(Austrian apple strudel pastry)
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Hot apple strudel is one the most famous and delicious desserts to come out the kitchens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Supple dough is stretched paper thin and rolled up around a tart-sweet filling of apples and raisins.
Apple strudel is especially associated with Viennese cuisine, where it is often served with coffee as an afternoon snack. But its popularity extends throughout the former empire and into Germany as well. This tasty dessert, evocative of autumn, is called almásrétes in Hungary.
10 to 12 servings
- Flour -- 1 1/2 cups
- Salt -- pinch
- Water -- 1/4 to 1/3 cup
- Egg -- 1
- Oil -- 1 tablespoon
- Tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced -- 2 pounds
- Raisins, soaked in warm water -- 1/4 cup
- Sugar -- 1/2 cup
- Cinnamon -- 1 tablespoon
- Vanilla -- 1 teaspoon
- Butter, melted -- 1/2 cup
- Breadcrumbs -- 1/2 cup
- Powdered sugar -- 1/4 cup
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in 1/4 cup of the water, the egg and the oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour with a wooden spoon, adding more water as needed to form a soft, pliable dough. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic, 5 or 6 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for at least an hour.
- While the dough is resting, peel and slice your apples and soak the raisins. Gather the remaining ingredients needed for the filling to have them on hand. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a large, thin rectangle. Lay a clean bed sheet out on a table and lightly sprinkle it with flour. Place the rectangle of dough in the middle of the sheet. Lightly flour your hands and place them underneath the dough. Use the back of your hands to pick up the dough and gently stretch it from the center to the edges. Keep stretching — moving around the table to stretch all sides of the dough — until it is a large rectangle and thin enough that you can almost see through it. Don't worry if you have one or two tears. Just pinch the dough back together.
- In a large bowl, mix together the apples, raisins, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Brush the stretched dough with melted butter, leaving an unbuttered border of about 2 1/2 inches on each side. Sprinkle the buttered section of the dough with the breadcrumbs. Then spread the apple mixture evenly over the breadcrumbs.
- Fold the borders on the shorter sides of the dough rectangle up and over the filling. Use the sheet to gently lift one of the long sides of the dough and roll it over the apple filling. Continue to lift the sheet and roll the strudel until it is all rolled up.
- Gently lift the strudel, seam side down, onto a large baking pan that is either lightly greased or lined with baking paper. You may have to bend the strudel into a crescent shape in order to fit it on the baking pan. Set in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown on top. Brush the top of the strudel with melted butter once or twice during baking if you like.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve slices hot accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream or topped with whipped cream or vanilla sauce.
- Strudel Dough: Some recipes leave out the egg. Add more water as needed to make up for the lost liquid. If making strudel dough by hand seems daunting, you can use puff pastry or phyllo dough instead. Most brands have instructions on the packaging to use for strudels. In Austria and Germany you can buy ready-made dough that is specifically for strudels.
- Apples: Tart, firm apples — Granny Smith, Jonathon, Empire, Cortland — are best for baking and in strudels. If your apples are a little too sweet for your taste, add a squeeze of lemon juice to the filling.
- Filling Additions: Other ingredients that you can add to the filling include a dash of chopped, toasted almonds or walnuts, a grating of lemon zest, a dash of rum extract.
- Other Fillings: Experiment with other fruit fillings — cherries, plums — or try using a savory filling like sauteed mushrooms or ham and Swiss cheese.
- To make two smaller strudels, cut the dough in two after kneading.