My neighbor Karin is from Bavaria in Germany. A little while back, I asked her for some authentic German recipes. She gave me copies from two cookbooks. The first is My Bavarian Cookbook by Alfons Schuhbeck. I selected the recipe for Apple Struedel to try first.
A strudel is a confection of thin pastry rolled up around a fruit filling and baked. I think “thin” is the key element to this dessert. I made the strudel twice. The first time, as you will see below, I stretched the dough thin-ish. The second time, after watching some videos, I stretched it much thinner. Thinner is better in the case of a strudel.
I did not have a German Oma (grandmother) to show me the ways of a strudel. I was reading the cookbook and using my experience in baking to guide my decision making. Oh, how an Oma would have been nice to have here.
In any case, my first trial involved making the dough and the apple filling. This dough is beautiful to work with. It stretches easily, and is so much nicer to work with than pie dough (well it is for me). The apple filling is a mix of granny smith apples, sliced almonds (toasted), raisins soaked in rum, and store bought lady fingers. Cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice are tossed into the mixture.
The dough is rolled out thin and brushed with melted butter. Then the apple mixture is spooned on and the dough is rolled up like a cigar and baked.
The end result was a pretty, but tasteless pastry with a decent chunky apple filling.
I was thinking about how to make this better. Then I watched a video about how to make a strudel and saw that the dough is rolled and cajoled much thinner than I had done. And it is treated a little like Filo dough, in that every layer is brushed with butter. I decided to try the strudel again.
I made the dough same as before. I did not make the apple filling. Instead I bought 2 cans of pre made apple pie filling that was made with Splenda. Why not. Save some calories and effort. I toasted chopped walnuts, and crushed some ladyfingers, and added them to the apple pie filling. I did not add the cinnamon, sugar, or lemon juice.
I used a small tablecloth as my rolling surface. I rolled and stretched the dough as much as I could. Real strudel dough is stretched so that you can read a page through it. I got pretty close. Then I generously brushed the surface with butter.
Next I scooped the apple mixture onto the edge of the dough and using the tablecloth, rolled it up like a cigar. After each roll, I brushed melted butter on top. Finally, I squeezed the ends shut, and in one case, I twisted the end. Before putting into the oven, I sprinkled sugar and cinnamon on top.
Into the oven for 25 minutes.
Out they came looking lightly golden with a flakey crust. The dough was perfect here. It was Filo-like and had a nice sweetness from the added sugar on top.
The apple filling was decent. I don’t know if using the original apple filling would have been an improvement. I would have liked something more flavorful, like cherries or apricots. Maybe I will use one of those next time. And with the apple pie filling, the crushed ladyfingers were unnecessary.
On the whole, I was really happy with the results the second time. And I am glad I took the time to do it again. Without an Oma around, it is always going to take me a little longer to get it right.
Adapted from My Bavarian Cookbook, by Alfons Schuhbeck
makes 12 ounces
10.5 oz (300g) unbleached
4 tbsp safflower oil (or other neutral flavored oil)
1 large egg yolk
5/8 cup (150ml) lukewarm water
flour for work surface
- Sift flour into a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Make a well in the center. Put three tablespoons of oil, lukewarm water, and egg yolk into the well. Knead all of the ingredients either with an electric mixer with dough hooks, or empty ingredients onto the flour board and knead with your hands until the dough is smooth. (To save dish washing, I mixed the ingredients by hand in a bowl and then kneaded the dough in the same bowl.)
- Cut the strudel dough in half, shape into two balls and brush the balls with the remaining oil. Wrap the balls of dough in plastic wrap and let them sit at room temperature for about 1 hour. (Mine sat for over 2 hours and they were fine to use).
8 to 10 servings
For the filling:
8 apples, about 3.1lbs (1.4 kgs)
2.5oz (70g) flaked almonds, toasted
2oz (60g) sugar
1/2 -1 tsp cinnamon powder
2.1oz (60g) raisins soaked in rum
juice from 1 lemon
3.5oz (100g) ladyfingers, crumbled
For the pastry:
12oz (350g) strudel dough
flour for the work surface
1.4oz (40g) melted butter for brushing
1. For the filling: Peel apples and slice down to the core. Dice into .2 to .4 inch (5 to 10mm) cubes. Mix the sugar and cinnamon, add raisins, lemon juice, crushed ladyfingers, and toasted almonds. Mix everything together with the apples.
2. For the pastry: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Sprinkle one of the balls of dough with flour and roll it out on a floured pastry cloth (about 16 x 16 inches/40 x 40 cm) with a rolling pin. Carefully, pull the dough out over the back of the hand to a very thin rectangle and brush with melted butter immediately.
3. Spread half the filling on the long side of the dough in a row. While doing so, leave a 2 inch (5cm) border open on each of the narrow sides and wrap these towards the middle. Roll the strudel together with the help of the cloth, brushing butter on the pastry after each roll. Place the strudel with the seams side down on a greased cookie sheet (I used a silicone baking mat). Prepare the second strudel in the same way. Brush both strudels with melted butter. (Here is where I sprinkled the sugar and cinnamon mixture in the second trial). Bake in the oven on the middle rack for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.
4. Take the strudels out of the oven, leave to cool down and sprinkle with icing sugar before serving. (In my second trial, I did not use the icing sugar after baking, because they already had a sugar and cinnamon coating).