Peeling Back the Layers of a Danube Delicacy

A collaboration of different cultures originated this special pastry. In German, strudel translates to “whirlpool,” in reference to its swirly interior. The iconic thin layers of the traditional Viennese apple strudel attribute their origin to the Turkish baklava pastry – using a technique that crossed from the Silk Road, a famous ancient trade route, to the Danube River. While both the strudel and baklava pastries are prepared similarly, their only differences appear to be the final look and filling.  

Strudels are typically filled with a region’s ingredients, hence the apples, raisins and pine nuts from the Austrian region. Austria led the surge in popularity for this pastry in the Danube region, and variations – sweet and savory – from other European countries came along afterwards. Vienna’s City Library holds the first known handwritten recipe from the 17th century.  

Crisp apple strudels are just one of AmaWaterways’ many “favorite things.” Our expert chefs have lovingly prepared a recipe for this classic Austrian dessert that is well worth your while.  

Ingredients 

For the Strudel Dough* 

  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water 
  • 1 tablespoon, plus ½ teaspoon neutral tasting vegetable oil 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar (or lemon juice) 
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt or fine sea salt 
  • 1 cup bread flour or substitute with all-purpose flour (145 g) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil for brushing the dough 
  • Flour for dusting 

*For the dough, we recommend measuring the flour by weight in grams if you are able, since it is more accurate than measuring by volume. 

For the Filling 

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 2/3 cups fine breadcrumbs 
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 4 tablespoons raisins 
  • 3 tablespoons rum or lukewarm water for soaking the raisins 
  • 2 lbs. sweet-tart apples (e.g., Mcintosh) 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing the dough (divided) 
  • Confectioner's sugar for dusting 
  • Whipped cream for serving (optional) 

Preparation 

To Make Dough 

  • Preheat oven to 375° F. Mix water, oil, vinegar and salt in a bowl. Stir in half the flour with a spoon until well combined. Gradually add remaining flour until it comes together. 
  • Knead dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and moist. If too sticky to knead, add a little flour. Slam the dough onto the work surface a few times until elastic dough forms. 
  • Shape dough into a smooth ball. Brush a clean bowl with oil, place dough into bowl and brush it with oil. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour at room temperature. 

To Make Filling 

  • Melt butter in a pan over medium heat and add the breadcrumbs. Toast and stir until golden. Remove from heat and let cool. Mix sugar and cinnamon together, then add to the buttered breadcrumbs. Stir well and set aside. 
  • Soak the raisins in rum (traditional) or water for about 10 minutes to soften. Peel, core and cut the apples into thin slices and cover with lemon juice. Add the raisins (without the remaining rum or water) and mix well. 

Stretching Dough 

  • Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Flour the surface and dough occasionally while rolling. When at 13-15 inches in diameter, pick the dough up and use the back of your hands to stretch it out like a pizza. When the dough is bigger and thinner (or difficult to handle), place it on a lightly floured tablecloth. Smooth any wrinkles on both the tablecloth and dough. 
  • Gently stretch the dough paper-thin, working your way around the sheet of dough on the tablecloth. Ultimately, it should look translucent and be stretched into a rectangular shape, with the shorter edge fitting the baking sheet lengthwise 

Filling the Dough 

  • Brush half the dough with half of the melted butter. Spread the breadcrumb-mixture over the other half of the dough and pat down evenly. One side is brushed with butter now, the other side is covered with breadcrumbs. Leave 1 to ½ inch margin of space along the edges. 
  • Spread the apples over the breadcrumbs. Fold in the side-ends of the dough. Using a towel and starting at the apple-topped end, roll the dough all the way. Then, gently roll the strudel onto a sheet of parchment paper, seam-side down. Place the dough onto baking sheet and brush with remaining melted butter. 

Baking the Strudel 

  • Place baking sheet on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake for 30-45 minutes at 375°F until crust is golden. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Then, cut into pieces and serve dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Your apple strudel is ready – guten appetit! 

Taste one of the region’s most popular delicacies on our Danube River cruises or make this crowd-pleaser for yourself at home!  

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