Strudel - A Holiday Tradition




All hands on board for a fun-filled experience.

Strudel, a German word meaning whirlpool, spiral or eddy, gets its name from the stretched-thin layers of dough being rolled around tasty fillings, sweet or savory. Apple strudel is the most popular and well-known, but the varieties are endless. How about cherry and cheese strudel, cabbage, or maybe a three mushroom strudel with an herb mayonnaise? The list goes on and on.

The artistry is in making the dough and stretching it so thin that you can read a newspaper through it. The difficulty in making a classic strudel is overstated. Anything is easy if you know how.

The recipe starts with a basic dough of flour, salt, oil, water, egg and vinegar. Mixed until it's developed into a satiny smooth dough. While the dough is mixed and resting for about an hour in a warm place, the filling is prepared. Simple enough.

Now the fun begins. During the holidays there is never a shortage of children of all ages around and what a great way to keep them busy. Believe me, they will have a ball.

Cover a table about 3' x 4' in size with a clean tablecloth. The cloth is used to stretch the dough and to aid in rolling the dough. To keep the tablecloth from sliding around, tie the corners under the table or use thumb tacks to secure the cloth. Toss bread flour over the cloth lightly and gently rub in to the cloth to keep the dough from sticking.

Now place the relaxed dough on the cloth and roll out into a rectangle using a rolling pin. Set the rolling pin aside and using your fingertips, start pulling the dough around the edges gently. Then flour the back side of your hands (remove rings or watches) and start stretching the dough, going around the table, stretching and pulling until the dough is a very thin sheet. I like to have four people around the table at a time for more fun, stretching and pulling until the entire table is covered with a thin dough sheet.

Let the dough dry on the table while you cut away any dough that hangs over the edge. Brush the dough all over with about half of the melted butter. Now sprinkle the dried bread crumbs over all of the thin dough. Along the long edge of the dough, arrange the sliced apples into a row. Sprinkle the sugar on top, then the cinnamon, raisin and finally chopped nuts.

Free the tablecloth from underneath and, using the tablecloth, gently lift up and roll the strudel from the side the filling is on and roll it into a spiral. Place the strudel onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper and shape into an S shape (strudel), horseshoe or heart shape, seam side down. Bake at 350 degrees, for 42 minutes, brushing the strudel several times with the remaining melted butter. It should be a dark golden brown.

You can sprinkle powdered sugar on top and then slice the strudel and serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream. It takes me longer to type this article than it does to make strudel. Don't let the directions scare you off. It's easy once you know how.

- Happy Baking

Apple StrudelDough

1 lb. all purpose flour (3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour)

1 teaspoon salt

1 whole egg

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup water (room temperature)

1/3 cup white vinegar

Filling

1 3/4 lbs. peeled apples (6 to 8 Cortlands, Macs or Granny Smiths)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.

While assembling

1 stick of butter, melted (4 ounces)

1/2 cup dried bread crumbs

Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl with a dough hook and mix on slow speed. Mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic - 5 to 6 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and brush with oil to keep it from drying out. Cover the dough and let rest at room temperature for about one hour. For the rest of the instructions, see the story and photos.

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