According to the oldest receipe findings in Vienna’s Stadtbibliothek strudel was introduced to Vienna via Danube Monarchy 1696. The translation of the word “strudel” is Whirlpool, stating truly well how an original pastry looked like. Today it is an Austrian national dish, but where is it from actually?
The origin of the filo pastry is presumed to lie in Arabia, brought to Turkey in 11th century and advanced by Ottoman Sultan's chefs in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.
image of the Pasazade in Istanbul
Filo pastry was probably introduced in Austria when it was attacked by the Ottomans. Ottomans filled the filo pastry with many different foods, meat, cheese and served it as “marching rations” during the military campaigns. The Hungarians learnt how to prepare the waferthin dough, pulled by hand, during the Turkish sieges of the 16th and 17th centuries. There is some difference between doughs, mostly in how thin it should be. Strudel dough is very thin and has a distinct taste due to the high gluten content in wheat grow in the region.
Popularity for this sweet pastry grew at the court of Kaiserin Maria Theresa during the Hapsburg Empire. It's special status is maintained by stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Viennese variant is filled with apple, however, traditionally in Hungary, pastery is served filled with many other variants, nuts, fruits, cheese, etc. Personally, I like it best with cherries.
If you would like to see how to prepare the traditional apfelstrudel, visit a strudelshow at Hofbackstube of the Café Residenz in Schönbrunn, next to the palace. If you are lucky, you might even get to try it, straight out of the oven during the live performance. .
Making the dough, is the most difficult step of the recipe. Pour the water, oil, vinegar and salt in a big bowl. Vinegar is essential for the process to relax the gluten. When gluten is relaxed, the dough will be easier to stretch.
Blend in the flour until well combined, until it comes together and you can work it with your hands.
Knead the dough until smooth, either in the bowl or on a working surface. This will take about 10 minutes. The dough should be moist but not sticky. If it is too sticky to knead, add a little more flour (you shouldn't need more than 1 or 2 additional tablespoons). It is important to slam the dough many times. This will enhance gluten development, yielding a very elastic dough.
Shape the dough into a smooth ball.
Brush a clean bowl with oil, put the dough into the bowl and brush it with oil (you can do this with your fingers).
Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and let it sit for 1 hour at room temperature.
Now you can make the filling. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and add the breadcrumbs. Toast them, stirring constantly, until they are golden. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Mix sugar and cinnamon together, then add it to the buttered breadcrumbs and stir well. Set aside.
Soak the raisins in rum or water for about 10 minutes to get them softened.
Peel the apples, quarter and core them. Chop every quarter into small slices and cover them with lemon juice to prevent the apples from getting brown. Add the soaked raisins (but not the remaining rum or water) and mix well.
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a clean and lightly floured surface. Flour the surface and the dough every now and then while rolling.
When the dough gets about 13-15 inch in diameter, pick it up then use the back of your hands, particularly your knuckles, to stretch it. This way you can straighten the dough into a shape.
When the dough gets bigger and thinner, and thus difficult to handle, put it down on a lightly floured tablecloth, straighten out the wrinkles in both the tablecloth and the dough. Continue stretching the dough on the tablecloth using your hands. Herr Johan Strauss mum was famous for her Apfelstrudel. She stated that the size of a table would determin the size of the dough. Her skills to pull the dough thin and transperent required many emergency extenssions of the dining table. Stretch the dough paper-thin from the inside to the outside, working your way around the sheet of dough. Stretch it until it is fully transparent and you might be able to read through it.
Make sure that you have a rectangular shape, with the shorter edge fitting the baking sheet lengthwise. Cut off any thick edges.
Brush half the dough with half the melted butter. Spread the breadcrumb-mixture over the other half of the dough and pat down evenly. One side is brushed with butter now, the other side is covered with breadcrumbs. Leave 1 to 1 ½ inch to the edge. Spread the apples over the breadcrumbs.
Fold in the side-ends of the dough. Using the towel, roll the dough, starting at the apple-topped end all the way. Then gently roll the strudel onto a sheet of parchment paper with the seam-side down.
Put the dough onto a baking sheet and brush it with the remaining melted butter.
Put the baking sheet in the middle of the preheated oven and bake it for 30 min, 200 ⁰C. Most of the times you will need to leave it an additional 15 min in the oven on after warmth.
Apfelstrudle is ready when the crust turns golden. Take it out of the oven, let it cool, cut it into pieces and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Serve it with the cream or ice cream.