APFELSTRUDEL

My Aunt Helga is another spectacular cook and baker in my family. She has a captivating laugh and she makes the very best Apfelstrudel! She lives in a modern apartment with an incredible view of the green countryside and all the little towns and villages and the Neckar. I have always loved visiting with her. Having coffee and cake on the rooftop terrace in the summer and then wandering about, carefully studying the furnishings, art and antique collections and observing the latest of my uncle’s paintings. I loved the blue and white “Zwiebelmuster” porcelain and my funny cousin Alex. 

 Strudel is a delicacy from Wien that appears to have originated in the Arabian regions. There are countless variations! The oldest Apfelstrudel recipe is found in a hand written cookbook from 1696. It is a truly lovely dessert! The emperor Franz Joseph even declared that a day without Strudel is like a sky without stars. My aunt Helga patiently taught me how to make her Apfelstrudel. The secret is in the right flour and resting the dough long enough to make it really stretchy.

  • 250 g (2 cups) bread flour  (Type 405 in Germany) 
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water (1/8 liter)
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 5 tart apples, such as Granny Smith
  • 1/2 cup plain, unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup of sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup of raisins
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tbsp sugar mixed

Mix  the flour, oil, salt and warm water together and knead into an elastic, soft, smooth dough. Work the dough for several minutes. Form dough into a ball and brush with melted butter. Create a warm environment by placing a bowl over another bowl that is filled with warm water. Place the dough into the warm bowl, cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 20 minutes. Make sure that the bowl stays warm, replacing the warm water if it cools down too much. 

Peel and quarter the apples, remove the core and cut into 1/8" slices, set aside.

Dust a clean large cotton cloth (about 20"x 25") with flour. Place the dough in the middle of the cloth and roll it to about half the size of the cloth. Then gently pull the dough with your hands. Work slowly and make sure that the dough does not tear in the process - holes are hard to mend. Pull it to the size of the cotton cloth. Traditionally, it should be thin enough to be able to read the newspaper through it! But Helga says that she never pulls her dough that thin. You can pull the dough as large as you dare, just make sure that your strudel still fits on your baking sheet. 

Brush the dough generously with melted butter. Sprinkle breadcrumbs all over and lightly coat with the 4 tbsp of sugar. Spread the apples on half of the dough along one of the short sides, leaving a 2" space from the edge. Sprinkle with almonds, raisins and sugar and the cinnamon mixture. Tuck the edge of the dough over the fruit and then gently start rolling the strudel by pulling the cotton cloth. Start from the fruit filled side and keep folding in the edges on the sides to form a nice neat loaf which has no holes. The cloth assists in handling the delicate dough but should not be rolled up into the loaf. 

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Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lift the strudel up onto the parchment lined baking sheet using the cotton cloth as a carrying device. Gently roll the strudel off the cotton cloth and onto the baking sheet, positioning it with the seam-side down. Brush the strudel with melted butter and bake for 40-50 minutes at 400ºF until light brown. Dust with powdered sugar. Best served warm with a good dollop of slightly sweetened cream. 

SOURCE: MY AUNT HELGA

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