Although originally from Hungary, Apfelstrudel or Apple Strudel is a traditional Austrian dessert. Though the combination of spices, apples, and nuts wrapped in pastry dough may sound complicated, the recipe for this sweet, layered pastry is surprisingly easy to make. Apple Strudel can be a tasty snack or served as fancy desert. Plus, it is a good way to use old apples. So, if you feel your stomach grumbling and your mouth watering, gather some apples, an apron, and head to the kitchen!
If so inclined, the recipe to make your own dough is below. If not, store bought puff or regular pastry, or phyllo dough works well too.
Ingredients for the Strudel Dough:
⅓ cup lukewarm water
1 Tbsp neutral tasting oil (vegetable oil or light tasting olive oil)
1 ½ tsp white vinegar
1 ¼ – 1 ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
⅛ tsp salt
For the Filling
¼ cup golden raisins
2 Tbsp lukewarm water
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup sliced almonds
1 ½ lb sweet-tart apples sliced approximately ⅛ inch thick
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
Putting It All Together
Instructions for the Strudel Dough
In a medium sized bowl, mix the water, oil, and vinegar together. Incorporate the flour and salt. Mix until it becomes a dough. Now knead the dough on a flat surface, like a countertop, adding as much flour as necessary until the dough is not sticky. Continue kneading until smooth and elastic, which will take approximately 15 minutes. Then brush the dough with oil and place in a greased bowl. Cover with a cloth and let the dough rest on the counter for at least one hour.
For the Filling
While the dough is rising, make the filling. In a small bowl, combine the raisins and warm water. Set aside until the raisins are plump which will take approximately 20 minutes. Heat the butter in a skillet on the stove until melted. Add the breadcrumbs and sauté over medium heat until golden brown. Add the sugar and sliced almonds, mixing until thoroughly combined with the breadcrumbs. Then place the mixture in a bowl to cool. Peel, core, and slice the apples to roughly ⅛ inch thickness. Put the sliced apples in a large bowl, and add the lemon juice, vanilla, and cinnamon. Drain the raisins and add them to the apples. Mix and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Roll out the dough to approximately 10×10 inches. Then transfer the dough to a clean cloth and continue stretching it from the center outwards, until it reaches about 26×18 inches. The dough should be partly transparent. Gently brush half of the dough rectangle with melted butter. Sprinkle an even layer of the breadcrumb mixture on the other half, leaving a 2 inch border. Distribute the apples over the breadcrumbs, leaving the border clean. Fold the long sides of the dough up and over the filling and then fold the short side of dough up and over the filling. Roll the strudel starting from the short edge of the filled side, using the towel as support. Place the rolled strudel on a parchment-lined baking sheet with the seam side down. Gently brush the strudel with melted butter. Place it in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden. When golden, remove from the oven and let cool for 1 hour before dusting with powdered sugar to serve.
If you are ever in Vienna, make sure you see the Apfelstrudel demonstration at the Schönbrunn Palace Café Residenz with a professional pastry chef. It is really entertaining and the slice of strudel you receive afterwards is divine!
In Austria, where this dessert originates, people say Gesegnete Mahlzeit before eating, which basically means “blessings on the food.” So, Gesegnete Mahlzeit!