M’Hencha Strudel

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INGREDIENTS:

Strudel dough

  • 1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

METHOD:

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary. Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.
  2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
  3. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes – the longer the better. (You could prepare your filling while you wait). [The biggest tip I can give you is to let it rest overnight in the fridge. Take it out of the fridge and give it a quick knead then let it rest again until it gets to room temperature. This gives you a strong but ultra stretchy dough, which means virtually no holes.]
  4. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can. Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.
  5. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it’s about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Moroccan M’Hencha Strudel

M’hencha Filling

  • 400g whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbl orange blossom water*
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 egg yolks

Baklava Breadcrumb Mix

  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 cup hazelnut meal
  • 1/4 fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbl caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

To Finish

  • 1/4 cup (about 100g) of honey warmed in a pan with some finely grated zest of half an orange
  • crushed pistachios or pine nuts to garnish

METHOD:

  1. For the filling, finely ground the almonds, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor. Add orange water, butter and egg yolks and process until it comes together. Chill mixture in the fridge for about an hour.
  2. Combine all the Baklava ingredients in the food processor and process until until finely ground and set aside.
  3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper).
  4. Melt about 100g of butter and spread about 3 tablespoons of it over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the baklava breadcrumb mix.
  5. Spread the M’Hencha filling in a slightly flattened log about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough and the sides.

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  1. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Make a a number of small slits with a knife over the top of the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.
  2. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Brush immediately with the warm honey mixture and scatter with the crushed pistachios or pine nuts. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

* Orange Blossom Water (or Orange Flower Water) is available from Middle Eastern food stores and delicatessens. It can also be substituted with Rose Water if you wish.

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