Here comes the Czech classic, the perfect autumn and winter dessert, the Apple Strudel.
Do you have lots of apples and are looking for ways to use them? Are you craving an apple dessert? Something to snack on a cold autumn afternoon, a piece of comfort food? Then you’re right here because the apple strudel is perfect in every way.
Table of Contents
What is Apple Strudel
Apple strudel is soul food. Pieces of baked apples, grated or diced, cinnamon and other delicacies wrapped in delicate dough. The dough would deserve a whole chapter but I’ll tell you about it briefly. There are numerous recipes for strudel dough and none of them is wrong.
The dough recipe was different region to region, family to family. Although many consider the puff pastry to be the original one, pulled dough was used widely because it’s the cheapest option and it’s what the poorer families went for. Nowadays, we also see a lot of strudel made with yeast dough.
My ancestors came from humble households and my great-grandmother used to make strudel from pulled dough, so that’s the dough I’ll show you in this recipe (also because I like the taste best). It is quite difficult to prepare if you want to make the very basic pulled dough because it was made from just flour, water and vinegar. I’m adding a little butter to make the work easier, some bakers even add egg but we want to keep it as true to my great-grandmother’s recipe as possible.
History of the Strudel
Jablečný závin or jablečný štrúdl/štrůdl (the latter comes from the German word Strudel) comes from Austria-Hungary, the first preserved recipe comes from the very end of the 17th century and it can be found in the Vienna City Library. Some theories even say that Czech cooks might have invented Strudel as some Moravian rural areas were one of the poorer parts and many were in service in Austrian households. Strudel is considered a Czech dessert as much as it’s Austrian simply because it was one empire back then and this delicacy has been made in what is now the Czech Republic ever since.
The Strudel recipe was adapted from the Baklava recipe that came to Austria-Hungary from the Ottoman Empire.
Apple Strudel – Recipe
Ingredients (2 pieces)
- 250 g/8.8 oz of all-purpose flour or hladká mouka, preferably with high gluten content
- 100 ml/3.38 oz of warm water
- 1 tbsp of vinegar
- 40 g/1.4 oz of warm butter (unsalted, of course!)
- 1,5 kg/2.2 lbs of apples (about 1,1 kg of grated apples)
- 5 tbsp of sugar
- 2 tbsp of ground cinnamon
- 4 tbsp of chopped walnuts (optional)
- 3 tbsp of breadcrumbs (optional)
- 2 handfuls of raising (optional)
Walnuts and raising belong to the strudel but you can skip them if you don’t like them. Breadcrumbs soak the excess moisture but you can skip them as well. You can adjust the amounts of all ingredients to your taste.
- butter or egg to glaze
- powder sugar
How to make Apple Strudel
Put all the flour in a bowl, add vinegar, butter and mix while slowly adding the water. You can start with a wooden spoon but after a while you’ll have to use your hands to knead. Knead until the dough is smooth. Proper kneading if essential because it activates the gluten which is what makes the dough elastic.
Then cover the bowl and let the dough rest half an hour in warmth to prevent the butter in the dough from becoming solid. One traditional method is to put the bowl over a pot with hot water. Another one is pouring boiling water in a bowl, pouring it out and then covering the dough with that bowl.
Peel the apples and remove the cores, then grate the apples.
Mix in the sugar, cinnamon, breadcrumbs, raising (you can soak them in rum first).
Now you need to roll out and stretch the dough into a rectangle. This will take a lot of time but it is worth it, believe me. So you can start with a rolling pin but then you’ll have to stretch (or pull) the dough with your hands. You have to do this very slowly to not tear the dough. Everyone has to find their tricks to do it, for example, I lift the dough, put my hands in the middle and slowly pull the dough from there.
The dough needs to be so thin that you can see your hand through it. The picture doesn’t do the reality justice, it looks thicker than it was.
My great-grandmother used to stretch the dough on a bedsheet, I have tried this several times but can’t do it. Unfortunately, this once common practice has been disappearing.
Spread the filling on the dough evenly, leaving about two finger space on each side.
Start rolling the strudel from one long side. Here I was rolling with a rug under it but you absolutely don’t need this, you can roll it with your hands.
When you’re done, close the ends.
Place the strudel(s) on a baking tray and glaze with melted butter.
Preheat the oven on 200°C/392°F and bake for 35 minutes or until golden. If you have some butter left, you can glaze again in the middle of the baking. You can sprinkle it with sugar before or after slicing it.
You can serve apple strudel hot or cold. If you serve it cold, sprinkle some powder sugar on it. Some restaurants even serve it with ice cream or vanilla cream. Well, serve it any way you like, the most important thing it that you enjoy your apple strudel.