Strudel

 

Strudel is a generic German word for a number of different rolled pastries. In Italian cuisine it commonly refers to the apple variation, which is a staple of the desserts from the Trentino Alto Adige region. Truth to be told, strudels got there via the nearby Austrian border so this isn’t strictly Italian… but since the real origin lies in the Turkish baklava pastries, we wouldn’t fret too much about details. The connection between this recipe and Trentino is in fact in the use of apples – the regional treasure. If you want to be faithful to traditions you should use Russet apples, but the Golden variety will do just fine.

Ingredients

- 125 g 00-type flour

- 1 large egg

- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

- 30 ml warm water

- 750 g apples

- 25 g pine nuts

- 60 g white sugar

- 50 g raisin

- 1 grated lemon rind

- 100 g butter

- 1 tablespoon cinnamon

- 2 tablespoons rum

- 75 g bread crumbs

- Powdered sugar

- 1 pinch salt

Preparation

A strudel is composed of the outer pastry and its stuffing. Both are quite easy to make, so let’s start with the former. Pour the flour in a bowl and mix it with your hands – following this exact sequence – with the salt, the egg, water and oil. As soon as you have a decent dough, slam it on an oiled marble board and keep mixing energetically until you have a smooth, elastic ball. Lightly oil the ball in order to make it non-sticky, transfer it to the bowl and cover with saran wrap – then put it in the fridge. Now let’s move on to the filling. Dunk the raisin in the rum to revive them, leave them aside and melt the butter in a pan. As soon as the butter begins frying, add the breadcrumbs and toast them stirring with a wooden spoon. Try to get the bread to a nice golden color without burning it, then kill the flame and set it aside too. Peel and finely slice (or dice) the apples, put them in a bowl and cover them with the sugar, pine nuts, lemon rind, cinnamon and the (squeezed) raisin. Mix and – guess what?  – set aside, but don’t stop working or the sugar will melt too much. No, you can’t put it all in the fridge, or the flavors won’t mix. So… the next step is to melt the butter in a small pot, recover the pastry dough and start putting it all together. Take a cotton rag, sprinkle some flour on it, then use a rolling pin to flatten the pastry into a rectangle shape. Brush the butter all over it – except the borders! – and sprinkle the toasted breadcrumbs over it. Now set the apple mix on the buttered part of the pastry, and using the rag roll the dough along the longest side. Close the roll on each side by pressing on the dough: this is important, or the filling will ooze all out during cooking. Place the roll on a sheet of oven paper and over a baking tray, brush it with molten butter and cook it in the oven (half an hour at 180° C in a ventilated oven). When the strudel is ready, sprinkle it with the powdered sugar, slice it and – as soon as it isn’t as hot as lava anymore – enjoy!