This past weekend was the Canadian Thanksgiving and I was happy to be able to go home and spend some time with my family. While I wasn’t involved in much of the food preparation this year, I helped to provide recipes for the weekend – namely pomegranate-glazed salmon, Ina Garten’s Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with a Warm Cider Vinaigrette and baklava (ok, I was allowed into the kitchen to make this!). Everything we ate was delicious. I was lucky to grow up with a family that can cook and bake so well.
My quest to search out those treasured family recipes was one reason I became more interested in cooking. My paternal grandmother passed away before I became interested in learning how to make perogies, paska and borscht. Sometimes recipes just aren’t as good as learning from your Baba.
One of the first recipes I didn’t want to die into oblivion was strudel. Authentic, German strudel. How my Oma makes it. Nothing else compares. Just as I had comments that my baklava isn’t truly authentic without hamur (homemade dough), I know that strudel without pulled strudel dough pales in comparison to the real thing. For the longest time, I couldn’t even fathom making it in my apartment because I didn’t have a kitchen table. Because that is how big the strudel dough must be pulled.
I hope to share with you how to make the best apfelstrudel. It looks daunting and kneading the dough takes some knack. I find that the most challenging. The first time, I kneaded it for over 30 minutes until I was able to get the desired consistency. I had to knead until it felt “like this”, my grandmother and uncle explained. The stretching takes time and patience. No worries about small holes, since it all gets rolled up and no one will be the wiser. I need to keep my strudel making skills up to snuff, with constant refreshers, and my dad promised me we’d make it together over Christmas.
Here are a few photos from my first time learning how to make strudel:
Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel)
Dough (for 2 strudel)
4-1/2 – 5 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp vinegar
1-1/2 tbsp oil
1-1/2 cups tepid water
1. Start with 4 cups flour in the mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the salt, egg, vinegar, oil and water.
2. Now combine the egg mixture into the flour in the bowl. Use as little of the extra flour as possible (about 1/2 cup) in the kneading to get a dough that flows when you hold it by the top half. Knead the dough until it is smooth and comes clean off of the hand. Depending on how hard you knead, this could take 10-20 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into two parts. Store in small, tight-sealing, oiled dishes. Rest the dough overnight at room temperature.
Filling (for 1 strudel)
1/2 lb melted butter
3-4 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped (1-1/2 pounds) – try to use a mix of tangy apples (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, etc)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
1 tbsp cinnamon, or to taste
raisins, dried fruit, optional, to taste
1. Melt about 8 ounces of butter in over low heat.
2. For the pulling, you need a large table. Spread and clip a clean cloth (a coloured table cloth works great) over a large rectangular table. Flour the cloth and turn the dough from one dish out onto the center. With a floured rolling pin roll it out long and narrow, as much as possible. Brush the dough evenly with melted butter,. Lift and stretch the dough to about double its size. Brush the dough evenly with melted butter, concentrating on the edges. Lift and stretch the dough (including the middle) until it hangs over all the sides. When finished stretching, remove the thickened edge by rolling it on a hand as it is torn off.
3. If the fruit is very juicy squeeze some juice out. One one end of the long edge (about 6-10 inches from the edge), sprinkle with the bread crumbs, then sugar, apples, raisins and cinnamon.
4. Fold the dough over at the short sides, by lifting the cloth and quickly flipping the dough over onto itself. Roll up the dough by grabbing the cloth on both ends of the filled side and lifting it so that the strudel rolls gently. Be careful not to roll the strudel over the opposite edge!
5. Lift the roll in an S shape into a buttered pan (can use vegetable shortening since it is less likely to burn). Brush the strudel with melted butter. Pull and fill the second strudel. Bake together in a pre-heated 400F oven for about 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 350F. Bake until light brown for approximately another 25-35 minutes.
6. Let the strudel cool a bit before cutting it into pieces. Best served when still warm from the oven. Can be frozen and reheated.
One strudel serves 8-10.
Want to try another filling? How about this cherry and almond strudel.