Apple Strudel 101

The earliest Strudel recipe was recorded in 1696 in Vienna. And there is definitely somewhere in my mind that every time I eat strudel I want to be sitting in a cafe in Vienna with Sigmund Freud at the next table. But making Strudel is a whole different story. The pulling of the strudel dough definitely takes me to a drafty kitchen in Hungary. Where the skill of the cook was judged on the cook’s ability to pull the dough to gossamer thinness. What really speaks to me about strudel is that unlike some dishes of the past it crossed all socio-economic divides, everyone made and everyone ate strudel. Strudel adorned the tables of the aristocracy and the peasants. The only barrier to enjoying a perfect strudel at home was skill, as the ingredients were to hand and relatively inexpensive.

My suggestion; don’t be intimidated by the dough pulling process, the only real skill you need is patience.

For the dough:

  • 300g (2 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon) Strong white bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 40g (3 tablespoons) vegetable oil
  • 200g (¾ cup + 1 ½ tablespoons) warm water

For the filling:

  • 75g ( cup) butter or vegan alternative
  • 500g (4 medium) apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 150g (¾ cup) demerara (raw) sugar
  • 100g (1 cup) raisins
  • 100g (1 cup) walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For Assembly:

  • 115g (½ cup) butter or vegan alternative, melted
  • 50g (1 cup) fresh bread crumbs

To serve:

  • 65g (½ cup) icing (powdered) sugar

Whipped cream or Ice cream

  1. Sift together into a large bowl the flour and salt, make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the oil and water. Working from the inside of the well, mix the wet ingredients quickly into the dry ingredients with your fingers or a fork. When all the liquid is incorporated, knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface until it is silky, pliable, and no longer sticky, about 5-7minutes. Pick up the dough and slap it onto the work surface 100 times. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with a damp kitchen towel. Let rest for at least 60 and for up to 120 minutes.
  2. While the dough rests make the filling: In a large saute pan melt the butter or vegan alternative, once melted and foaming add the apples and sweat them for about 5 minutes, add the sugar, raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon and toss together. Take off the heat and allow to cool completely before filling the strudel.
  3. Heat the oven to 180℃ (350℉). Line a baking sheet with baking paper and set aside.
  4. To roll out and stretch strudel dough, have all the filling as well as the assembly ingredients to hand. On a small table that you can walk around, lay a clean patterned cotton tablecloth, very lightly dust it with flour. Roll the dough as thin as possible using a rolling pin. The dough will be soft and responsive to the touch. Remove any rings or bracelets and drape the edges of the dough over the backs of your hands (palms facing down and fingers halfway clenched). Stretch the dough gently at the table, pulling it away from the center and moving your hands apart at the same time. Stretch one section of the dough at a time, and work slowly around the table. Take your time; patience will reward you with a thinner dough. Try not to tear the dough or make holes in it. Stretch the dough into a square or rectangle letting it drape over the edges of the table if it is bigger. You want to stretch the dough to the point where you can see the pattern of the cloth clearly through the dough. Trim the thicker edges of dough with scissors and use the trimmings to patch any holes.
  5. Brush the entire surface of the dough lightly with some of the melted butter or vegan alternative, sprinkle the bread crumbs over the melted butter. Spread the apple filling over the crumbs. Pick up one end of the cloth underneath the strudel with both hands, one on either side, and let the strudel roll slowly over onto itself. Continue to lift the cloth underneath the strudel and let the strudel roll onto itself to the end.
  6. Place the rolled strudel on the prepared baking sheet, curving it into a horseshoe shape. Brush the strudel with the remaining melted butter. Bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating the baking sheet front to back for even browning. Bake until golden brown. Dust the strudel with icing (powdered) sugar as soon as it comes out of the oven.
  7. To serve: Slice on the diagonal and serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Although strudel is best served on the day it is made, you can freeze baked strudel; after thawing, reheat it in a 180℃ (350℉) oven for 15 to 20 minutes.