Three Doughs, Endless Possibilities: Old World Mock Strudel

I mentioned in my last post that Grandma Rose’s filled cookies are a bit labor intensive, with a lot of rolling and shaping. The dough gets divided into four parts, and by the time I had rolled and filled the first three parts, I was ready for something new to do with the remaining quarter of dough.

Grandma Rose’s dough is versatile. You can use it for many pastry purposes, but I was particularly keen on using it for making mock strudel.

Mock strudel is another “old world” delicacy that is substitutes flaky pastry dough for strudel dough. My husband’s grandmother used to make a pareve version (and Batmitbach has posted a pareve pastry strudel from her husband’s grandmother).

Many years ago Marrion Burros and Lois Levine published a recipe for this kind of mock strudel in Elegant But Easy (1960). The revised version of this cookbook (1998) also featured Ann Amernick’s variation on this recipe.

The original filling from Elegant But Easy: 6 ounces marmalade, 6 ounces apricot jam, 6 Tbl.  cup brown sugar, 1 Tbl. cinnamon, 1 cup chopped walnuts, and 1/2 cup golden raisins. The jam is spread over 4 pieces of dough, each rolled 6″x10″, the nuts, sugar, cinnamon and raisins are sprinkled over and each pieces is rolled up like a jelly roll and baked whole. It is kind of a cross between rugelach and strudel.

According to Marrion Burros, Ann Amernick’s filling was different because it called for all apricot jam, no brown sugar and lots more cinnamon, nuts, raisins and currant. Ann Amernick has actually published a few different versions of this recipe (I guess she must keep revising it). In all her versions, Ann Amernick adds much, much more filling than the Elegant But Easy version, pulling it away from its similarity to rugelach.

I ended up going with the version that appears in her 1992 book, Special Desserts, but I will explain her more recent versions.

Why did I want to make this strudel and why did I go with Ann Amernick’s version (well, one of her versions)? Well, Ann Amernick is a top-notch pastry chef with many, many years of experience. She worked as Roland Mesnier’s pastry assistant at the White House during the Carter era (she remembers the time they koshered the White House kitchen). She was pastry chef for Jean-Louis Palladin.  Her pastry role models are Gaston Lenotre and Yves Thuries. And she said in an EGullet interview that the one food she cannot resist is this particular strudel. “I love it more than anything,” she said.

Now, THAT is a dessert I have to try.

Mock Strudel
Adapted from Ann Amernick, who calls this Maryland Strudel
. This version of her filling appeared in Special Desserts (1992), but she has revised this recipe (see Notes below). In The Art of the Dessert (2007), she suggests serving this with Manchego cheese and champagne grapes. That sounds elegant, doesn’t it? Manchego is a sheep’s milk cheese, and I see that there is a kosher Manchego style cheese produced in Israel.

This is all about the filling, the mix of nuts and dried fruit. The pastry here takes something of a back seat, certainly compared to Grandma Rose’s filled cookies, which is more about the dough. Next time, I will try Ann Amernick’s most recent version, which adds in currants and dried cranberries and a smaller amount of nuts.

Grandma Rose’s filled cookie dough, divided into 4 portions and chilled overnight (Amernick calls for her dough to just chill for 3 hours, which is probably okay, too)
24 ounces apricot jam
15 ounces golden raisins (5 cups)
15 ounces dark raisins (5 cups)
24 ounces finely chopped walnuts
4 tsp. cinnamon

Work with one piece of dough at a time. Roll each piece out thin (8″x12″ rectangle, about the size of a sheet of paper). Spread on each portion of dough 6 ounces of jam (leaving a 1/2″ border). Sprinkle over the jam 3.75 ounces of golden raisins, 3.75 ounces of dark raisins, 6 ounces of chopped walnuts, and 1 tsp. of cinnamon.

Roll up the dough, tucking in the sides first. Place the rolls seam side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment and chill for 10-15 minutes before baking.

Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes (original recipe said 45-60 minutes, but later versions of this recipe call for baking for only 40-45 minutes. Based on that and my own experience baking this, I wouldn’t go past 45 minutes. The strudels should look light gold.

Ann Amernick calls for slicing these warm, but that didn’t work out so well for me. It worked better for me to freeze the rolls, then slice them, and keep them stored in the freezer. This dessert improves from being frozen. Each loaf yields 10 slices, for a total of 40 slices.

Ann Amernick’s Later Variations on the Filling:

In Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook (2004), Ann Amernick gives the following filling for four strudels:
24 ounces apricot preserves (pureed in food processor)
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
1 1/2 cups dark raisins
1 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
3 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
4 tsp. cinnamon

In The Art of the Dessert (2007), Ann Amernick’s filling for four strudels is:
7.5 ounces dark raisins ( 2 1/2 cups)
7.5 ounces golden raisins (2 1/2 cups)
7.5 ounces currants (2 1/2 cups)
1 cup dried cranberries
24 ounces apricot jam
2 cups walnuts
2 tsp. cinnamon

Grandma Rose’s Filled Cookies Dough
From Grandma Rose, A”H.

8 ounces butter, cut into small pieces
3 Tbl. sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sour cream

Combine the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the butter pieces and cut them into the flour (as you would when making pie crust), until the flour is evenly coated with butter and you can’t see individual chunks of butter anymore. The mixture will look like cornmeal. Add the sour cream and stir it in until a soft dough forms.

Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Place each portion of dough onto its own large-ish piece of parchment paper or waxed paper. Shape each portion of dough into a rough square and flatten to a 1/2″. Wrap up the dough squares in their pieces of paper, place the wrapped dough packages on a sheet pan and stick it in the refrigerator. Chill it overnight.

Roll out one section of dough at a time. Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper (waxed paper is good, too). Flour the surface to prevent sticking, if necessary. You can also use my paternal grandmother’s trick of using powdered sugar to dust the work surface and prevent sticking.

Bonus:  Tzurit Or, who has a bakery called “Tatte” (supposed to be childish pronunciation of Savta), makes a mock strudel with date spread and walnuts. Her recipe for it appears here. Tatte is a Boston based bakery that features baked goods with an Israeli/European spin, like this “old world” mock strudel modernized with Israeli date spread. Her recipes are her spin on her grandmother’s recipes.

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3 Responses to “Three Doughs, Endless Possibilities: Old World Mock Strudel”

  1. Irene Says:

    Thanks SO much for the mention. My mother-in-law will be thrilled!!

    Happy New Year!


  2. Ann Amernick Says:

    I love the time you put into this adaptation. And you’re right, I continue to revise recipes. Not because the older one was incorrect, but because so many things can change the result. I’ve found changes in products, weight of eggs, flour differences and weight as well as the weight of flour different times of the year. I retired 11 years ago and since then I have a “folder” about 4 ½” high with revised recipes. Even a simple thing like almond paste depends on the right product. It’s the difference between success and failure.

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