Rolling in Strudel

As  a child, I remember visiting my Aunt Joyce (Neunaber Bishop) who was my father’s sister and she was rolling out some Apple Strudel meant for our dessert that evening. My mom never made strudel that I recalled and I was fascinated by the process. The layered dough, already flattened, accepted a mound of apples, nuts, sugars, and raisins. She rolled it all together and baked the sweet treat until the aroma wafted through their home creating the most cozy atmosphere while the cousins played board games in the living room.

Photo by Adrian Frentescu on

When I married, relatives gave me a spiral notebook with family favorite recipes. Although the book did not hold Aunt Joyce’s strudel recipe, I promptly found one in one of my mother’s women’s magazines where I clipped it out and added it to the homemade recipe book. I still have both the book and the recipe after 45 years of marriage. I must admit, I have only used it a handful of times during all those years. The book itself is falling apart as you can see.

Strudel has been around for hundreds of years and is actually related to Baklava. The Turkish Baklava pastry arrived in Austria in 1453 as the Ottoman Empire tried to invade Vienna. The oldest known handwritten recipe for strudel is a 1696 note  at the Viennese City Library. All About Strudel.

Vienna Rathaus

The German word strudel means ‘whirlpool’ or ‘eddy’ and is so named because of the shape of the pastry. It is wrapped as a big swirl. In fact, the word strudel is also the word for the Hebrew @ sign,  called a shtrudel שטרודל.  That same symbol has different terms in several languages.

  • Czech/Slovak: zavinac “rollmops (a rolled fillet of herring)”
  • Danish: snabel-a “a with an elephant’s trunk” or, less common, grisehale “pig’s tail”
  • Dutch: apestaart/apestaartje “monkey tail” (the -je form is diminutive)
  • Finnish: kissanhäntä “cat’s tail”
  • German: Klammeraffe “spider monkey (literally “clinging monkey”), Ohr “ear”, Affenschwanz (Zurich) “monkey’s tail”

While the @ sign might not conjure images of an apple pastry, there are nearly as many layers to the word as to the dessert. Hebrew Language Detective: strudel

shtrudel שטרודל.

 The transition from the Turkish havens to the Balkan Peninsula traveled up to Hungary when Hungary, in 1699, became part of the Austrian Empire, these sweets of rolled puff pastry arrived soon in Vienna, where they were called strudel for the roll or whirl.  The improvement of the strudel recipe is ascribed to the Austrian confectioners that made it famous, together with the puff pastry, light and rolled out thinly and the filling tied with the typical ingredients of the territory. The classic Viennese recipe of the Apfelstrudel foresees a filling of apples, raisin and pine nuts, however in other Austrian versions they add cheese or cherries. Strudel: origins and history. From Mesopotamia to Europe

By RudolfSimon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Chef Richard Wieser, owner of I Dolci di Ricky, one of the best pastry shops in the province of Bolzano (awarded with Due Torte recognition by our Pasticceri & Pasticcerie d’Italia Guide) shared a strudel recipe online. This is the traditional one that you can try at home.

Apple strudel, raisins and pine nuts with shortcrust pastry

Ingredients for two strudels

For the shell

250 g butter

300 g sugar

Lemon zest

1 vanilla pod

500 g flour

6g chemical yeast

1 g salt

40 g milk

100 g eggs

For the filling

1,2 Kg apples

100 g sugar

100 g bread (toasted and lightly buttered)

60 g sultanas

40 g pine nuts

20 g rum

50 g lemon juice

Cinnamon to taste

To prepare the shortcrust pastry, mix the butter, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla in a large bowl until the sugar has dissolved completely. Add the dry ingredients and knead the dough using your fingertips to make it sandy. Next, add the milk and eggs, mixing well with all the other ingredients. Let the shortcrust pastry rest overnight in the fridge. In the meantime, prepare the filling: peel the apples and cut them into slices of about 3-4 mm. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them with your hands, lightly dredge the fruit with flour.

The following day, roll out the pastry to 4-5 mm thickness and cut out rectangles measuring 30 cm x 40 cm. Spread a little breadcrumbs on the dough and place the filling on it, forming a sort of sausage in the centre. Close the strudel on one side and brush with beaten egg; close the other side and repeat the procedure over the entire surface of the cake. Bake at 160°C for approximately 55 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Apple strudel: history, recipe and variations

German Strudel

It seems fitting as we say good-bye to October, that we honor the strudel since Oct 21 was National Apple Day, Oct 22 was National Nut Day. and Oct 24 was National food Day. There is no limit in what you can put in the filling of a strudel so have fun experimenting with yummy concoctions.

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