Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel)
Provided by: Taste Editors
Strudel-making dates back to the Habsburg Empire, and strudel is found in pastry shops all across Germany, Austria, and central Europe. Apple is by far the most popular filling and, in my opinion, the best. We've had this buttery, flaky version on our menus for years; it’s an excellent finish to a meal or a late-afternoon indulgence with a cup of coffee.
Recipes courtesy of Neue Cuisine: The Elegant Tastes of Vienna: Recipes from Cafe Sabarsky, Wallse, and Blaue Gans by Kurt Gutenbrunner with Jane Sigal. Published by Rizzoli, 2012.
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 4 large apples, preferably Granny Smith--peeled, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup coarse dry bread crumbs, such as panko
- 1/2 cup dark or golden raisins
- 1/4 cup dried currants
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 5 frozen phyllo sheets, thawed
- 6 tablespoons clarified unsalted butter (see strudel secrets below)
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- SWEET BREADCRUMBS:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups coarse dry bread crumbs, such as panko
- Make the sweet bread crumbs: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until it dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and cook, whisking constantly, until they are nicely coated and there are no clumps, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and spread the crumbs in a thin layer on a baking sheet to cool.
Granny Smiths are the best apples to use here, but any relatively tart variety will do. The sweet bread crumbs absorb moisture and keep the strudel firm. If the sugar were added separately, it would make the fruit--and strudel--soggy.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 3 In a large bowl, using a rubber spatula, stir the sour cream with the rum. Fold in the apples. Fold in the granulated sugar, sweet bread crumbs, dry bread crumbs, raisins, currants, and walnuts.
- Spread 1 phyllo sheet on a work surface with a long side in front of you. Brush it lightly with clarified butter and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Top with the remaining 4 sheets, brushing each with butter and dusting with confectioners’ sugar.
- Mound the apple filling across the lower third of the phyllo stack, leaving about 3 inches of space at the bottom. Roll up the strudel tightly, tucking in the ends. Brush with clarified butter and transfer to the pre- pared baking sheet, seam side down. Dust with confectioners' sugar.
- Bake the strudel in the center of the oven until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Re- move the baking sheet from the oven and let the strudel cool for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Dust the strudel with confectioners’ sugar, slice, and serve warm.
Serve with: I like my strudel the traditional Austrian way: dusted with confectioners’ sugar, with dollops of Schlag (sweetened whipped cream) added to the plate.
Variation: Substitute thinly sliced Bosc pears for the apples.
- Strudel is something I take for granted. In Austria, it is used for both desserts and savory dishes. I love its flexibility. I can fill the flaky pastry with whatever I want, which fits perfectly with my kitchen philosophy of marrying the classic and the contemporary. I’ve even done a strudel week at Blaue Gans, stuffing the dough with everything imaginable. When I worked in a restaurant in Vienna, we always made our own strudel dough, rolling out layer after paper-thin layer; however, store-bought phyllo works very well. Here are my pointers for making the most successful strudels ever.
- While the pastry’s superlight, crunchy texture is fantastic in all sorts of recipes, store-bought dough can be tricky to work with, because the sheets dry out quickly once thawed and separated. Melt the butter--actually, I clarify it (see below)--before removing the defrosted dough from the package, then butter each sheet as quickly as possible. Find a big brush so the job goes fast, but take care when brushing the sheets with butter--too much will make the strudel soggy.
- I clarify the butter for brushing the phyllo--that is, remove the milk solids--so the butter does not burn when the strudel bakes. And, after melting the butter, I cook it for 10 minutes to evaporate the water, which would make the strudel soggy instead of crispy.
- To clarify butter, melt it in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, taking care not to brown or burn the butter. Remove the pan from the heat and, using a spoon, skim off the foam. Pour the remaining butter into a bowl, leaving behind the whitish milk solids at the bottom. (Discard the milk solids.) Clarified butter is easy to prepare if you start with at least 1/2 pound. It can be refrigerated for up to 1 month, so you can make more than you need and have some on hand for another use. If the clarified butter has solidified, melt it before using.
- When assembling a strudel, you want to roll the dough very tightly around the filling, or the dough may crack and the filling leak out.
- These strudels can be assembled ahead and refrigerated for up to 5 hours. Brush with more clarified butter before baking. They can also be frozen for up to 1 month, then thawed and baked.
- After a strudel is baked, it should be eaten right away. It gets soggy if cooled and stored.