Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Apple Strudel from scratch - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

Have you tried baking apple strudel from scratch?

Most apple strudel recipes that I saw at the internet are made with either ready made puff pastry or filo pastry. Only a few at here and here are made with homemade pastry from scratch.

What is apple strudel?

According to Wikipedia, apple strudel is traditionally known as Viennese strudel, a popular pastry in Austria, Bavaria, Czech Republic, Northern Italy and many other countries in Europe that were belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1867 to 1918.

Traditionally, apple strudel is made with many thin layers of elastic dough. The pastry has to be so thin that the words of a newspaper can be read through it.

After browsing the recipes, I have decided to try baking apple strudels using either homemade pastry from scratch or filo pastry and compare both ways of baking.

I must admit... Baking an apple strudel from scratch is not easy but I made it!!!

Now, sharing all that I know...

apple strudel from scratch homemade thin crispy pastry
I made it!!!
I baked this Perfect Apple Strudel from scratch.

The traditional apple strudel recipe at Little Vienna at HERE is fantastic but after following the recipe faithfully... my apple strudel turned out to be like this...

This is my very first apple strudel from scratch... OMG! It's so ugly!!!
It looks like a big pastry pillow that is filled with apple filling. LOL!

What happened?

I have followed the recipe to the tee by making the strudel pastry with 145g flour and filling it with 900g apples but why is my pastry looked over-filled with just a single layer of pastry. Biggest possibility... Maybe I'm not skillful enough to stretch the pastry into larger size that is not big enough to fill 900g apples?

Clearly, this pastry recipe makes really good stretchy pastry but the proportion of pastry and filling is not working optimally for me. So I increase the amount of pastry to 160% and reduce the amount of apples by half (450g). Then, I baked this perfect apple strudel! YAY!!!

apple strudel from scratch homemade thin crispy pastry
My second attempt. And this apple strudel is a million times better!!!
Yes! I can bake a perfect apple strudel from scratch!

How did I eventually do it?

These are the essential points that I would like to highlight:

1. It is a must to use bread flour to make the pastry. The dough requires high gluten content to be stretchy.

2. Please weigh your ingredients and stick to the pastry recipe.

3. You must knead the dough until smooth and elastic and rest the dough for at least 60 mins before assembly

4. It is important to roll, pull and stretch the pastry as thin as possible so that the pastry is large enough to create multiple layers and the pastry will be crispy.

5. Do not omit the addition of the breadcrumb mixture as it helps to absorb the juice that is released from the apples during baking so that the pastry won't become soggy.

6. Based on my previous failure, I have learned that I need to arrange my apple slices with their lengths parallel to the width of the pastry so that they will be nicely aligned and neatly wrapped into long strudel without poking through the super-thin pastry.

7. I have also realised that the perfect apple strudel needs to be baked in high oven temperature so that the pastry will be nicely crisped! So first I set the oven temperature to 200°C / 400°F in order to bake the pastry for at least 25 minutes until firm and golden brown. Then, I reduced the oven temperature to 180°C / 350°F and baked the strudel until the apples are tender and the pastry is thoroughly crisped.

Then... I was enjoying this sweet smell of success!

apple strudel from scratch homemade thin crispy pastry
Can't wait to savour this lovely slice of apple strudel
that is made with thin layers of crispy pastry and filled with lots of apples

Watch my video to see how I baked my perfect apple strudel from scratch.

Music: Bensound

What's next?

I would love to try baking apple strudels using filo pastry. I know that it will be definitely easier than baking this apple strudel from scratch but are they tastier? Let find out.

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Here's the recipe that is adapted and optimised from Little Vienna

Make one 35cm apple strudel

For the dough:
130g lukewarm water
25g neutral tasting vegetable oil
3/4 tsp white vinegar
235g bread flour
1/4 tsp salt

extra oil for brushing a bowl if required

For strudel dough:
If you are using a breadmaker to knead, add all ingredients into the breadmaker according to this order. Use "dough" setting to mix and knead dough for 30 mins or until the dough is smooth, elastic and stretchy. Allow dough to rest for 1 hr.

If you are using an electric mixer with an hook attachment or your hand to knead, combine all ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix at low speed until a soft dough forms, about 5-10 mins. Increase kneading speed by one setting and continue to knead for about 20 mins or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and allow the dough to rest in a warm and humid place for about 1 hr.

For the apple filling:
50g raisins
30ml (2 tbsp) rum or water
80g breadcrumbs
40g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
50g dark muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar or caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large or 3 medium apples that are suitable for baking - I used Granny Smith, about 450g before peeled and cored
about 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla paste

extra bread flour for dusting
30g melted butter for brushing the dough during assembly

To make the filling:
Add raisins and rum or water in a heatproof bowl or small cooking pan. Microwave with short pulses (10-20 secs) of high power and heat with medium low heat until the raisins are just lightly heated (not boiling). Set aside for about 10 mins to allow the raisins to absorb the moisture and become softened.

Combine melted butter and breadcrumbs in a medium mixing bowl, making sure that the breadcrumbs are thoroughly mixed with butter until golden.

Add sugar and cinnamon into the breadcrumbs. Mix well and set aside.

Peel apples. Cut into quarters and remove their cores. Chop every quarter into about 0.5 cm thick slices. Toss with lemon juice to coat the apples thoroughly - This will prevent the apples becoming brown. Add raisins (without any unabsorbed liquid) and vanilla into the apples. Mix well to combine.

Stretching, assembling and baking:
Preheat oven at 200°C / 400°F.

Flatten dough on a lightly floured surface to form a large oblong shape.

Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough on a lightly floured baking paper to form a large rectangle. Dust lightly with flour while rolling.

Then, pull and stretch the edges until it forms a large rectangle (at least 40cm width 60cm length) that is as thin as possible without breaking the dough. Trim off any thick edges if required but I didn't do that.

Spread breadcrumb-mixture over half of the dough (the left side) and brush half the dough (the right side) with half of the melted butter (15g) - So one side is covered with breadcrumbs and the other is brushed with butter.

Arrange apples with their lengths parallel to the width of the pastry evenly on the breadcrumbs, leaving about 2-3 cm of the edges uncovered with apples.

To shape, fold in 2-3cm top, bottom and left ends of the dough. Starting at the apple-side of the dough (left), lift up the baking paper and use it to roll the apple and pastry tightly like a Swiss roll.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Transfer pastry onto the lined tray with its seam side down. The strudel should be about 35cm long.

Brush the assembled pastry generously with the remaining melted butter (15g).

Bake for 25 mins or the pastry is starting to become golden brown and firm. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C / 350°F and continue to bake for another 20 mins or until the pastry is thoroughly golden browned and crispy.

Allow pastry to cool slightly about 10 mins on the tray, then transfer onto a wire rack to cool further or completely. Slice and serve with or without icing sugar.

Best to consume the strudel within the same day of bake but the leftover can be stored in freezer bags or zip-locks, then in a freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, do not thaw frozen pastry. Place frozen in pre-heated oven and bake at 180°C / 350°F for 15-20 mins or until thoroughly warm and the pastry is crispy again.

Happy Baking
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