Sunday, October 18, 2015

Easy Bavarian Style Apple Strudel (Apfel Strudel)

When my mother passed away, in October 2002, we held an Oktoberfest memorial service for her. To know my Mutti, she loved a party, loved to dance, and thrived at being the center of attention.

 Rather than having a somber service, we had a fully catered German buffet with Bavarian music playing. I think she would have been very pleased with that.

My Mutti, dancing with my, then, one year old son.
Since then, I have hosted an annual Oktoberfest, for my immediate family, as a way to honor our Mutti's memory.  Being the only daughter, it looks like I'm the one to carry on my mother's traditional Bavarian recipes-- that includes her Austrian Goulash, Semmel Knoedel, German potato salad and homemade spaetzle.  
It occurred to me that I had never made homemade Apple Strudel-- the equivalent to American Apple Pie.  I also realized that my Mutti never taught me how to make one. Well, it was high time that I did so!  After researching a lot of internet recipes, cookbooks and Youtube videos, so many versions included bread crumbs and nuts.  I scratched my head, as I clearly don't remember either of these ingredients from any Apfel Strudel that I'd had.

So, I called my mother's first cousin, who is an excellent cook and baker.  She explained that bread crumbs and nuts are ingredients more commonly used, in strudel,  in the northern parts of Germany. In Bavaria, her mother's recipe used fresh apples, raisins, cinnamon, sugar. Making authentic strudel dough can be laborious, because you have to roll and stretch it so thin, that you can read a newspaper through it!  We both agreed that frozen puff pastry would make a perfect substitute.  So, I thawed a package of puff pastry in the refrigerator the night before our Oktoberfest.

I use two Granny Smith apples and one Jonigold apple.  Golden delicious apples would work great, too.  I used my handy dandy apple peeler to easily peel, core and thinly slice the apples in less than one minute!  I buy Boiled Cider from King Arthur Flour and I love this ingredient! I added a couple of Tablespoons anytime I'm making an apple fruit filling and it is so tasty.  To the apples, I added some sugar, cinnamon and golden raisins. As a thickener I added some Instant Clearjel to the sugar (I buy this product at King Arthur Flour as well...and this is the best fruit filling thickener-- ever!)

I learned that by placing a sheet of puff pastry on top of a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, it's very easy to roll the dough around the fruit filling.
After rolling the puff pastry sheet into a rectangle (sorry, I don't measure but I gently rolled it until the "wrinkles" were worked out and not too paper thin).  I then brushed melted butter over the puff pastry sheet and I added a thin layer of sour cream.  My cousin explained that her mother did this for decades, and her filling was never dry.  So, that's what I did. In the top right photo collage (below) you might see that I simply lifted the parchment paper and used it to roll the left side of the dough on top of the filling.  I then lifted the opposite side of the parchment paper to close the dough.  I pressed together the seams, and use the paper to gently roll the strudel over, seam sides down. 

Our doorbell rang, with the arrival of my two brothers.  So, I placed the apple strudel into the refrigerator to keep the puff pastry nice and cold, and to get the party started.
Just before I was ready to set all of the German entrees and side dishes on the table, I whisked an egg with a little water-- then cut a few slits on top of the pastry and sprinkled some coarse sanding sugar and baked it at 400F for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown.

Here is the strudel, fresh from the oven.  I set them on a cooling rack, while our guests enjoyed dinner and plenty of German beer.

Nightfall had already happened, by the time we got around to having dessert, so the ideal light for photography was gone, I am sorry to say.  As I sliced into the warm apple strudel, I noticed that the apples were thoroughly cooked and the filling wasn't runny.  (Big sigh of relief.) I dusted this slice with powdered sugar...

But, fresh whipped cream is one of my favorite garnishes with apple strudel.

TASTING NOTES: Puff pastry is perfect as a substitute for making homemade dough. It's light and buttery. I only used a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon, and that worked well for me. Serving this room temperature (or just warm) is the ideal way to enjoy this dessert.  The next day, it's still good but the pastry seems to get a bit tougher.

So, here I am-- wearing my Mutti's red hat and her choker necklace. 

 ...and here is my Mutti, wearing that very red hat.  See what I mean? She loved a good party and loved to ham it up for a camera.  Prost, Mutti!  I hope I made you proud! We had a great Oktoberfest, as always. Making all the Bavarian dishes that my family loves was met with heartfelt thanks and appreciation.  I only wish my Mutti had been able to enjoy the recipes that she taught me how to make. 

Guten apetit! 

Here's the printable recipe card:

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Proud Italian Cook said...

This is a beautiful post Deb and your Mutti would be very happy. I loved how you had a catered party instead of a somber service for her, that's exactly what I would want!

Kate said...

You have done a great job paying tribute to your Mutti over the years. This Apfel Strudel is certain to do her proud!

Big Dude said...

Looks delicious Debbie and since I prefer the crust to the pie filling I believe this would be right up my alley.

Anonymous said...

How Very Beautiful. The Post, Your Beloved Mutti And Most Of All You! Thank You For Sharing.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I smiled looking at the photos of your mutti and I can just imagine what a fun-loving person she was. I'm sure you must miss her so, but what better way to pay tribute to her than to carry on with her traditions. Wonderful.

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

Oh, Debby, what a touching post. I know your Mutti would have been happy to see her family celebrating her life and your German heritage. I can't think of a better tribute. I've never made apple strudel because it sounds like such a daunting task but I can't resist your recipe. My family will love me if I made this for them.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

What a lovely post and I know your Mutti was looking down on you all with a big smile. She would be so pleased with your Octoberfest tradition. Your strudel looks just like the ones I've had in both Germany and Austria.

Anonymous said...

Debby, please see my comment under "Ask a Question" on the recipe side. At the time I posted it, I could not reach this comment spot. Stuff happens. You are most welcome to transfer that quick note to this space if you wish. And YES! the Apple Strudel makes the O'fest menu complete. With p-paste in the freezer and apples coming out my ears, Saturday is the day for several of these. IMO, far better than ordinary pie and easier to make. Thank you. -Craig. (The other one) said...

Great dessert, looks so delicious and full of memories. I like apple pie very much, I am sure I will love this. Another variation I want to try, maybe banana in this. :)

Velva said...

Debi, I can't think of a better way to honor someone you love than with a good meal. Love, love posts just like this one. It reminds me why I enjoy food so much. Your apple strudel? Its hard to believe this was your first time making it-wow! Cup of coffee please!