I’ve never took pictures of my apple strudels before, because I was never satisfied with the result. A few weeks ago, I finally found a perfect recipe. It is smart, logical, with detailed instructions — Original Viennese Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel). I am adding it to my collection of favorite recipes with many thanks to Ursula & David.
Adjusted to My Taste and to My Kitchen
Apples. Even during the season when Texans have a larger assortment of apples available, choosing apples for strudel can be tricky. Knowing about different varieties is not always helpful with mass production apples that are harvested too early. In many cases, their taste and texture goes off after cooking. Mostly, they become bland, tasteless. That’s why I prefer cooking apples to concentrate and adjust their flavor, if needed, with brown sugar or honey and balance the sweetness with some lemon juice. Cooking also allows to evaporate extra water from the stuffing, which in return helps keep the flaky dough dry and crispy a little longer.
Bread crumbs. I tried 1) simply mixing completely dry bread crumbs with melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon, 2) frying stale bread crumbs in melted butter until golden before mixing them with sugar and cinnamon, and 3) using hazelnut meal instead of bread crumbs. While all three options taste very good, option 2 keeps the moist away from the crust the best.
Silicone mats vs. tablecloth. Floured tablecloth is perfect for thinly stretched dough — the dough neither sticks to it, nor slides away. It also helps to roll the strudel using gravity by lifting one of its sides, without touching the dough with bare hands. It makes all the sense when you are making at least three strudels. But what if you make one strudel at a time and maybe a few times a year? Is it possible to make a strudel without a tablecloth just as easy? Apparently, large (15×23″) multipurpose silicone mats work just fine. Since it’s much easier and faster to clean them, I use two silicone mats instead of tablecloth.
In a bowl, sift measured bread flour. Dissolve salt in lukewarm water, add lemon juice and 1 tbsp (reserve the second tbsp of butter for brushing stretched dough later) melted clarified butter, and combine with bread flour. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes to develop gluten well. Shape it into a smooth and soft ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Keep for 1 hour in room temperature or for up to 3 days refrigerated.
for cooking apples
Wash, peel, core, and dice apples. In a bowl, combine diced apples with sugar and lemon juice.
Melt clarified butter in a large skillet on high heat and cook apples, stirring. It is important to cook apples on HIGH HEAT and ONE LAYER at a time to concentrate their flavor.
for bread crumbs
In a pan, melt 40g of clarified butter on medium heat and toast breadcrumbs in it, stirring constantly, until golden. In a bowl, combine them with sugar and cinnamon.
for making strudel
Preheat oven to 375F. The goal is to stretch the dough into a thin, almost see-through rectangular 15" wide and 36" long. Do it in 3 steps, letting the dough to rest for about 3-5 minutes after each stretch.
Start by dusting your working surface with some flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough 1/8" thin, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest.
Pick the dough up, turn upside down, lightly dust it with some flour if needed, and roll it 1/16" thin into a large and longer rectangular. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
Slowly peel off the working surface the dough, carefully pick it up with the back of your hands, and transfer it to the silicon mat (or tablecloth). Continue stretching the dough on the silicon mat to reach the final size (15"x36").
Spread the bread crumbs mix on a latter size area. Place the apples over the bread crumbs. Drizzle 1 tbsp of melted butter on the rest of the stretched dough.
Using you hands, do the first fold of the dough with bread crumbs. Continue rolling by lifting the shorter edge of the silicon mat all the way to the end.
Gently roll the strudel onto a smaller silicon mat and transfer it into a baking pan. Make sure the final position of strudel is seam side down. Brush it with melted butter. Bake on middle rack for 25-30 minutes or until golden.
Let baked strudel cool down to room temperature before slicing it.
Dust strudel with powdered sugar and slice to portions. Strudel is served warm with vanilla ice cream, Crème Anglaise, whipped cream, or any combination of them.