I guess this is a tutorial of sorts–really, it’s more just me showing the process that goes into making pulled strudel. My family has been making this for 5 generations that we know of, and who knows how many before in Germany. I love making it…I get to think about my great-grandma pulling the dough across her red ice formica kitchen table that was her only workspace in her little kitchen. This particular day I was making it for my Bible study group at church.
Here are the apples all diced, and cooked down until very tender with a pinch of salt, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, ginger, and dried sour cherries. A lot of recipes call for the apples to be raw, but I think they ultimately have a better flavor if you cook them first.
Here’s the dough on a floured vintage tablecloth (they hold flour better than new ones because they have a more pourous surface, so you get less flour in your finished strudel) after it has rested for about 2 hours. I made it in my Kitchen Aid because kneading it by hand can’t really yield as pliable of a dough. No magic here–just flour, egg yolk, wee bit of salt and sugar, and warm water and time to let the gluten relax before you stretch it.
Here I’m stretching out the dough. It feels so nice! It’s important to stretch one side for a couple of inches, then move to another side. This will give each side a chance to relax before you try to stretch it more…it helps prevent holes. By the end, you should be able to see the pattern of the tablecloth through the dough very well. I shoot to stretch the dough into about a 3 foot square. It’s usually a little smaller. No worry. There’s always extra dough anyhow.
All stretched now (it takes about 15 minutes)…the entire surface now gets painted with melted butter. My great-grandma didn’t always have butter, so sometimes she’d use lard or shortening–or whatever she had on hand.
Now the apples are made into nice little piles…note how well they keep their shape. This is what makes crisp strudel. That’s because all of the moisture has been evaporated out of them and replaced with silky caramelization which will not soak into the dough as it bakes. This is why apple strudel is my favorite. My Grandpa likes sour cherry and one of my aunts likes cheese strudel which have much more moisture, so when you initially lay out the filling like this, you have to move quickly so things get sealed in before they leak all over.
I just sealed in the filling by pulling up the edge of dough around it. It gets more melted butter. Sorry about the resolution…the camera is getting a little buttery at this point. Teehee.
You continue using the tablecloth to flop the dough over on itself and painting each flop completely with more melted butter until you get to the end of the dough. Then you paint the whole thing with more melted butter. It’s really hard to have too much butter here. I’m with Julia Child on that point.
Here are the little lovelies baked. I put them on a silicone mat. If anything leaks and subsequently caramelizes, it will come right off of the mat–on parchment, it might burn and then rip the strudel when you take them off the pan. I also cut wee vents in the top before they baked just like you would with a pie.
Done and served!