apple strudel

Apple Strudel

This recipe is inspired by the Werner Herzog references in my brother’s amazing movie, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which was edited by my husband and won the Audience Award AND Grand Jury Prize at Sundance over the weekend. The movie was dedicated to my father, who had an insatiable sweet tooth.

Apple Strudel is one of the most famous Viennese pastries which became popular during the Habsburg Empire. It is made of wafer-thin pastry rolled around a sweet or savory filling and is inspired by the Turkish baklava made from the related filo pastry. The strudel dough can be challenging to prepare and handle as it is stretched so thin as to be almost transparent. (Purists say that it should be so thin that you can read a newspaper – or even better, a love letter – through it.) Filo, though not entirely authentic, is an adequate substitution.

For the pastry:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon butter, at room temperature
½ cup warm water
pinch salt
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 egg
3 ½ tablespoons melted butter for brushing

For the apple filling:
5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (about 2 pounds)
¾ cup sugar
1 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup plain dry breadcrumbs

Prepare the pastry dough. Place the flour on to a work surface and make a well in the center. Place the butter into the warm water and pour it into the well along with the salt, vinegar and egg and mix with your hands to incorporate all the flour. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more warm water.

Flour the work surface and knead the pastry for 5 to 7 minutes until it is shiny and smooth. Gather into a ball, place in a bowl, cover and let rest 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Prepare the filling. In a large bowl combine the diced apples, sugar, raisins, cinnamon, salt and breadcrumbs. Toss until mixed and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Lightly flour a work surface and place the pastry in the center and roll it out as far as it will go into a circle. Carefully slide your hands between the pastry and the work surface and, starting at the center and working outwards, stretch the pastry out with the back of your hands. Don’t worry about small tears! Continue working in all directions until the pastry becomes paper-thin and about 3’ x 4’.

Brush melted butter over the surface of the dough and spread the filling along the edge of the longest side of the dough. Trim away the edges and roll, starting at the filled end.

Carefully transfer the roll to the baking sheet, shaping it like a horseshoe. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter and bake at 375° F 40 to 45 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.

Serves 10

The recipe is adapted from The Viennese Kitchen: Tante Hertha’s Book of Family Recipes.

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