Try a sweet twist on local strawberries
Published 11:08 am Monday, April 18, 2022
Editor’s note: This article originally published in Spring Guide 2022. Copies are available at The Clanton Advertiser office.
By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor
Inspiration can come from a variety of places.
Local strawberries have served as the focal point for several culinary lessons for Jemison High School’s culinary students in the past.
This year, strawberry strudel was the preview of an advanced baking unit the class would be completing.
“I think our class especially likes to bake, instead of cook because you can find us making cakes and cupcakes a lot,” student Alexis Redd said.
Culinary instructor Rachel Rachels said she found a recipe online and altered it so strawberries were truly the star. In Chilton County, strawberries are one of the first fruits that are ready to harvest in spring.
“I wanted something that would be different,” Rachels said.
She commented that the treat would be “a great breakfast bread” or an anytime snack.
The recipe is also basic enough that the filing can be changed to use whatever fruit is in season.
Rachels said she likes the flakiness of the pastry.
Pastry does not have to be intimidating because there is ready to use puff pastry available in the freezer section of the grocery store.
“It is user friendly,” Rachels said. “It is not hard to work with. It makes a really pretty dish, and it is not something that everybody eats all the time, so its special.”
Strips are cut in each long side of the dough to be braided over the top. Rachels said it does not have to be perfect, the main goal is to cover the strawberries. When the dough bakes, it puffs up and creates a pretty pattern.
Student Jaylin Garcia, whose favorite fruit is strawberries, said it was her first time making strudel.
However, she has enjoyed cooking from a young age. She said she wanted to take the culinary classes to learn more techniques.
When choosing strawberries, the darker red the fruit is the sweeter it will be.
Working with strawberries has also served as a history lesson for Rachels as she researched the fruit.
“The Native Americans were eating them before Europeans,” she said. “The Romans used them for medicinal purposes.”
Redd said each strawberry has about 200 seeds.
As the class learns new culinary techniques, Rachels tries to pick projects that will let each of them show off the flavors they enjoy.
“When we do lab, I give them very open ended because I want them to learn to build their own flavor profiles. I don’t teach them just recipes, I teach them techniques so they can come in and work it for whatever way they are using it.”
Hospitality and tourism classes in their freshman and sophomore years serve as a foundation for culinary classes for junior and seniors interested in the program.
“I wanted to be more confident in my cooking skills,” Reed said of why she wanted to join the program. “I think Ms. Rachels did a good job of that because she taught me the extra stuff that you can add to make it your own. Making sweet things — it just makes me so happy.”
Students complete their Serve Safe food manager certificate, and the program is ProStart credit eligible.
Serves 6-8 depending how large the slices are
1 package frozen puff pastry (thawed)
5 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup strawberries (quartered)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 ounce cream cheese
1 teaspoon water (more if needed based on desired consistency)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract in a small bowl.
- Unroll one sheet of puff pastry and lay flat. Cut slits about two inches long down the two long sides of the pastry. Cuts should be parallel to each other. Make sure not to cut all the way across.
- Spread cream cheese mixture down the center of the puff pastry. Place strawberry on top.
- Pull the strips of dough in an alternating braided pattern on top of strawberries.
- Brush with melted butter. Transfer strudel to a buttered baking sheet.
- Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden brown. Remove from sheet and allow pastry to cool slightly.
- Mix all of the glaze ingredients in a small bowl. Pour glaze on top. Slice and serve.