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.
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.
Here's the printable recipe card: