Sunday, 14 October 2012

Apple Strudel - Slovak Jablkova Strudla

Apple Strudel is favorite dessert made in many countries across Eastern Europe and this is like the one my Slovak Mother used made when I was growing up. This recipe is for my niece Jennifer who reminded me of  how much she liked it when my Mom baked this on a Sunday afternoon. It is a nice soft dough that can be made in the food processor or by hand. You can either make a pulled dough which is when you pull the dough over your table to create a very thin dough or you  make it simply by rolling it out with a rolling pin. This recipe is somewhere in between. My mother normally rolled it and then pulled it slightly. The smell of strudel baking brings me immediately back to my Mother's  small turquiose kitchen on Greenwood Ave in Toronto. Thanks Jenn glad you mentioned it!

You will need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup softened unsalted butter (or 1/2 of a stick)
  • a big pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of water 
  • 6 apples -can be a variety or just granny smith- peeled and grated or sliced thin on a mandolin
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp butter melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • more sugar and cinnamon when assembling. I like to use vanilla sugar
  • optional raw sugar to top  

Step 1: in a food processor add flour, salt and soft butter. Mix for a few seconds. Add egg, vinegar and 1/2 cup water. Mix for 10 seconds to see if a ball starts to form. If too dry add additonal water and mix 30 seconds. Once the ball has mixed for 30 seconds touch it to see if its too sticky or feels nice and soft. If it feels good then mix again for another 30 seconds. You are trying to develop the gluten which will allow the dough to be stretched thin. My Mother didn't use a food processor she did it by hand however, she would knead the dough for several minutes on the table and she would slam it on the table to develop the gluten. If you hold the dough in you hand and then hit the table or counter 100 times this will do it! The food processor does this for you that is why I use it.

Step 2: let the dough rest for at least 1 hour or several hours wrapped in plastic on the counter.

Step 3: peel apples and slice very thin slices on a mandolin or grate the apple. I actually grate it and once I get closer to the core I slice on a mandolin to get every bit from the apple. I prefer to use all granny smith apples but, I happened to have a variety and it worked out great. In a bowl add the apples, the lemon juice, the sugar and cinnamon. Mix and let sit to extract water while rolling dough.

Step 4: on a clean, floured tea towel place dough. Add a bit of melted butter or oil to the top ad start to roll out on the tea towel. I always try to keep it relatively rectangle shaped. Take your time, its a beautiful soft dough that rolls nicely.

Step 5: once I get it almost the size of the tea towel I carefully put my hands under the dough and gently start to pull the dough until I get a large sheet approx 24 x 24 inches. Pull from the edges and also see if there are thicker spots to try to even out.

Step 6:  carefully brush the top of the dough with melted butter, then sprinkle breadcrumbs over top leaving a inch or so around the edges.

Step 7: strain apples in a colander and then take handfuls squeezing out all the water you can with your hands before sprinkling the apple over the breadcrumb layer. Finally sprinkle a few more tbsp of sugar or vanilla sugar over apples and a final generous sprinkle of cinnamon. If you have any butter remaining you can sprinkle over the apples. If its melted you can drizzle it all over.

Step 8: starting at one end use the tea towel to roll the strudel. Continue using the towel to roll until completed. I also like to brush some butter on the last edge to seal.

Step 9: if there is too much excess dough on the ends you can trim some of it however, you want enough dough to press together and then fold under the edges. Carefully lift using your forearm to support the strudel and move it to a buttered sheet pan. I like to use buttered parchment paper.

Step 10: brush top with butter or egg wash and I sprinkle with a bit of raw sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes, turning once at the halfway point so it bakes nice and evenly.

Remove and let cool. Slice while still warm and it can be served with powdered icing sugar and some fresh whipped cream if you prefer. 

We just went nuts and ate it plain like the savages we were! 

I love it the next day for breakfast. The dough softens and tastes great at room temperature.


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