BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Alt-Art Apfelstrüdel (old-style apple pastry)

ALT-ART APFELSTRÜDEL
AUSTRIA
old-style apple pastry

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The ascent of strudel was thought to have reached its nadir when this delicate pastry came to epitomise the Viennese kitchen in the 1800s.

The thinly drawn dough that makes the strudel iconic has its origins in ancient Assyria. It was associated with the Ottoman Turks and the Spanish Moors, and known as Spanish Dough in cookbooks of the 1700s. By then it was an established aspect of pastry baking throughout the period of the Austro-Hungarian empire, moving westwards from Budapest to Vienna and Salzburg.

The strudel went through various changes until it started to resemble a coiled pastry.

Fillings included beans, cheese, fruit, gourds, leaf and root vegetables, meat, nuts and seeds and rice.

When Anna Dorn mentioned ‘solid apple strudel’ in the Great Viennese Cookbook in 1827, the strudel had been boiled and baked over open fires for 200 years.

Strudel cookery changed with the emergence of oven baking and white flour. The translucent dough became crispy, and the apple strudel became legendary.

Ground cinnamon, soaked raisins and toasted breadcrumbs (from kipfel bread) complimented the tart apple filling to produce a sweet-sour taste.

In Vienna sour cream was added to accentuate that sourness. In Salzburg the apfelstrudel was sweetened and softened with warm milk.

In Berlin kirsch was added to the raisins and walnuts were included in the filling.

Sugar was used to offset the acidity of the tart apples, which included a range that became known as ‘strudler apples’. Gradually, throughout the 20th century, apfelstrudel epitomised the art of the Viennese patisserie, and its Assyrian, Arabian, Moorish and Turkish origins were forgotten.

This is altweiner apfelstrudel, old style strudel.

Dough

300 g flour
160 g water
30 g oil
Salt, large pinch

Filling

1.5 kg apples, peeled, cored, cut into 3 mm slices
250 ml sour cream (optional)
200 g caster sugar

125 g breadcrumbs
125 g raisins
90 g butter

Finish

100 g icing sugar
60 g butter

Combine flour, salt, oil and water, knead into a smooth dough, cover with cling-film, leave for 45 minutes. Melt butter in frying pan, increase heat and fry breadcrumbs. Remove from heat, mix in sugar. Place dough on a floured cloth, roll out until transparent. Preheat oven to 220°C.

Spread sweetened breadcrumbs and raisins along a third of the dough. Arrange apple slices on top. If using cream spoon onto apples. Dress the other two-thirds of dough with melted butter. Using the cloth, fold the buttered dough over the filled dough, seal at ends, brush surface with melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes.

Take out and brush with remaining butter. Bake for 15 minutes.

While the strudel is still warm, sprinkle with icing sugar.