Strudel di mele

Strudel di mele (Apple Strudel)

In Alto Adige, dessert, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto by Frank28 Comments

I first learned to make Strudel when I was living in Vienna, its birthplace. Strudel is also made in Italy, in particular in the Northeastern regions that were under Austrian rule, and most especially the region known to Italians as Alto Adige and to German speakers as Südtirol, which was part of Austria until the end of the First World War. In Italy, Strudel is traditionally made with a soft, pliable dough made with flour, enriched with egg and melted butter or oil and rolled out very, very thin, even if today many people use store-bought pastry dough or pasta frolla. It is also wonderful made with phyllo dough.

Although it looks very fancy, Strudel is actually quite easy to make—especially if you use store-bought dough. Rolling the dough up into a loaf can be a little tricky the first time you try, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be whipping up this dish in little over an hour, and that’s counting the 30-45 minute baking time. For those celebrating Thanksgiving this week, it makes for a nice change from the usual pumpkin pie (which, I have to admit, I never liked…)

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

For the dough:

  • 150g (5oz) flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2-3 Tbs granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 Tbs olive or vegetable oil (or melted butter)
  • Water, q.b.

For the filling:

  • 750g (1-1/2) apples
  • 75g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • A handful of raisins, pre-soaked in rum
  • A handful of pinoli (pine nuts), or slivered almonds
  • 1-2 Tbs cinnamon
  • 75g (2-1/2 oz) breadcrumbs
  • A good nob of butter

For baking and finishing:

  • More flour
  • Melted butter
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

If using homemade dough, prepare it by mixing the dry ingredients, then the egg and oil, then finally just enough water to form a ball. Knead briefly until the dough is soft and elastic. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, then in a towel, and let rest for a good 3o minutes or more. (In some old recipes, you are told to let the dough rest in a warm saucepan, to soften it even more, in which case I’d skip the plastic wrap.) See notes below for using store-bought dough.

While the dough is resting, peel, core and slice the apples as thinly as you can. Add the sugar, cinnamon and raisins, which you will have drained and squeezed dry, and the pine nuts or almonds.

Strudel di mele-1

Mix things all together, moistening the mixture if you like with a bit of the rum in which the raisins have been soaked. Set aside.

Sauté the breadcrumbs in the melted butter over very gentle heat until they are lightly browned. Be careful not to over-brown the crumbs.

When the dough has rested at least a good 30 minutes, mold it into a flat, rectangular shape and place it on a well-floured cotton (not terry cloth!) dish towel or, even better, a linen baker’s couche.

Strudel di mele-2

Roll the dough out as thinly as you can manage into a large, rectangular shape. Older recipes tell you to stretch it further with your hands, as you might a thin-crust pizza—supposedly until you can read a newspaper through it, but I have to assume that’s hyperbole…

Strudel di mele-3

Brush the dough liberally with melted butter, leaving the edges dry.

Spread the sautéed breadcrumbs in a thin layer all over the dough, leaving the edges clear.

Strudel di mele-4

Pour the filling over the breadcrumbs and spread it out even, again avoiding the edges.

Strudel di mele-5

With the aid of the towel, roll up the dough into a large lozenge-shaped “loaf”.

Strudel di mele-6

Once the strudel is fully rolled up, tuck the edges under

Strudel di mele-7

and, very gingerly, transfer this loaf onto a baking pan or sheet. Brush the loaf liberally with melted butter. If you prefer a ‘shiny’ surface to your strudel, you can brush the surface with milk or egg wash instead.

Strudel di mele-8

Bake the strudel in a hot (200c/400F) oven for a good 30-45 minutes, until golden brown all over. (I find it helps browning if you brush it once or twice with more melted butter while it bakes.)

Let the strudel cool entirely. Top with powdered sugar before serving in thick slices, perhaps with a nice side of whipped cream or ice cream if you’re feeling decadent.

Notes on Strudel di mele

If using store-bought pastry dough, just lay it out flat on the sheet it is usually attached to and lay the breadcrumbs and filling out on top, then roll it up as usual. You won’t need to brush it with butter, as pastry dough already has a high fat content, [although brushing it with milk will help it brown]. I’ve seen recipes for Strudel with puff pastry, too. And if you want to use phyllo dough, which makes a particularly delightful Strudel, lay out one sheet, brush it with melted butter, then repeat until you have 4 or 5 layers of dough, before laying on the breadcrumbs and apple filling. Phyllo, I have to guess, may have actually been the original Strudel dough, since sources say that Strudel was derived from the baklava made by the Ottoman Turks.

The breadcrumbs, by the way, don’t turn up in all recipes, but the thin layer of breadcrumbs is useful to soak up the juices that can extrude from the apples as they cook. This way, the crust doesn’t get soggy.

The classic apple for making strudel—the Italian variety at least—are Renettes, but I’ve seen recipes calling for all sorts of apples, from Granny Smiths to Golden Delicious. For this strudel, I used Honeycrisps, and it was delicious. If using a rather tart apple like the Granny Smith, I’d increase the amount of sugar in the filling. In fact, you can vary the amount of sugar anyway, in the filling or the dough, to suit your personal tastes. The measurements given here produce a strudel that is only slightly sweet, which is the way I like it.

The word “Strudel” comes from Middle German for whirlpool, since the roll was traditionally formed into a spiral shape. Although Apple Strudel is by far the most famous, there are all manner of Strudel, both sweet and savory. And once you’ve got the hang of the basic recipe, you can make any of them. But that’s a story for another post.

Strudel di mele (Apple Strudel)

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • *For the dough:
  • 150g (5oz) flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2-3 Tbs granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 Tbs olive or vegetable oil (or melted butter)
  • Water, q.b.
  • *For the filling:
  • 750g (1-1/2) apples
  • 75g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • A handful of raisins, pre-soaked in rum
  • A handful of pinoli (pine nuts), or slivered almonds
  • 1-2 Tbs cinnamon
  • 75g (2-1/2 oz) breadcrumbs
  • A good nob of butter
  • *For baking and finishing:
  • More flour
  • Melted butter
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

  1. If using homemade dough, prepare it by mixing the dry ingredients, then the egg and oil, then finally just enough water to form a ball. Knead briefly until the dough is soft and elastic. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, then in a towel, and let rest for a good 30 minutes or more. See notes below for using store-bought dough.
  2. While the dough is resting, peel, core and slice the apples as thinly as you can. Add the sugar, cinnamon and raisins, which you will have drained and squeezed dry, and the pine nuts or almonds.
  3. Mix things all together, moistening the mixture if you like with a bit of the rum in which the raisins have been soaked. Set aside.
  4. Sauté the breadcrumbs in the melted butter over very gentle heat until they are lightly browned. Be careful not to over-brown the crumbs.
  5. When the dough has rested at least a good 30 minutes, mold it into a flat, rectangular shape and place it on a well-floured cotton (not terry cloth!) dish towel or, even better, a linen baker's couche.
  6. Roll the dough out as thinly as you can manage into a large, rectangular shape. Brush the dough liberally with melted butter, leaving the edges dry.
  7. Spread the sautéed breadcrumbs in a thin layer all over the dough, leaving the edges clear. Pour the filling over the breadcrumbs and spread it out even, again avoiding the edges.
  8. With the aid of the towel, roll up the dough into a large lozenge-shaped "loaf". Once the strudel is fully rolled up, tuck the edges under and, very gingerly, transfer this loaf onto a baking pan or sheet. Brush the loaf liberally with melted butter. If you prefer a 'shiny' surface to your strudel, you can brush the surface with milk or egg wash instead.
  9. Bake the strudel in a hot (200c/400F) oven for a good 30-45 minutes, until golden brown all over.
  10. Let the strudel cool entirely. Top with powdered sugar before serving in thick slices, perhaps with a nice side of whipped cream or ice cream if you're feeling decadent.

Notes

If using store-bought pastry dough, just lay it out flat on the sheet it is usually attached to and lay the breadcrumbs and filling out on top, then roll it up as usual. You won't need to brush it with butter, as pastry dough already has a high fat content, [although brushing it with milk will help it brown]. I've seen recipes for Strudel with puff pastry, too. And if you want to use phyllo dough, which makes a particularly delightful Strudel, lay out one sheet, brush it with melted butter, then repeat until you have 4 or 5 layers of dough, before laying on the breadcrumbs and apple filling.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://memoriediangelina.com/2015/11/23/strudel-di-mele-apple-strudel/

Comments

  1. What a terrific lesson, Frank. Bravo! I love Apple Strudel, and I always enjoy making it. I learned from my maternal grandmother. She was Hungarian, Austro-Hungarian, actually. When she came to America she left what was then the Austro-Hungarina Empire. She arrived here prior to the outbreak of WWI. And no, that bit about being able to see through it, read through it, and all the rest is the real deal. The magic that strudel dough in the hands of a master is a glorious thing to behold. I must say that your dough look positively perfect. You should be terribly proud of this. And you said you were not a baker…

    P.S. Grandma Skolion used bread crumbs too. Nothing went to waste in her kitchen.

    1. Author

      Too kind, Adri! You’re lucky to have Apple Strudel among your family heirloom recipes—it’s a real treat!

  2. In Umbria we make rocciada, which is similar. It was one of my favorite desserts as a child. The combination of flaky dough, fruit and nuts to me is one of the most satisfying to savor (plus I like that it is not overly sweet). Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.

  3. Hi Frank, I stumbled upon your blog and was instantly hooked. I read about your Sunday dinners and saw my family, only west coast style. Our family went from New York to California in the 30’s. Any way was intrigued to try the strudel for our thanksgiving as my 95 year old uncle isn’t fond of pumpkin, and thought the strudel would be a good alternative. I put them together yesterday using a store bought puff pastry and baked them this morning, they just came out of the oven. They are golden, and look wonderful. I did purchase a pumpkin pie for the traditionalists. But the strudels are beautiful. Thanks so much!

  4. I don’t know why had never thought of making a strudel myself, especially because the only thing my husband does not eat are raisins! We are not pumpkin pie lovers either so will be going with a pecan pie this evening. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. I was reading along, delighted, because I make a crisp apple strudel (plus schnitzel with noodles and tea with jam and bread) for my Sound of Music party every year – yes, you read that right – and I was loving all the helpful instructions … until I derailed over the fact that you don’t like pumpkin pie! What???

  6. Can’t to try this, maybe Christmas. I would love to see the “other” Strudel recipes. You make cooking understandable, when you incorporate history, words and the fantastic pictures.

    I can hardly wait to go back to Italy to eat again, but you give me information that EXPLAINS Italian cooking; ex: The information about Calcium Chloride in canned ‘italian’ Tomatoes, “Who knew?”

    1. Author

      Thanks, Ray! Your comment is music to my ears, since making Italian cooking understandable is exactly what I’m aiming for.

  7. splendida questa versione dello strudel, la pasta tirata fa la differenza, prendo nota perchè vorrei farla anche io ! Felice giorno del ringraziamento Frank !

  8. I just finished a play where a recipe for apple strudel (slightly Hungarian) is thoroughly discussed (and criticized for having cream cheese in the dough). Now, I want to go back and change it to a discussion of having breadcrumbs in the dough! I’ve never done it with breadcrumbs – but it makes so much sense. I love strudel (or I wouldn’t be putting it in a play) and will be making this.

  9. Isn’t using store bought dough cheating? Just kidding! I’ve seen people make real strudel dough and I’ve never attempt it! Good to know that it’s sold! Beautiful!

    1. Author

      Thanks, Mimi! Truth be told I probably use store-bought as often as I may my own dough. Just don’t tell anyone… 😉

  10. Great action shots, Frank. I’ve been wanting to make an apple strudel for years now, but I always seem to get sidetracked (once by a banana strudel recipe from an old book of Steven Raichlen’s called Miami Spice ~ as I recall it was wonderful). Wishing you a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving.

    1. Author

      Same to you, Domenica! And now that you mention it, I think I’ll have to try that banana strudel quite soon…

  11. Ciao Frank! Growing up my mamma made Strucolo de Pomi. She rolled it and then formed it into a large U. I’m planning on making one for Christmas and see if I can duplicate how she made. She made strucolo for years. Her dough was not the real think dough that I’ve seen in the strudel. I think I told you I was born in Isola D’Istria when it was still Italian.Of course studying about foods from that area has made me realize the huge Austrian influence on the cuisine.

    1. Author

      Absolutely. That area has a fascinating history—I’m sure you’ve been back? Also worth visiting nearby Trieste, or so I hear, as I’ve sadly never been myself.

  12. I adore a good apfel strudel when traveling through Germany and Austria! I’ve always wanted to make an authentic one, but I honestly don’t have the room to roll out such large pastry. Yours is a better option for most people. Looks lovely!

  13. Frank – You’ve written a thorough explanation of apple strudel and yours looks delicious. I remember having an apple strudel lesson years ago in the basement kitchen of one of the royal palaces of Vienna, and the cook demonstrated what you said about being able to roll the dough so thinly you could read a recipe through the dough. She even held up the dough with a recipe card behind it and she was right – you could really read it through the dough. However, after eating many apple strudels throughout Italy and Austria, my favorite apple strudel is not the type with the thin dough, but with the more “cakey” type of dough I’ve found at some restaurants in the Alto Adige region of Italy. Happily one of them shared its recipe with me and it’s the one I always use now when I make apple strudel.

    1. Author

      Now that’s incredible. As I wrote, I was sure that the line about being able to read through the dough was hyperbole! And I’m intrigued by this cakey dough version you mention—have you wrote about it on your blog?

  14. I love apple strudel too. Apple desserts are my favorite ones! I lived in Austria (Inssbruck) for 4 years and I learned to make strudel too. My recipe does not call for eggs in the dough and the temperature of the water should be 35°C, in this way it is easier to knead the dough. I should try your recipe too. A presto Paola

Leave a Comment