It’s fair to say apple strudel is one of those classic recipes that’s hard to say no to come dessert time. This old-fashioned, traditional Viennese dish typically uses a simple ingredients list of apples, raisins, sugar and cinnamon, and is encased in a thin sheet of flaky pastry.
While the delectable dessert is perfect on its own, it tastes even better with a vanilla sauce, whipped cream or a scoop of ice-cream, and is a surefire winner to dish up to guests after dinner.
The first recipe for apple strudel dates back to the 17th century. Most fascinating however, is where it comes from. While strudel comes from the German word ‘whirlpool’ (referring to the way the pastry is rolled around the filling to form many layers), the dessert is actually a traditional Austrian pastry originating from Vienna, Le Cordon Bleu’s pastry chef Daniele Panetta explains. Apple strudel has since become one of Austria’s national dishes.
However, the paper-thin pastry that defines strudel (as well as other closely related pastries like baklava), was actually invented in Istanbul under the Ottoman empire around 1500.
Even though the steps to perfect apple strudel are easy, strudel dough has a reputation for being notoriously difficult, so keeping a few tricks on-hand can make all the difference.
When making the pastry dough, Daniele says not to add all the liquid (milk, water or a combination of both) at once. “Reserve 10 per cent of the liquid to assess how much more is required as you go,” he recommends.
Make your pastry dough the day before, wrap it in glad wrap and let it rest overnight in the fridge. Daniele suggests resting the dough for 18 hours minimum and if possible even for as long as 24 hours. The most important thing is to get the pastry super thin. How thin? Daniele recommends making it so thin you can read a magazine or book from underneath it!
The quality and freshness of ingredients has a major impact on the outcome of your apple strudel, particularly the fruit. Daniele advises picking apples with no bruises or marks. His favourite are Granny Smith due to their sweet and sour flavour.
For extra texture, he recommends adding sultanas to your apple mix. Sometimes when a strudel is overcooked it can turn the filling into puree, adding sultanas ensures there is still something to chew on.
Another hot tip is to use either breadcrumbs, sponge crumbs or uncoloured macaroon crumbs in your filling to absorb any moisture from the apple.
Sounds tasty? Here’s how to make it!