When I was a little girl (growing up in Lubbock, Texas), my mother used to make Apple Strudels all the time. The smell was intoxicating. I remember coming into the house after playing outside or being at school and the smell of baking apples, topped with cinnamon and sugar was more than I could bear. My mouth would water with anticipation as I waited for my mother to take the strudel out of the oven. Not only did it smell delicious, but the taste matched the aroma.
I don’t know how my mother did it, but her strudel dough was paper-thin, and the apples perfectly sliced and seasoned. She never measured any of her ingredients… her baking was intuitive. It took her hours to make and stretch the dough to perfection. She would then slice the apples and coat them with sugar and cinnamon. And then she would roll the strudel until all the goodies were tightly wrapped up into a sweet package. Not only did she love making strudel, but she also loves eating it. Unfortunately, as she has gotten older and her arthritis has set in, her strudel making days are a thing of the past.
I have to admit… making strudel has never been my thing… I have to admit it’s almost intimidating. But every time I visit my mother, she always asks me to make strudel for her. I would always skirt the issue, but this time around I relented as I realized passing on this family tradition was important to her. Now it’s my turn to learn how to make the best possible strudel so I too can pass this tradition on to my ladies.
So, this past week, while visiting her… I rolled up my sleeves and learned the art of strudel making from the expert. For three consecutive days, I made strudel while she watched and instructed. And each day… it got better and better.
Here’s what you will need…
For the dough:
- 1 ½ cups sifted flour (during my learning process I used King Arthur and Gold Medal All Purpose Flour)
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- ¼ cup lukewarm water (may need slightly more)
- 2 Tbsp. Crisco, cut into small pieces
For the inside:
- 5 – 6 Apples, my recommendation is a mix of good baking apples, granny smith, honey crisp, or cortland
- ¼ cup sugar
- Golden raisins
- ½ of a lemon
- 2 Tbsp. dry breadcrumbs
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Sift your flour with salt. Make a well in the center, add beaten egg and slowly start mixing with a fork. Add the warm water and the pieces of Crisco and continue mixing with fork until you have a nice consistent dough
- Using your fingers and the heel of your hand knead the dough on a floured surface for about 15 minutes. The longer you knead, the easier it will be to stretch the dough. You want your dough to be soft and pliable.
- Cut your dough in half and place both pieces under a warm bowl and leave for about 20 to 30 minutes. If your bowl gets cold, switch it out with another warm bowl. I heat glass bowls in the microwave.
- While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. Peel and slice your apples, coat them with a good squeeze of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon. Mix everything together
- Take one half of the dough and begin rolling the dough out as much as possible. Pick up the dough and using the heel of both hands from underneath begin stretching the dough as much as possible. Work your way up and out and then work your way down and out. Take your time so as to not tear the dough. Once you have stretched the dough as much as possible place the dough onto a lightly floured cloth. For this, I use Flour Sack Dish Towels from Target, which I absolutely love.
- Using a rolling pin as well as your fingers, continue stretching the dough until it is as thin as tissue paper.
- Let your dough rest for about 10 minutes… you want it to dry slightly, but not too much.
- Melt your butter and lightly coat the area where you are going to place your apples, which should be about three inches from the bottom. After lightly buttering that area, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, then add the apples and sprinkle with additional sugar, cinnamon and raisins. Top off with more breadcrumbs.
- Separate another egg and beat the egg white. Brush the dough around the edges with the white, working quickly so that it doesn’t dry out. Brush more melted butter around the apples.
- Begin at the bottom by folding the dough over the apples and roll as tight as possible to the end.
- Transfer the rolled strudel onto a buttered baking sheet. Brush the strudel with egg yoke.
- Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the strudel begins to lightly brown.
Although my strudel attempts were not as perfect as I remember my mom’s to be, the smell and taste was still intoxicating. I guess you could say… I’m hooked, which means I’m going to perfect my strudel making abilities. I’ll keep you posted.