Apple Strudel

The other week on Bake Off, the contestants were challenged to make a strudel – making strudel dough from scratch. Even Mary Berry admitted to buying premade dough because it’s such a pain in the butt! Well, if Mary Berry caved in, I certainly couldn’t; therefore I had no choice but to make a strudel.

It was surprisingly difficult to even find a recipe for strudel dough. So big thanks to Linda at A Tender Crumb for posting a recipe that had both a filling and a dough.

There are two keys to making this strudel work:

  1. Take your time when stretching the dough. Seriously. Don’t rush it.
  2. Don’t use store-bought breadcrumbs to make the filling. I made that mistake and my strudel was a bit mushy in the middle. Definitely make breadcrumbs fresh at home!

This, I will admit, was a challenge, not to mention I made a huge mess in the kitchen because the flour just goes everywhere.  Anywho… here goes!

Ingredients

For the strudel dough:

  • 1 1/3 cup flour (unbleached)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

You will also need a clean bedsheet or tablecloth!

For the filling:
  • 2 Tablespoons golden rum
  • 3 Tablespoons raisins
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs – key word: fresh
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 pounds (900 grams) cooking apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

Directions

1. First make your strudel dough: Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. In a glass measuring cup, mix together the oil, vinegar, and water. Add this mixture to the flour while slowly mixing to bring everything together into a soft dough. Then knead it on an unfloured work surface for a few minutes to help activate the gluten – this will allow the dough to stretch more easily. Take the dough and throw it hard down onto your work surface every now and then, which is great for getting out a bit of pent-up aggression.

2. Once you’ve needed for awhile, shape the dough into a ball and place it on a plate to rest. Oil the top of the dough slightly, then cover it tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30-90 minutes (the longer the better, I did mine for about 40, and it didn’t want to stretch as much). While your dough is resting, you can make part of the apple filling.

3. In two small bowls, mix together the rum and raisins in one and the cinnamon and sugar in the other. Then heat 3 Tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add in the breadcrumbs and cook them for about 3 minutes, until they are golden brown and toasted. Set them aside to cool.

4. To make the strudel, you will need to stretch your dough out so thin that you can pretty much read through it.  To do this, first cover your work surface with your clean bedsheet or tablecloth. Dust and rub some flour into the fabric, then place your dough onto the surface and roll it out as much as possible.

5. Once you’ve rolled it out quite a bit, pick up the dough and let gravity do a bit of the work.  Use your hands and forearms to support the dough as you stretch it, and try to keep it in as rectangular a shape as possible. Once the dough gets too large to hold, gently lay it back onto the sheet to begin stretching. Reach your hands underneath the dough and gently pull it (coercing, really, more than pulling) by small bits at a time using the back of your hands. You need to be super careful that you don’t poke or tear any holes in it.

6. Stretch the dough until it is super thin, like tissue paper. In the photo above, you can start to see the words on the page through the dough – but it’s not thin enough yet! Once you get it thin enough, trim off the thicker sides of the dough into a straight-edged rectangle.

7. Now, back to the filling. Brush the top of your dough with about 3 Tablespoons of the melted butter, being careful not to tear the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the toasted breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs will act as an absorbant when your filling cooks so that it won’t get mushy. Then sprinkle the walnuts in a strip running parallel to the short edge of the dough, about 2-3 inches away from the edge.

8. Finally, mix the apples with the rum raisin mixture and the cinnamon sugar. Spread this mixture over the walnuts.

9. Now here’s the tricky part, and you may want to get a friend to help. Fold the short end of the dough over the filling. Then lift the edge of the fabric up, basically to create an incline that the roll will tumble down on its own. It’s really nerve-wracking, but once you’ve done it it’s actually quite cool. Then tuck the ends of the strudel underneath and brush the top of the strudel with the last of the melted butter.

10. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with some baking paper, then transfer your rolled strudel to the sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.

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