Being Croatian, štrudle od jabuka or apple strudel (along with makovnjača or poppy seed roll) have played an integral part of every holiday, from Easter to Thanksgiving to Christmas, for as long as I can remember.
I call the version made with phyllo dough “no-shame apple strudel” because honestly a little piece of my heart breaks admitting that out of sheer laziness, there was a few month period I’d used phyllo dough instead of making my own dough (gasp!). The horror, the shame of it all. In my defense though, I would never make it this way for a holiday and only on a Saturday morning as a quick breakfast. It’s not exactly the same (how could it be?), but its good in its own right and an easy introduction into strudel making if dough-making is intimidating.
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour + more for kneading
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- luke-warm water
- butter (melted)
- apples (macintosh, winesap, golden delicious, etc.)
- 1 egg (or use leftover melted butter)
- powdered sugar (optional)
In a large bowl, add the flour and stir with a fork to sift it (a little trick I picked up along the way, after frustratingly throwing out an old rusted sifter). Create a well and add the eggs, oil, and a few shakes of salt. Next add the lukewarm water, a little at a time, as you gradually stir the flour into the now forming dough. Add just enough water to incorporate all the flour. Knead the dough until smooth (note: this is very important! You want to make sure that the dough rolls out nice and thin). Divide into 2 or 3 equal pieces, place on plates, and coat with a little oil (this will prevent the dough from drying out). Set aside to rest.
Next start peeling, then shredding the apples either by hand or with a food processor. Melt the butter in the microwave, about 2 tablespoons at a time.
No shame version: Use about 5 to 7 sheets of phyllo dough, spreading a thin layer of melted butter between each sheet with a pastry brush, including the top.
Next roll out the dough VERY THIN. Literally paper thin. What I do is usually roll it out into a decent sized square and then stretch it out with my hands the way my baka taught me to make apple strudel–the same way shown in this video. As long as you kneaded the dough properly, it’s really not that hard. The weight of the dough basically does all the work for you. You just need to have a gentle touch and if it stretches too thin and a hole forms, just pinch it together again. Practice makes perfect!
Another tip: Place the stretched out dough onto a clean tablecloth (or tea towel depending on the size of the dough) sprinkled with a little flour. This will facilitate the rolling later.
Brush a little melted butter all over the dough. Squeeze the excess juice from the shredded apples and spread across the dough. Next sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top and roll the dough up like a jelly roll. Use either leftover melted butter or 1 beaten egg to coat the outside of the strudel. Puncture with a fork to let any excess steam escape as it is baking. Bake in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Just before serving, you can sprinkle powdered sugar on top to make it a bit prettier.