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I have a recipe for nut strudel, which calls for the following:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 stick butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese.

I have made it twice, and both times the crust is all crumbly and does not roll well. Tastes great but looks like a mess.

Why wouldn't it hold together, and what can I do to fix it?

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2  
and the question is? –  Cos Callis Sep 10 '11 at 17:49
    
I've edited this to be a proper question; however, the recipe is obviously incomplete (no prep instructions and no nuts listed in the ingredients). Including the entire recipe or a reasonably complete summary will improve your odds of getting the right answer. If the recipe is online, you should link to it. –  Aaronut Sep 10 '11 at 20:08
    
Assuming @Aaronut's translation to a question is correct (and it probably is...), what is the temperature of the butter when you mix it with the flour to form the crust? Are you melting the butter? (this would be bad) Are you cutting the butter into small (1/4 pieces)? Is the cream cheese in the crust? –  Cos Callis Sep 10 '11 at 20:48
    
I think the formula lacks water as gluing agent... –  BaffledCook Sep 10 '11 at 21:51
2  
Another possible answer is that 'it went nuts'. –  BaffledCook Sep 10 '11 at 22:54

2 Answers 2

This is not a Strudel recipe. Аs BaffledCook showed with his recipe, a Strudel is made with a phyllo dough (flour and water, usually no egg at all). The dough is then rolled out until it is paper-thin, and the filling is rolled into it. The dough gets a bit hard and flaky after baking, especially if the filling is somewhat dry, but it doesn't fall apart.

The recipe you have is not for a phyllo dough, but for a cheese-oil-dough (German: Quark-Öl-Teig). As you mention nuts, I suspect that the whole dessert is in fact a Nusszopf, one of the more common use cases for a Quark-Öl-Teig. I can see how the butter led the other people here talk about flaking pastry, but in fact this type of dough isn't supposed to be a flaky pastry, and it is normally made with a neutral vegetable oil, not with butter. If it falls apart, this means that you used too much fat and not enough water, which is probably due to both the ratio and the substitutions.

First, there is the problem of cream cheese. It is not exactly the same thing as quark, and it has a very high fat percentage, I think about 75% of the dry matter. Quark is available in three fat types, with 10%, 20% or 40% fat of the dry matter. So the first thing I'd do is to use another substitution. If you have a Russian market around you, ask for tvorog. Else try ricotta (if there is some whey in the package, don't throw it away, use it in the dough). Both are drier than quark, so maybe you can add some milk to them (my gut feeling says 20:80 milk:cheese). If you want to stay with cream cheese, you probably can do it, but you'll have to calculate how much additional fat you have and then reduce the amount of oil you use.

The second point is the fat. Your recipe says butter, but you'll improve the plasticity of your dough with a liquid oil. Use a neutral-tasting vegetable oil.

Third, I have no idea how much a stick of butter is, but as you have all the symptoms of too much fat, your recipe probably has too much. The ratio of good quark-öl-teig is 4 parts flour, 2 parts quark, 1 part oil (measured by weight!). It also incorporates some liquid (milk or egg or water, just 1-2 tbsp) and backpulver. If you don't want to go fancy, you just roll it out at maybe 1.5 cm thickness, cover with the nuts mass, roll, and bake. There are advanced braiding techniques too, but they don't affect the taste much.

The texture of the baked Nusszopf is similar to some cakes, but somewhat harder and crispier. Here a picture of what it looks like (the dark parts are the nut mass):

nusszopf

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A stick of butter is usually 8 tbsp / 1/2 cup. –  Aaronut Sep 11 '11 at 15:56

As commented above, your formula lacks 'water'. A German recipe calls for:

  • 250 g Mehl (flour)
  • 125 ml Wasser, lauwarm (lukewarm water)
  • 1 Ei(er) (Größe M) (Big M egg - whatever that means)
  • 1 EL Öl (one spoon oil)
  • 1 Prise Salz (a bit of salt)

The recipe uses the oil to coat the dough while resting, and the egg to brown the dough in the oven.

The butter is used in the filling to coat the dough from the inside (you put the rest of the ingredients on top).

Edit As Cos indicated, maybe the technique you are using is off. If you work the butter-flour fast and cold, the pastry will be flaky. That is because the flour coats the butter fragments, but the butter doesn't melt.

If you 'work' the dough with your hands, it gets warmer, the butter melts and gets integrated with the flour. This way the dough will become flexible and the pastry will not be flaky. So, there you have it. Work the dough with your hands until you get a smooth and probably sticky dough.

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Water is not a neccessity for such a crust. Here is an example of a pie crust recipe that only uses butter, cream cheese and flour. busycooks.about.com/od/piecrustrecipes/r/creamcheepastry.htm It is one more stick of butter than OP uses, but the ingredients are likely fine, this is probably a matter of technique. –  Cos Callis Sep 10 '11 at 22:12
    
@CosCallis, you're probably right. In the end cream cheese and butter contain water... –  BaffledCook Sep 10 '11 at 22:53
    
Eggs are normed in the European Union. 1 Ei Größe M means an egg size M, or 53-63 g, which is a very common size. (The size is given on the package, so the customer can decide which size to buy). –  rumtscho Sep 11 '11 at 11:12
    
@rumtscho, You're right, I was reading it wrong. I read egg big M. M is medium size so it got my mind spinning in the wrong direction. LOL. –  BaffledCook Sep 11 '11 at 13:47

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