Citizens, Apple strudel (German: Apfelstrudel) is a traditional Viennese strudel, a popular pastry in Austria and in many countries in Europe that once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire (1867–1918).
Lo strudel, štrudla and štrůdl – these are the names given by Austria’s neighbors in Italy, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to this sweet dessert of light pastry and its delicious filling. It is also known as “jabolčni zavitek” in Slovenian and Almásrétes in Hungarian.
However, in English, the only word which has made it into common use is the German “Strudel”. That shows just how famous the Viennese Apfelstrudel has become.
“Strudel” derives from the Middle High German word for “whirlpool” or “eddy”. It refers to the technique and effect of rolling up of a generous fruit filling in a paper thin unleavened dough.
It’s all too easily forgotten that this fine pastry once travelled an extensive route from Arabia via the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, before becoming resident in Vienna. However, the long journey was worth it!
The oldest known strudel recipe is from 1696, a handwritten recipe housed at the Wienbibliothek im Rathaus.
Whether as a type of sweet or savoury layered pastry with a filling inside, the strudel gained popularity in the 18th century through the Habsburg Empire (1278–1780).
Austrian cuisine was formed and influenced by the cuisines of many different people (Turkish, Bosnian, Swiss, Alsatian, French, Dutch, Italian, German, Bohemian–Moravian (Czech), Hungarian, Polish, Croatian, Slovenian, Slovakian, Serbian, and Jewish cuisines) during the many centuries of the Austrian Habsburg Empire’s expansion.
Strudel is related to the Ottoman Empire’s pastry baklava, and came to Austria via Turkish to Hungarian and then Hungarian to Austrian cuisine.
Strudel is most often associated with the Austrian cuisine, but is also a traditional pastry in the whole area formerly belonging to the Austro-Hungarian empire. In these countries, apple strudel is the most widely known kind of strudel.
Apple strudel is considered to be the national dish of Austria along with Wiener Schnitzel and Tafelspitz.
Citizens, my recipe is not easy or for those uncomfortable with pastry – but it is extraordinary and well worth trying! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
For the strudel dough:
1/3 cup lukewarm water (80 ml / 80 g)
1 tablespoon + ½ teaspoon neutral tasting vegetable oil (15 g)
½ teaspoon white vinegar
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
145 g bread flour (1 cup)
½ teaspoon vegetable oil for brushing the dough
flour for dusting
For the strudel filling:
¾ cup sugar
4 tbsp golden raisins
3 tablespoons rum for soaking the raisins
1 lb Granny Smith apples
1 lb Cameo or Gala Apples
5 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Cinnamon to taste
Powdered cloves to taste
For the nutty breadcrumbs
100 g breadcrumbs
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp grated hazelnuts
Plenty of melted butter for coating the strudel
2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing the dough (divided)
confectioner’s sugar for dusting
whipped cream for serving (optional)
To make the dough:
Mix lukewarm water, oil, vinegar and salt in a big bowl. Acid such as vinegar helps relax the gluten to make the dough easier to stretch.
Stir in about half the flour with a spoon until well combined, then gradually add the remaining flour until it comes together and you can work it with your hands.
Knead the dough until smooth for about 10 minutes, either in the bowl or on a working surface.
The dough should be moist but not sticky. If it is too sticky to knead, add a little more flour (you shouldn’t need more than 1 or 2 additional tablespoons).
Slam the dough onto the worksurface a few times to enhance gluten development, yielding a very elastic dough.
Shape the dough into a smooth ball. Brush a clean bowl with oil, put the dough into the bowl and brush it with oil (you can do this with your fingers).
Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and let it sit for 1 hour at room temperature.
Steep the raisins in the rum and leave to soak for one hour.
To prepare the nutty breadcrumbs, heat the butter in a pan until it bubbles up. Add the breadcrumbs and fry slowly over a moderate heat until golden brown. Towards the end, stir in the grated nuts, cook through quickly and remove from the heat.
Peel the apples, cut into slices and quickly sprinkle with lemon juice. Then, depending on the acidity of the apples, add a suitable amount of sugar and powdered cloves, and mix in a generous pinch of cinnamon (TFD actually prefers cardamom, but it is absolutely not traditional).
(Strudel rolling and cooking instructions respectfully cribbed from seriouseats.com)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on your work surface, then cover the table with a large clean cloth.
On a lightly floured cutting board, roll dough into a 10- by 12-inch rectangle. Flip the board and the dough onto the center of the cloth and remove board.
Working carefully, begin to stretch dough from the center out. This can be achieved by placing your hand, palm down, underneath the dough and gently pulling out to the edge. You can also place your fingertips under the dough to gently stretch.
Avoid tearing the dough. If the dough does tear, gently patch together. Stretch the dough until it is a rectangle of approximately 18- by 30-inches and paper thin. The dough should be of even thickness throughout, and thin enough to see through it. Trim off any thick edges with kitchen sheers.
Melt remaining butter and brush a thin coat over the dough (extra butter will be used to brush on top of the strudel before baking). Spread bread crumb mixture in a 12 inch strip at the far end of the dough, leaving a border of 6 to 8 inches from the end and 3 inches from both edges.
Stir ¾ cup sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt in large bowl to combine. Mix in apples, raisins, lemon juice, and zest until just combined. Immediately spoon apple mixture on top of the bread crumbs.
Using the cloth, lift the end of dough over the strudel to cover. Continue to lift the cloth to roll up the strudel. Halfway through, fold the edges in to seal and continue to roll to the end. The strudel should be approximately 16 to 18 inches long.
Roll the strudel directly onto the parchment paper, then lift parchment paper with strudel and transfer to a baking sheet. If the strudel doesn’t fit perfect straight onto the pan, gently curve it to fit. Brush with remaining butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce oven to 350°F. Continue to bake until strudel is golden and apples are tender, about 30 minutes more. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool, then sprinkle with icing sugar.
Serve cool or cold with optional but highly recommended whipped cream.