Apfelstrudel (German Apple Strudel)
Updated: May 5
Apple Strudel is a traditional and popular German and Austrian dessert, similar to apple pie in America. With a delicate, flaky, buttery crust wrapped around a juicy spiced apple filling studded with rum-soaked raisins and almonds, this beautifully impressive dessert is perfect for special occasions and holidays. Although the dough may seem a bit intimidating, it is actually fun to make and the incredible result is certainly worth the time and effort. Best served warm right out of the oven with vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream, one bite of this heavenly dessert and you’ll be in love with this Old World classic.
⅓ cup lukewarm water
1 Tbsp + ½ tsp vegetable oil
½ tsp apple cider vinegar (this relaxes the gluten to make the dough easier to stretch)
⅛ tsp salt
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
Spiced Apple Filling
6 Tbsp salted butter
⅔ cup plain or Panko bread crumbs
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
⅔ cup golden raisins
½ cup dark rum
1 ½ - 2 lbs apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (MacIntosh, Gala, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, or Cortland…I used a mixture of apples)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 Tbsp salted butter, melted
In a large bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar and salt. Stir in half of the flour with a spoon until combined. Gradually add the remaining flour and use your hands to incorporate until the dough comes together. Knead the dough with your hands until it is smooth, about 10 minutes. If the dough is too sticky to knead, add another 1-2 tablespoons of flour. The dough should be moist, but not sticky. After 10 minutes, slam the dough onto the work surface a few times to enhance the gluten development. Shape the dough into a smooth ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Lightly brush the dough ball with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
While the dough is resting, make the filling.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
After an hour, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out as thin as it will go using a floured rolling pin. When the dough becomes too thin to use a rolling pin any longer, pick the dough up with the back of your hands and use your knuckles to continue to gently and slowly stretch the dough like a pizza. (It is easiest to stretch the dough with two people. Standing in front of one another, stretch the dough with your knuckles and rotate the dough in a circle.) When the dough becomes too thin to handle, place the dough onto a lightly floured tablecloth and continue to gently and slowly stretch the dough with your hands. Stretch the dough by lifting gently from the thicker edges and pulling away from the center of the dough. Work your way around the dough lifting and stretching a little at a time until it is paper-thin and a newspaper can be read through the dough (or until you can clearly see the design of the tablecloth underneath). The dough should be nearly translucent and rectangular in shape, with the shorter edge fitting the baking sheet lengthwise. Be careful not to tear the dough. You can cut off any remaining thick bands of dough near the edges.
Brush half of the dough with half of the melted butter leaving a 1-inch border along the edges. Evenly sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the other half of the dough leaving a 1-inch border along the edges. So one half should have butter and the other half breadcrumbs. Evenly spread the apple mixture on top of the breadcrumbs.
Fold in the edges of the dough to create an envelope to contain the filling. To roll the dough, lift up the tablecloth underneath, starting from the apple end, and allow the strudel to fold or roll onto itself all the way to the edge of the buttered half to form a log. Then gently roll the strudel onto a parchment-lined baking sheet with the seam side down. Brush the top of the strudel with the remaining melted butter.
Place the baking sheet with the strudel in the middle of the preheated oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is evenly golden brown. Remove the strudel from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Then dust the top of the strudel with confectioners’ sugar, and serve warm.
Spiced Apple Filling
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs, stirring constantly until they are golden brown. Then add the almonds and heat for another 2 minutes. Remove the breadcrumb mixture from the heat and allow to cool.
Once cool, add the sugar and cinnamon to the bread crumb mixture and mix well; set aside.
Soak the raisins in the rum for at least an hour.
Place the chopped apples in a large bowl with the lemon juice and vanilla, and toss until the apples are evenly coated.
Strain the raisins, and add to the apples mixture (but not the leftover rum).