Asian Pear & Brie Strudel

Perhaps its no surprise that Asian pears suffer an identity crises. They are often called ‘apple pears’ because of their crisp texture and apple flavor characteristics. Asian pears are a cross between the Ussuri pear and the Japanese Sand pear, having no relation whatsoever to apples.

Some of the Asian pears made their way west with Chinese and Japanese immigrants in the 1850’s. Their shape and taste were modified into fruit like the well known ‘Bartlett’pear. Other pears travelled eastward to Korea and Japan. These ‘Asian’ pears became more like an apple in shape and crisper in texture. Unlike other types of pears, which you want to eat when they have a bit of give to them, ripe Asian pears are firm. Even though they are hard, they still bruise easily, which is why you often see them sporting ‘foam net sweaters’ for protection in the grocery stores.

Since I had a couple of these nice juicy pears on hand as well as some Brie, putting them into strudel seems like a good idea. I’m just going to ‘wing it’ as the saying goes, and combine a few ideas to see what develops. What’s not to love about strudel, right?! 

Print Recipe
Asian Pear & Brie Strudel
Votes: 2
Rating: 4.5
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Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Streusal
Strudel Pastry
Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Streusal
Strudel Pastry
Votes: 2
Rating: 4.5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Pear Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, combine pears, apple juice & maple syrup. Bring to boiling; reduce heat & simmer uncovered about 5 minutes or until pears are tender. Drain pears; add nuts, cherries, brown sugar & apple pie spice. Toss gently until mixed; set aside.
Streusal
  1. In a bowl, stir together flour, oats, sugars, spices & salt until fully combined. Gently stir in melted butter & crumble ingredients together. Set aside
Strudel Pastry
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder & salt. With a pastry blender, cut in cream cheese & shortening until mixture resembles coarse peas. Stir in milk. On a lightly floured work surface, knead dough gently about 20 times. On a sheet of parchment paper, press dough out to a 14"x 14" square & lightly butter pastry.
  2. On another large sheet of parchment paper, spread streusal topping out evenly. Lay pastry, buttered side down over streusal & press down lightly. Lay thinly sliced BRIE cheese over pastry, then top evenly with pear filling. Roll up pastry from the longest side using parchment to do so.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lay filled strudel roll with parchment on a baking sheet. Slice top of strudel part way through at 1" intervals. Remove any excess streusal. Bake about 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove strudel from baking sheet & place on a wire rack. Sprinkle with excess streusal.

Coffeecake with a Twist

Baking with yeast is not everyone’s forte. My mother, on the other hand, seemed to have it down to a science. Of course, since her wonderful bread and baked goods were the ‘norm’ at our house, we took it all for granted. When my older sister married, she and her husband moved to California, USA. Later on, when their first child was born, my mother made a trip to their home by way of the Greyhound bus. It was an interesting experience for all of us.

For mom, to travel that far, alone to be with her daughter and son-in-law. For dad, the rare occasion of being without mom to share all the work and responsibilities of kids and farm. For me, being the second oldest, meant I needed to step up to the plate and help dad with the three younger siblings, etc. I was in my early teens at the time. Dad and I had an ‘agreement’, I could stay home from school two days a week while mom was away. On one to bake bread and the other to wash clothes for the family. For this help dad would let me make the supper menus of my choice as well as making a corresponding grocery list. Without realizing it, I was once again learning those precious ‘life skills’.

In today’s blog recipes, I wanted to make a couple of pastries which normally have been made with yeast dough. There are numerous people experiencing a ‘yeast’ intolerance these days so I decided to make these ‘coffeecakes’ using baking powder instead. I also found using cream cheese in dough makes it very tender and the leftovers taste great, kept in the fridge, for a few days.

The original ‘Bear Claw’ pastry was similar to a Danish, originating in the United States during the mid 1920’s. A bear claw is a sweet, yeast-raised pastry usually filled with almond paste and sometimes had raisins. It is shaped in a semi-circle with slices along the curved edge. As the dough rises, the sections separate evoking the shape of a bear’s toes. In this bear claw coffeecake, your filling choices can be endless.

The ‘Poppy Seed’ pastry is shaped to resemble a flower. This is a nice little showy idea that I believe originated with the Pillsbury company years ago. There again, the filling can be your choice. Brion and I really enjoyed both of these pastries probably a little too much!

Print Recipe
Poppy Seed / Bear Claw Coffeecake
Tender cheese-flavored coffeecake with a design & filling of your choice.
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Coffeecake
'Bear Claw' Filling
Poppy Seed Filling
Glaze
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Coffeecake
'Bear Claw' Filling
Poppy Seed Filling
Glaze
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. With a pastry blender, cut in cream cheese & shortening until mixture resembles coarse peas. Stir in milk. On a lightly floured work surface, knead dough gently 20 times.
  2. To make 'BEAR CLAW' pastry: Place dough on parchment paper. Roll out to a 12" X 8" rectangle, leaving dough on paper , lay on a baking sheet. Spread preserves lengthwise to cover 2/3 of the rectangle; sprinkle with nuts. Fold the third of the rectangle without preserves over the center. Fold over again, making 3 layers of dough and 2 layers of filling. Seal edges. From folded edge cut dough into 1-inch slices to within 1-inch of opposite side; twist strips so that cut side is up. Bake 25 minutes or until golden. Remove coffeecake from baking sheet & allow to cool for 10 minutes. Prepare glaze & drizzle on warm coffeecake.
  3. To make 'POPPY SEED' filling & pastry: I a small saucepan, combine pudding powder, sugar, poppy seed & extract with COLD milk. Stir constantly until it begins to to simmer. Simmer while stirring for 5 minutes; remove from heat & cool slightly.
  4. Divide coffeecake dough into thirds. On a sheet of parchment paper, roll one portion into a 12-inch circle. Transfer paper with circle of dough on it to baking sheet. Divide filling in half & gently spread over pastry to within 1/4" or so of edge then sprinkle with 1/3 of walnuts. On another sheet of parchment paper, roll out second portion of dough. Using parchment paper, carefully lay second circle on top of first layer. Spread with remaining filling & another 1/3 of the walnuts. Roll out remaining dough in a 12-inch circle & place on top. Pinch outer edge to seal.
  5. Place a small glass in center. Cut from outside edge just to glass, forming 16 wedges. Remove glass & twist each wedge five times. Tuck edge under. Sprinkle remaining walnuts over all. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden. Remove coffeecake from baking sheet & allow to cool for 10 minutes. Prepare glaze & drizzle over warm coffeecake.