Since I have been on a pastry craze the past few weeks I thought I would continue with one of my favorite but seldom made pastries, Apple Strudel. I made this once many many years ago and thought it was a total disaster. That was in the days when I lived in fear of anything involving dough. Now that I have had alot more experience working with various types of dough I no longer approach it with fear and trepidation but embrace it as a relaxing and thoroughly satisfying kitchen project. My words of advice are to just work quickly and with purpose and always remember that it is only dough and you can still eat it even if it is tough, dry or doesn’t puff and just keep practicing.
Strudel dough is not at all hard to make and it just takes a bit of patience and persistence to do the stretching.
For the dough:
1 1/2 cups (200 grams) unbleached bread flour, plus more for work surface
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower, plus more for bowl
Stir the flour and salt together in a bowl of an electric mixer.
Beat the egg and oil together with a fork in a 1-cup liquid measuring cup. Add enough warm water to make 2/3 cup.
Use a rubber spatula to mix the liquid into the flour.
Attach the dough hook to an electric mixer and mix the dough on low speed until it begins to hold together, about 5 minutes. Increase the speed a couple of notches to just below medium and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, another 5 minutes.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 1 minute. Coat a small bowl with a very thin layer of oil and invert the dough into it; turn the dough over so that the top is oiled, and directly cover the surface of the dough with plastic wrap. Let rest for at least one hour or up to overnight.
For the filling:
2 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
All-purpose flour, for dusting
Vegetable oil, for brushing
Confectioners’ sugar, for finishing
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving
Combine apples, sugar, cinnamon, and raisins in a medium saucepan. Add 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover and let cook for about 5 minutes. When the apples have released their juices and there is a lot of water in the pan uncover, lower the heat, and cook until the water has evaporated and the apples have thickened, about 20 minutes. Pour filling into a baking dish and stir in the walnuts; let cool to room temperature.
In a small saute pan, melt 5 tablespoons butter and add breadcrumbs. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until toasted and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter; set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack positioned in the middle of the oven. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lay a large, clean cloth or sheet on your work surface, and sprinkle well with flour. Remove strudel dough from bowl without folding it over on itself and set it in the center of your work surface. Use the palms of your hands to flatten the dough. Dust dough lightly with flour and roll it in all directions, rolling thinly as possible. The dough is very soft and sticky so be patient. Lightly brush entire surface with oil and allow the dough to rest and relax a few minutes before stretching.
Slide both hands, with slightly curved palms facing down, under dough toward the center. Using the backs of your hands and knuckles, lift the dough off the cloth and with your knuckles, begin stretching from the center out to the edges until it is too large to stretch easily with your hands. Carefully set dough back on cloth, spreading it to smooth out any wrinkles or folds. Starting in the center again, continue to stretch out the dough in all directions, maintaining a rectangular shape, until the dough is almost translucent everywhere except the edges, which should be thicker. If the dough tears while stretching; you will be able to patch any holes with some of the excess stretched dough. Once dough is stretched, let dry for 10 minutes.
Trim all the thick edges until the dough is approximately 24-by-30-inches. With the 24-inch edge facing you, scatter the breadcrumbs on a 12-by-4-inch rectangle of dough centered about 3 inches in from the 24 inch side so the 16 inch side of filling is parallel to the 24 inch side of dough. Scatter the cooled filling on the same space.
Use a brush to drizzle the remaining 3 tablespoons of cooled butter all over the unfilled portions of the dough, reserving a little to brush the strudel with once it has been rolled.
Roll strudel by folding 3 inches of dough from the 24-inch side of dough over the filling, then fold the unfilled dough in from each side. Lift the cloth and roll the strudel, stopping to fold the edges inward as you roll. Transfer to prepared pan, seam side down, positioning diagonally if necessary.
Brush the top of the strudel with remaining butter, and snip vent holes in with sharp scissors.
Place strudel in oven. Bake, rotating pan halfway though, until deep golden brown and crisp, about 30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut on the diagonal into slices. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar.
Stretched dough with bread crumbs
The apple filling
The first fold
Completed strudel ready to bake