Who doesn’t love strudel? Well, the results of my highly (un)scientific poll prove without a shadow of a doubt that nobody doesn’t love strudel. I mean, it is a classic, delicious pastry, but I had no idea just how much people love it until I made it.
Why strudel in the first place? Well, if it’s deliciousness alone wasn’t a good enough reason. The other reason was this role-playing game that I play. In the game our characters are currently traveling around the world a bit. The guy who runs the game, last time he made dinner from Romania, where our characters were. That inspired me. I found out that this time our characters were going to Vienna, so I thought I would make something Austrian.
I have some history with Austrian foods. I studied German and in high school, I was on an exchange program with an Austrian high school (Gymnasium). It was with a school in Graz. Graz is the second largest city in Austria, but it doesn’t get lots of tourists because it’s in the southeast corner of the country away from the more famous touristy stuff. For me at least, that was a good thing. Away from the huge crowds, I really got immersed in the culture, language, food, and all the rest. It was lots of fun being there, and it was also fun showing them around when they visited us in the US. The program was only for a couple of weeks each way, but it had a big impact.
So, I tried to figure out what kind of Austrian food to make. There are a lot of choices! After finding a few that looked doable, I decided on one that would be easily recognizable, and easily transportable: apple strudel. Also, I settled on this particular version of the recipe because it was easier. Traditionally, you roll the dough paper-thin (so thin that you can see through it). This one didn’t call for that, which was good, because I didn’t really have a space to roll out the dough that thin, and I was concerned about breaking it, honestly.
The recipe itself is pretty simple. Classic, in fact, and awesome. It has very few ingredients, and very little sugar. Let’s just say that sometimes, simpler is better. For the apples, I chose Gala apples. The recipe just called for baking apples and of the available choices, the Gala apples looked the best at the grocery store.
Also, eagle-eyed readers might notice an issue with the picture of the ingredients. You’ll see that the little spice bottle is not cinnamon, as you might expect, but rather cumin. Let me assure you that there is cinnamon and not cumin in this. The cumin was next to the cinnamon and I grabbed it by accident. Thankfully I noticed it before I used it.
It was a very easy recipe to put together. It started with a simple dough. I used a pastry blender to help put it together. I still needed to put some muscle into it, but it wasn’t bad. It was kinda like pie dough.
Besides paying attention to the ingredients (see cumin above), it also helps to pay careful attention to the instructions. I didn’t, and so I didn’t realize that the dough needed to be refrigerated overnight. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that kind of time. So I put it in the fridge and turned it to the coolest setting possible. Then I had dinner and hung out a bit. Then I made the filling and did the rest of the prep work that was necessary before taking it out of the fridge. So it didn’t chill as long as it was supposed to, but I think it was okay.
As for making the filling, the Gala apples were a good choice. They were very easy to cut, and they were nice and sweet. (I tried some of the filling after I made it.) The recipe didn’t say how to cut them, so I cut them pretty small, basically dicing them. I melted the butter, mixed in the breadcrumbs, added the sugar and cinnamon, and then dumped it all into the apple bowl and mixed it all up. Easy peasy.
I used my new assistant, the handy-dandy pastry mat, with measurements right on it. That made it very easy to measure. I pulled out the dough and guessed at splitting it into thirds. (I did an okay job, but one ended up a little smaller.) I rolled it out to the right size-ish. I had to guess at splitting the filling too. Mostly fine, but the last one had way too much filling. (Which is why I tasted the filling. I had put it all in at first, but it was too much, and I had to take some out.)
After rolling out each piece of dough, I spread out the filling, then rolled up the dough. Fun! I tried pinching the dough closed at the edges and at the seam. Not perfect, but good enough. Some of the dough was thin, allowing apples to poke through, so I patched the dough as needed.
Originally I was going to use a baking dish, but then I thought I wanted to give the strudel more room. So I used a baking sheet. I had to carefully move them onto the baking sheet. It made 3. I baked them for 55 minutes. Wow, they smelled really good. They were nice and brown when they came out of the oven. I let them cool a couple of minutes. Then I cut off a couple of pieces to try.
Really, really yummy. Not too sweet. Only a cup of sugar total for the whole recipe, which was a ton of strudel. Nice flaky crust. Good filling. It was almost hearty, but not in a savory way. Just yummy apple-y, pastry goodness.
I kinda feel like I cheated. The other recipes where you roll the dough super thin are a little more involved, and I think they make a more delicate dough, but this was pretty good. (Thanks hon for helping with the cleanup as usual.)
The game was the next day. Everyone loved it. They kept thanking me and saying how great it was. I was asked how I made the crust so flaky. (Butter, I replied.) I brought one of the three. It was gone fairly quickly. There were lots of strudel jokes. (None of which are funny unless you were there, unfortunately.) That night, my wife and I had a little bit more. We warmed it up a little before eating it, which was a good call. As I said, not a lot of sugar, but the apples made up for that. It was just really good. Simple, not flashy, but delicious. I also brought some to work. People loved it there as well. Comments ranged from “it was excellent” to “you could sell this”.
All in all, I would say it was a great choice of recipes. People really went gaga for it. Who knew a little strudel could do that to people? Have you had a big reaction from making strudel? Do you have a favorite strudel recipe? Do you have a favorite strudel besides apple strudel? I’d love to hear all about your strudel experiences. Feel free to share!
Recipe courtesy of Recipes Wikia.