What is it?
Tender flaky pastry with fruity apple filling.
How is it called in German?
“Apfel” is the German word for “Apple”.
Cultural Background Story
Photo: Hofburg Palace Vienna
When talking about Strudel, it usually refers to a flaky dough specialty from the Habsburg area, with different sweet or hearty fillings. The dough is spread extremely thin, very carefully, then topped with filling and rolled up. Cut into slices, the pastry kind of looks like the identically named water vortex (directly translated, “strudel” means vortex).
The origin of the Strudel is most likely in Arabia, where it was brought through Egypt, Palestine and Syria, finally to Turkey. After the conquest of Byzantium, in the year 1453, the recipe of the Turkish Baklava came to Vienna, through the Balkan. At the time of the Danube-monarchy, the Apfelstrudel came to Vienna from Hungary.
How old the Strudel really is, will probably stay a secret of kitchen history. The oldest known Strudel recipe is found in a hand written document, from the year 1696, named “Koch Puech” and is found in the Vienna city library. At the latest during the 18th century, though, Strudel was incorporated by the Habsburgs and served as a dessert at the court of empress Maria Theresia.
The most famous execution of this delicious pastry is the “Apfelstrudel” (apple strudel) and “Topfenstrudel” (quark strudel). But strudels can be also filled with other fruity and even savory fillings.
Authentic Apple Strudel
- 5 cups pastry flour
- 1 1/3 cups water lukewarm
- 1/3 cup neutral vegetable oil
- 1 pinch of salt
- 7-8 pounds apples tart apples i.e. Granny Smith or Idared
- 1 cup almond slices optional
- 2-3 cups raisins optional
- 2 cups sugar
- 1-2 tbsp. rum optional
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon optional
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 10 tbsp. butter
- 2 2/3 cups bread crumbs
- neutral vegetable oil as needed i.e. sunflower oil
- Powdered sugar to taste
- Sift flour and add it with the lukewarm water, oil and a pinch of salt to a stand mixer bowl.
- Knead with the hook attachment at medium speed until a smooth and elastic dough forms.
- Portion the dough into 3 equal sized pieces. Either with help of a kitchen scale or you can eyeball it.
- Shape each piece into a smooth ball, brush it with vegetable oil and wrap it with cling film. You can prepare this the day before and store the dough in the fridge. (The dough will be even easier to work if you place it into a small bowl and cover it with sunflower oil for about 30 min.)
- Peel, core and quarter the apples. Slice each quarter into thin slices.
- Place the apple slices into a large bowl and add sugar, almond slices, raisins, rum, lemon juice, cinnamon and mix everything well.
- Cover and set aside.
Buttered Bread Crumbs:
- Melt butter on low heat.
- Roast breadcrumbs over medium heat until lightly brown.
Strudel Assembly & Baking:
- Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about 1 hour. This is important to make sure you can stretch the dough easily.
- Pre-heat the oven to 380 F.
- Lay a clean smooth cotton kitchen towel flat on the counter and generously flour the top.
- Place one dough ball on top and sprinkle it with flour.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle and brush with oil.
- Stretch the dough carefully with the knuckles your hands until the whole kitchen towel is covered. The dough should be so thin that you are able to see the pattern of the kitchen towel through it. This will take some time and patience.
- 1Pinch off any thick dough parts at the edges.
- Brush the dough with melted butter and evenly sprinkle 1/3 of the breadcrumbs on top.
- Drain liquid from the apple mixture by using a strainer and then pile 1/3 of the apple mixture along the left short side of your dough.
- With the help of the kitchen towel roll up the strudel and carefully transfer it seam side down on a with parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Twist off excess dough and tuck the end under.
- Repeat the process for the remaining dough balls.
- Brush all strudel with melted butter.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 30 – 40 min. or until golden brown.
- Remove the strudels from the oven and brush again with melted butter.
- Allow to cool completely and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Serve with homemade vanilla sauce and a generous dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.