Spend this Beltane indulging your inner kitchen witch! This recipe for cherry bourbon strudel blends the luscious, warm flavor of Kentucky bourbon with tart cherry preserves. Serve them for cakes & ale on Beltane or pack them up for a picnic in the soft spring sun.
Meaning and Symbolism of Ingredients
During the season between Beltane and Litha, the Veil Between Worlds thins. The spirits of woodlands slip out from behind this curtain to play their instruments in the orchestral symphony of summer.
Fireflies, late spring breezes and the sounds of the forest come alive at this time. Think of the “fae” or “faeries” not so much as literal beings who wander these lands in secret, but as a metaphor for the collective magic of the living, breathing spirit of the woodlands.
Whiskey in general is a legendary favorite of the fae. Its inclusion in this recipe are a wink to them.
But the specific choice of Kentucky bourbon whiskey is a nod to my Appalachian heritage. I enjoy including motifs from my cultural roots, and I encourage you to do the same!
Choose whatever type of whiskey you prefer, but select a high quality whiskey. Never cook with spirits you wouldn’t drink!
The cherries in this recipe symbolize fertility, passion and the blood of the goddess. Their richly sweet flavor embodies the sense of joy and sensual pleasure for its own sake that typifies the Beltane season.
Sugar Cream Frosting
In witchcraft, cream symbolizes new life, purity, beauty, fertility, abundance and nourishment—-all key aspects of Beltane.
Sugar sweetens any fading crankiness of Old Mother Winter and renews a sense of innocent hope.
Every aspect of this recipe vibrates with meaning.
Even the dominant colors of red and white reflect the symbolic colors of Beltane. (Side note: I love color theming food for Sabbats! It’s a fun way to challenge yourself and think outside the box).
You Will Need:
For the filling.
-1 cup tart cherry preserves
-3/4 tablespoon bourbon (or other whiskey)
-juice from 1/2 lemon
For the crust.
-3 cups all-purpose flour
-2 sticks cold butter
-1/2 cup ICE COLD water
-1 egg (For egg wash only!! Do not add this to crust mixture please!)
For the frosting.
-1 cup powdered sugar
-2-3 tablespoons whole milk or heavy whipping cream
Combine salt and flour in a mixing bowl.
Use a pastry cutter or fork to cut butter into the flour/salt mixture.
The key is to keep all the butter in the crust dough as cold as possible until the pastries make it into the oven.
This is the tricky part. Don’t over mix! Just mix to the point that the dough sticks easily to itself.
It’s very important not to let it get to warm. The butter should be visible in chunks in the dough. It helps to run your hands under cold water to avoid melting the butter. If it starts to melt or get too sticky, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes and start again.
Once it sticks easily to itself, form 4 balls and put them in the freezer to rest for 10 minutes.
Pull the dough back out of the freezer. If it’s rock hard, don’t panic. Just give it a few minutes to soften back up.
Roll out each ball on a flat surface until they’re flat and about 1/4 inch in thickness. If it starts to melt or get too sticky, put it back in the freezer for a few minutes.
I know, I know. It’s tedious, but the perfect, flaky crust will be worth it.
Cut out rectangles from the flat dough. You can use a pattern from cardboard, or just eyeball it.
Spoon cherry/bourbon/lemon juice filling onto one rectangle at a time.
Here’s the trick for this step.
When “sandwiching” the top half of the strudel onto the bottom, curve it slightly lengthwise so that there’s plenty of room to accommodate the filling.
Press a fork pattern into the edges to seal it up.
Then, slash horizontal cuts into the pastry to ventilate it during the cooking process.
Finally, beat the egg and brush the tops of the pastries with an egg wash. This creates a lovely sheen on the top
Bake at 350 degrees for 18-25 minutes (checking every 2 minutes after the 18-minute mark). Bake until golden brown on the edges.
While the strudels are baking, make the icing. Add the cream or milk in intervals of one tablespoon until it flows off the spoon, but not completely. This is what you’re looking for:
Allow the pastries to cool completely before icing.
Ice by dripping the frosting in a zigzag pattern over the pastry. Don’t worry it it’s messy. Messy is good!