The older generation of Hungarian women hand-pull a flaky dough for strudel. For a super-easy version, Sarah Copeland uses this tender cream cheese dough.
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter, for brushing
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs
2 cups drained pitted sour cherries (known as morello), packed in light syrup, patted dry
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
How to Make It
In a food processor, combine the cream cheese with the 1 stick of butter, 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, the vanilla and salt and process until smooth. Add the 2 cups of flour and pulse just until a sticky dough forms. Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a rectangle; wrap up the dough and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.
In a spice grinder, pulse the poppy seeds with the remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar until the seeds are just cracked. Transfer the poppy seeds to a small bowl and stir in the bread crumbs.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured work surface, dust the dough with flour. Roll out the dough to an 11-by-15-inch rectangle and carefully transfer it to the prepared baking sheet. Freeze the dough until firm, about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Working on the baking sheet, cut the dough in half crosswise so you have two 11 1/2-by-7 1/2-inch rectangles and brush off any excess flour. Spoon half of the poppy seed mixture in a lengthwise stripe down the middle of each piece of dough, then arrange the cherries on top. Fold one side of the dough up and over the filling and brush with some of the melted butter. Fold the opposite side of the dough up and over the filling and press gently to help it adhere. Cut 4 slits across the top of each strudel and freeze until well-chilled, about 15 minutes.
Bake the 2 strudels in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes, until the crust is browned and the filling is bubbling. Let cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar, slice the strudel and serve.
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