Some clichés are clichés for a reason. This here is certainly one of them. While you think Appel Strudel on a site featuring Viennese food is almost sketchy, you may want to start thinking of why any tourist returning from Vienna talks about this treat. In the end, I think it would be just awfully impolite not to share this outstanding piece of dessert with you. Hell, it took Austria at least two dynasties of decadent monarchs to come up with delicious treats like that while ignoring things like international relations and world politics. It would be a shame if this would go to waste then.
Telling the story of how to recreate this Viennese marvel dish is kind of a challenge though, as it necessarily means picking from an awful lot of recipe variations developed over the years. So I’ll go with a source you can never be wrong: Found in an old family recipe book in my grandmothers kitchen. However, my granny is a down-to-earth person, and therefore, she would always take some shortcuts. For example, she would never brush the stretched dough with melted butter – no, of course not, that would be way too much work. Still, I have to insist, not to skip this step as the melted butter separates the thin layers of dough and yields in a super flaky crust. So here you go. Enjoy this classic Li’l Vienna recipe!
HOW TO MAKE AN APPLE STRUDEL STEP BY STEP
1. MAKE THE DOUGH
Combine all dough ingredients and knead the dough until smooth for about 10 minutes. Slam the dough onto the worksurface a few times to enhance gluten development, yielding a very elastic dough. Shape the dough into a smooth ball. Brush a clean bowl with oil, put the dough into the bowl and brush it with oil (you can do this with your fingers). Let it rest for 1 hour covered with cling wrap or make it up to 3 days ahead and keep it in the fridge.
2. PREPARE THE FILLING
The filling consits of buttered breadcrumbs mixed with sugar and cinnamon, melted butter for brushing, sliced apples and soaked raisins.
3. ROLL OUT THE DOUGH
Roll out the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface. Flour the surface and the dough every now and then while rolling.
4. STRECHING THE DOUGH
When the dough gets about 13-15 inch in diameter pick it up then use the back of your hands, particularly your knuckles, to stretch it (remove all sharp jewelry first). This way you can straighten the dough like a pizza. When the dough gets bigger and thinner, and thus difficult to handle, put it down.
The dough sheet should be paper-thin. Be careful not to tear it.
Can you read the word on the slip of paper under the dough?
5. SPREAD THE BREADCRUMBS
Brush one half of the stretched dough with melted butter, spread the butter-sugar breadcrumbs on the other side.
6. SPREAD THE APPLES
Cut off thick ends. Spread the apple-raisin-filling over the breadcrumbs – leaving 1 to 1 ½ inch to the edge.
7. PREPARE THE DOUGH FOR ROLLING
Fold in the sides so the filling won’t get lost during rolling.
8. ROLLING THE DOUGH
Roll the dough over the filling, starting at the apple-topped end, lifting the filling’s weight with the cloth.
9. ROLL DOUGH ONTO A SHEET OF PARCHMENT PAPER
Roll the dough carefully onto a sheet of parchment paper, seam-side down.
10. BRUSH THE STRUDEL WITH MELTED BUTTER
Put the dough onto a baking sheet and brush it with melted butter.
11. BAKE THE STRUDEL
Put the strudel in the middle of the preheated oven and bake it for ½ hour at 375 °F. Let it cool slightly, cut into pieces and dust with confectioner’s sugar.
Apple Strudel (“Apfelstrudel”) is a typical and beloved Austrian dessert. This is my granny’s recipe – and I’ve never had any better tasting Apple Strudel.
- 1/3 cup lukewarm water (80 ml / 80 g)
- 1 tablespoon + ½ teaspoon neutral tasting vegetable oil (15 g)
- ½ teaspoon vinegar (or lemon juice)
- 1/8 teaspoon table salt or fine sea salt
- 145 g bread flour (1 cup) (substitute with all purpose flour)
- ½ teaspoon vegetable oil for brushing the dough
- flour for dusting
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (40 g)
- 2/3 cups fine bread crumbs (80 g)
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar (65 g)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons raisins (50 g)
- 3 tablespoons rum or lukewarm water for soaking the raisins
- 2 lbs sweet-tart apples (e.g. MacIntosh) (900 g)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing the dough (divided)
- confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- whipped cream for serving (optional)* For the dough, I recommend measuring the flour by weight in grams since it is more accurate than measuring by volume.
- Mix lukewarm water, oil, vinegar and salt in a big bowl. Acid like vinegar helps relax the gluten to make the dough easier to stretch.
- Stir in about half the flour with a spoon until well combined, then gradually add the remaining flour until it comes together and you can work it with your hands.
- Knead the dough until smooth for about 10 minutes, either in the bowl or on a working surface. The dough should be moist but not sticky. If it is too sticky to knead, add a little more flour (you shouldn’t need more than 1 or 2 additional tablespoons). Slam the dough onto the worksurface a few times to enhance gluten development, yielding a very elastic dough.
- Shape the dough into a smooth ball. Brush a clean bowl with oil, put the dough into the bowl and brush it with oil (you can do this with your fingers).
- Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and let it sit for 1 hour at room temperature. (see note)
- Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and add the breadcrumbs. Toast them, stirring constantly, until they are golden. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Mix sugar and cinnamon together, then add it to the buttered breadcrumbs and stir well. Set aside.
- Soak the raisins in rum (traditional) or lukewarm water for about 10 minutes to get them softened.
- Peel the apples, quarter and core them. Chop every quarter into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices and cover them with lemon juice to prevent the apples from getting brown. Add the soaked raisins (but not the remaining rum or water) and mix well.
- Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a clean and lightly floured surface. Flour the surface and the dough every now and then while rolling.
- When the dough gets about 13-15 inch in diameter, pick it up then use the back of your hands, particularly your knuckles, to stretch it (remove all sharp jewelry first). This way you can straighten the dough like a pizza.
- When the dough gets bigger and thinner, and thus difficult to handle, put it down on a lightly floured tablecloth, straighten out the wrinkles in both the tablecloth and the dough. Continue stretching the dough on the tablecloth using your hands.
- Gently stretch the dough paper-thin from the inside to the outside, working your way around the sheet of dough. Stretch it until it starts to look translucent. You should be able to read the titles of a newspaper placed under the dough (don’t do this though, the ink would probably come off).
- In the end, the sheet of dough should be stretched into a rectangular shape, with the shorter edge fitting the baking sheet lengthwise. Thick edges should be cut off.
- Brush half the dough with half the melted butter. Spread the breadcrumb-mixture over the other half of the dough and pat down evenly. One side is brushed with butter now, the other side is covered with breadcrumbs. Leave 1 to 1 ½ inch to the edge. Spread the apples over the breadcrumbs.
- Fold in the side-ends of the dough. Using the towel, roll the dough, starting at the apple-topped end all the way. Then gently roll the strudel onto a sheet of parchment paper with the seam-side down.
- Put the dough onto a baking sheet and brush it with the remaining melted butter.
- Put the baking sheet in the middle (I use rack 2 of 4 from top) of the preheated oven and bake it for ½ hour at 375 °F.
- When the crust turns golden, the Apple Strudel is ready. Take it out of the oven, let it cool slightly, cut it into pieces and serve dusted with confectioner’s sugar.
You can also make the dough ahead and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Temperate before using.