Strudel dough, also known as phyllo pastry, was brought to Hungary by the Turks in the sixteenth century. Member nations of the Austro-Hungarian Empire each created their own variation; Milchrahmstrudel is a Viennese contribution. A creamy cheese and sour cream filling is baked in a phyllo crust. Part way through the baking process, heated milk is poured over the strudel; as it continues to bake, the milk sets into a topping.
- White Bread - 3/4 pound, day-old, crusts removed; cut into cubes
- Milk - 2 cups
- Unsalted Butter - 12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks), firm but not hard
- Confectioner’s Sugar - 1/3 cup
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Salt - 1/8 teaspoon
- Eggs - 5, separated
- Vanilla Extract - 1/2 teaspoon
- Farmers Cheese - 2 cups (3/4 pound)
- Sour Cream - 3/4 cup
- Golden raisins - 3/4 cup
- Granulated Sugar - 1/3 cup
- Frozen Phyllo Dough - 4 ounces (thawed for 30 minutes)
- Unsalted Butter - 1/4 cup, melted
- Confectioner’s sugar - for dusting
- Creme Anglaise (optional) - 1 cup
- Fresh or stewed fruit (optional)
Put the bread cubes in a large bowl. Pour 1-1/2 cups of milk over the bread cubes, stir together, and let stand while you proceed to the next steps.
In a heavy-duty mixer, combine the butter, confectioner’s sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Beat together until completely creamed, about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and beat for 5 more minutes. Add the soaked bread cubes, farmer’s cheese, sour cream, and raisins. Mix for 3 more minutes.
In a separate bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until the mixture forms soft peaks, about the texture of shaving cream. Carefully fold a large spoonful of spoonful of the beaten egg whites into the cheese mixture, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Unwrap the phyllo dough; keep the unused dough covered with a slightly dampened towel while you are working to keep it from drying out. Butter a 9-by-12-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Line the entire bottom of the dish with phyllo dough sheets, brushing each piece with melted butter. Place overlapping pieces into the dish crosswise so that half of the dough is in the dish and half of the dough is outside the dish. Pour the cheese mixture into the phyllo-lined dish. Fold phyllo from outside the dish over the top, then cover the top with another whole piece of phyllo dough. Brush with remaining melted butter.
Bake 20 minutes. While the strudel is baking, heat the remaining 3/4 cup milk until just below the boiling point. After the strudel has baked 20 minutes, carefully pour the hot milk into the dish. Bake for 40 minutes more, or until the top is set. Remove and let stand 30 minutes before serving.
To serve: Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Cut in individual slices. Serve with creme anglaise and fresh or stewed fruit if desired.