It is Spring in Northern Michigan finally! And it is German Week at ALDI. What does that mean? It means that I get to sample some more of the German fare imported from Germany. It also means that a few of the posts will not feature home cooked German dishes.
While I am transitioning positions at work and trying to finish my taxes (at the last minute, a gypsy trait) while studying my flash cards and getting the information all jumbled in my head, I will have to cheat and prepare pre-packaged foods. Apologies if this seems unauthentic and not in the spirit of my original intentions.
I think my original intentions, while good, might have been rather narrow in scope. Every meal is not home cooked in Germany. And every home cook is not skilled in all areas of German cuisine and thus, of necessity, must have some help. So the drive to be “authentic” and only cook from scratch might have been a bit too limiting. Also, if I have to only post home cooked items we could run into a severe drought of posts like we had last Summer. We also would not have beautiful pastries to talk about here since I can not make them with the heat in my hands. My mother could make yeast rise sometimes only by looking at the bowl! I have her “hot hands” as well. It is fine for pizza dough. But for delicate layers of pastry I will always have to use a store bought sheet to make layers.
So here I present to you a cheese strudel from Deutsche Küche™. Deutsche Küche™ is the brand of products imported from Germany by ALDI. ALDI is a discount supermarket chain that began in Germany in the 1940s and since has expanded to become a global presence. It should be noted that I am not a paid spokesperson for ALDI or Deutsche Küche™. I am only a huge FAN! There is a slight chance I might get asked not to post things without their approval. One never knows how these companies will react in this era of intellectual property debates. Until I am told not to… I will post. I will post because I can not let you all be deprived of such wonderful tastes. And, if we make more fans, they will sell more product. If they sell more product and the German foods show themselves as popular as the Italian and Asian products they will offer us more products and then maybe some day we will get some truly rare items, like Quark. My motives are completely selfish. Well, not completely.
This strudel has a mild lemon flavor. The lemon is not over powering and it does not leave the customary tang that one gets with so many store bought cheese cakes here in America. There are also a few raisins sprinkled into the mixture. There are not enough raisins to make raisin-haters gag but enough to make a foodie like me happy. The cheese, if I had to guess, is quark. Quark is a farmers soft cheese like the Italian ricotta. This is not ricotta. Ricotta has a grainy texture compared to this strudel’s texture. Ricotta also has a tang that is not present in this cheese. So, by process of elimination, I believe this to be the traditional Quark. It is definitely not like American cream cheese which is very very dense.
One note on the baking instructions. All pastries cook using the steam produced by the wet ingredients (fruits, cheese, etc) to get rise into the pastry. In the baking process the steam evaporates so that the pastry can become crisp. In my experience with a frozen pastry such as this, the more dense the filling the more steam becomes trapped. When steam is trapped in the pastry then only the outer layers will have that flakey, fluffy texture that is desired of a layered pastry such as these. The inside layers will be dense and taste as under cooked as they look. While this photo shows a slight doughy texture of the inner layers, this did not taste under cooked. I have baked the other varieties of fruit strudel from Deutsche Küche™ and did not get a doughy consistency in the interior layers. If you are a stickler for these things then I would suggest raising the baking temperature by 5 degrees and leaving the over door open a crack to let the steam built up in the oven to escape. We did that with the peach pastry in the bakery that I worked in and that seemed to solve the problem with that very dense filling.