Friday 26 December 2014

Viennese Apple Strudel

When I visited Vienna in November we went to the Schonbrunn Palace. As part of our Winter Pass ticket, we got entry to the Apple Strudel Show: a demonstration of how to make apple strudel with a piece to try.

Apple Strudel is said to originate from Austria and is a Viennese speciality in particular and the oldest known copy of a strudel recipe is a library in Vienna.

The demonstration was entirely in English which was lucky as though I speak German my boyfriend does not. As it was winter there were only a few of us watching; I don't think the other people were English and there were a couple of children who probably wouldn't have understood anything so I think we were quite lucky!

The demonstrator showed us how to make the pastry from scratch and after rolling it out, she used her hands to spread the dough further, much as people do when they are making pizza bases. She even threw the dough into the air and caught it a few times!

She explained that the dough needed to be thin enough that you could read the recipe through it, and proceeded to show us, which was amazing!

The filling was already prepared in a large bowl; she explained that it included apple, raisins, breadcrumbs and sugar, and then we watched as she placed some of the filling along one side of the dough and rolled it up using a tea towel. Part of the reason for this is that you end up with the rolled up strudel sitting on the tea towel, which makes it much easier to lift and transport to your baking tray.

The strudel went in the oven and I was expecting her to do a 'here's one I made earlier' and take the strudel from the previous demonstration out of the oven, but she didn't and the demonstration ended as the strudel went in the oven, so we didn't get to see it when it was cooked. We did get a piece to eat from a strudel which had been made earlier, served cold, which was really delicious.

We were also given a copy of the recipe to take home and since my boyfriend doesn't like apple, I decided I would make an apple strudel to take to his mum's house on Boxing Day as there would be plenty of people there to help eat it. I made the strudel on Christmas Eve as I knew I would be too busy after that!

To make the pastry, you need:
250g flour type 700 - I'd no idea what this was so used plain flour
2g salt
1 egg
100g lukewarm water (note that is grams, not millilitres)
20g oil

Preheat the oven to 190C. Mix all the ingredients and knead until you have a soft dough - I used my Kitchenaid. Form into a ball and "let it rest in vegetable oil for 30 minutes". I wasn't sure if this meant literally put the dough in a bowl of oil as that seemed like a lot of oil, so instead I rubbed oil all over the dough. My dough had been very wet and sticky but surprisingly the oil took away all of the stickiness.

Heat 50g butter in a pan and fry 100g fresh breadcrumbs until they are golden brown.

To make the filling, mix the breadcrumbs with 140g sugar, 10g cinnamon, 170g raisins, 10g lemon juice and about 1 kg peeled and thinly sliced apples, and a shot of rum. I used about half that amount of apples as it looked like an awful lot, and I knew I wouldn't be able to stretch my pastry out as big as the demonstrator so I didn't think I would need quite as much filling! I also left out the rum.

Roll out the dough on a floured tea towel. Use your hands to stretch it as thinly as possible. I wasn't quite throwing mine in the air and catching it like the demonstrator did, but it was a surprisingly pliable dough and easy to stretch.

I even tried the 'can you read the recipe through your dough' trick and I could - I was amazed as I'm not normally very good at making pastry!

Place the filling along one side of the dough, and use the tea towel to help you roll it up

It just fit into my grill pan with the grill part removed - none of my actual baking trays were big enough!

The recipe said to bake in the oven at 190C until golden brown - it didn't actually give a cooking time. I think I baked mine for about 25 minutes but you really do just need to keep an eye on it. Here's what it looks like from the inside: I can't wait to try it later today!

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