The Viennese Apple Strudel is one of the pastries which belong to Vienna like the Cheese Cake to New York. This typical Austrian national dish came to Vienna from the Ottoman Empire and was mentioned for the first time at the very end of sixteen hundreds.
The main ingredient is the apple, which has to be a bit sour. I use Belle de Boskoop or any other sour apples they offer at the markets in fall. You can make an apple strudel also in summer, but the best time is fall when apples are in season. Those who have apple trees just collect the ugly and bit rotten apples from the ground. The apples should be peeled and cut in slices of different sizes, so that you get a smooth, but crunchy consistency.
As a good cook you know that taste comes from the fat you put in the food. So is the case with the strudel. The good taste comes from the bread crumbs roasted in butter and oil (I do half/half) mixed with the apples. To make it tastier we add sugar and cinnamon and a bit of lemon (juice and zest). The finesse comes from the raisins soaked in rum. In Austria we have this special Stroh rum of up to 80% volume for pastries. I use the 40% Stroh rum.
So the filling of the original Viennese Apple Strudel consists of slices of apples sprinkled with lemon juice and a bit of zest, the roasted bread crumbs in oil/butter, raisins soaked in rum, cinnamon and sugar. A variation is to add chopped, roasted wall nuts, which I personally do not like. Another variation is to add some sour cream before you roll the strudel. This is a very good idea.
The dough is simple and made out of flour, oil, an egg, water and salt. It has to be worked vigorously, rested for 1 hour, and then rolled out and stretched by hand very thinly on a clean linen tea towel. It has to be so thin, that you should be able to read a newspaper (or a love letter!) through it. How to roll and stretch the dough thinly is another story!
I buy ready strudel dough from the supermarket, which is excellent. Then I roll up the dough with the filling on top carefully with the help of the tea towel. I spread butter on it before I put in the oven. It is done when it’s golden brown after about 20 to 30 min at 200 degrees C. I take it out from the oven and spread powdered sugar on it.
For my taste the Apple Strudel is best, when you have it some hours later at room temperature. It is very good also in the next day or two.
In Vienna almost every pastry shop offers a very good apple strudel. Come to visit Vienna when travelling is possible again. On my Full Day Walking Tour Vienna you will have the possibility to try this delicacy – the original Viennese Apple Strudel.