Apple strudel

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Oh my god! This was the most fun baking project I did in the last few months. I was in the kitchen  yesterday and while waiting for batches of granola to cool down to ship for an order, I came across a recipe for strudel dough while flipping through the recipe binder from culinary school. I vaguely remembered stretching the dough to paper thin consistency in school with my fellow students while chatting about the surprise engagement of one of the girls from Mexico whose boyfriend proposed on top of Brooklyn bridge.

Apple strudel is an oblong pastry jacket with apple filling and breadcrumbs. It's a traditionally Viennese pastry but very popular in different parts of Europe.  Its an unleavened dough which is mixed by hand till it is of wet consistency and is kneaded by banging against a table and folding it in for 100 times to develop the gluten in the flour.  The dough rests for an hour and then rolled on a big table and pulled gently till its paper thin. It sounds far more complicated than it really is. You should enlist the help of a friend or family member because its a lot of fun to stretch the dough while you are catching up. 

I caught hold of Ramesh, my fellow baker and coworker and got him to help me. We chatted about his recent trip to his ancestral village, the best way to cook mutton curry (in a clay pot with lots and lots of ghee and sealed off with dough to cook for several hours) and my business partner's upcoming wedding. It so therapeutic to gently pull the dough with the back of our hands so as not to tear it and then pinching the dough together when we did. I had a loaf of bread I baked lying around which I toasted and then turned it into breadcrumbs and sliced and chopped a few apples and marinated it with lemon juice, cinnamon powder, cloves, vanilla bean paste and brown sugar. You spread the breadcrumbs in an even layer across the width of the dough, pile on the apples neatly and then roll the dough tightly.

It baked up perfectly and the pastry had thin layers that shattered when you bite into it with a cinnamon lemon scented apple filling which was just perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Its best the day its baked but you can reheat it in the oven for upto 2-3 days.


Apple strudel recipe

Strudelteig (hand-pulled strudel dough)- Recipe fromChef Sim Cass ,Institute of Culinary Education.

  • High gluten flour (I used all purpose)    397 gm
  • salt        7 gm
  • eggs    100 gm
  • oil        14 gm
  • warm water    186 gm

Apple filling- Recipe adapted from Luisa Weiss's Classic German Baking and Smitten Kitchen.

  • 6-7 firm apples 
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 65 grams brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 60 grams plain, unseasoned dried breadcrumbs 
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar 
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 80 gm  raisins (soaked overnight in water or 2 tablespoon of rum)
  • 10 tablespoons melted butter (4 for breadcrumbs + 6 for dough)

Method

  1. Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Beat the eggs and oil with a whisk in another mixing bowl. Add warm water to the egg oil mixture.
  3. Stir the liquid into the flour with a rubber spatula, making sure that no flour sticks to the side of the bowl. The dough will be fairly soft.
  4. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Pick the dough up and slam it against the surface forcefully. It should make a loud noise. Fold the dough back on itself, and pick it up again from the side, detaching it from the surface with a bench scraper. Flour the surface and your hands lightly if the dough is sticking. Repeat this motion 100 times ( I did 200 times because I used all purpose flour and it took longer to develop the gluten) until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Oil a small bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn it over, so that the top is oiled. Press plastic wrap against the surface of the dough and rest the dough at room temperature for about an hour or so.  Refrigerate the dough if its to be held longer than  half a day. If the dough was refrigerated, et it come to room temperature before proceeding.
  6. Cover a rectangular table (30 by 48 inches is ideal) with a cloth. Generously flour the cloth.
  7. Place the dough in the center of the cloth, making sure not to fold the dough at all while removing it from the bowl. Flour the dough and roll it as thin as possible with a rolling pin. Brush oil lightly on the surface of the dough.
  8. Pull the dough from the center outward, stretching the dough over the back of the hands, fingers folded under. When the dough becomes fairly thin, let it rest for a few minutes.
  9. Prepare the breadcrumbs: In a small skillet over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter and add the breadcrumbs, sugar and salt. Stir to coat and cook, stirring frequently as they can burn quickly, until crumbs are an even golden brown and very fragrant. Don’t let them burn.
  10. Assemble strudel: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Brush evenly with about half the melted butter. On the right side of the rectangle, a few inches from the end, spread the breadcrumbs top to bottom in a thick line, leaving a little more than an inch margin at the top and bottom of the strip. 

  11. Scoop the apples with a slotted spoon, leaving any accumulated juices in the bowl, and pile them over the crumbs. Gently pull the top and bottom edges of the dough over the apple mixture. Pull the right edge of the dough up and over the filling as far as it will go without tearing. Working carefully, use the towel to roll up the strudel all the way. Place the parchment paper from your baking sheet at the edge of the roll and roll the strudel onto it. Ideally, it should be breadcrumb side-down on the parchment, you can roll it again if it’s not. Use the parchment like a sling to gently place the strudel on the baking sheet.

  12. Brush the strudel generously all over with some of the remaining butter. Bake for 15 minutes, then brush again and return to the oven in a rotated position. Repeat this once, baking a total of 45 minutes. The finished strudel should be crisp to the touch and a deep golden brown.

  13. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and slice into pieces to serve. Highly recommend pairing it with lightly whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.