any loose ends over the edge. You can also use any leftover dough you may have clipped before braiding to add strips to the top of the pastry if your braid doesn’t go up high enough to look uniform. Lightly dust the top with granulated sugar and bake at 350* Fahrenheit (175* Celsius) for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.