Oktoberfest: Apple Strudel

This is the final post on the Oktoberfest theme. I hope you've enjoyed it and will try some of the recipes.

I will not be posting again until October 29. I'm hosting a party for my mother's 75th birthday and will be running around like crazy next week. I hope I can remember to take pictures. I'll have some tips to share about organizing, about estimating how much food to serve for large groups and other ideas I've learned and mistakes I'm sure to make. The birthday party isn't a tea but some of the foods I'll be serving are tea foods.

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 T. plus 1 tsp. neutral oil
13 T. lukewarm water
*Filling I*
7 T. butter
1 c. breadcrumbs
*Filling II*
1/2 c. raisins (traditional, but optional)
4 T. rum (optional) or orange juice
6-8 c. chopped baking apples (5-6 large apples such as Gala or Granny Smith)
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1-2 tsp. lemon zest
4 T. lemon juice (about 1/2 large lemon)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Melted butter for brushing dough (almost a whole stick or 1/2 cup)
Powdered sugar for decoration

To make the dough: Place the flour in a bowl with the salt and add the water, then the oil. Stir with a spoon until it comes together and you can work it with your hands. Knead the dough until it is smooth and tacky, but not sticky, about 5 minutes. If you need to add more flour, only add it 1 teaspoon at a time. Form the dough into a smooth ball, brush it with a little oil and place it back in the bowl for 1 hour, room temperature. Covering the dough with plastic wrap is fine, too.

Make Filling I: Heat the butter in a pan until foaming and add the breadcrumbs. Toast them, stirring constantly, until they are medium brown. Let cool.

Make Filling II: Soak the raisins in the rum (or orange juice). You can heat them for 30 seconds in the microwave and then soak them until you are ready for them. Peel, core and chop the apples into small pieces. Add the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, raisins and cinnamon and mix well.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to about 9 inches by 13 inches. Lightly flour a clean towel with no nap, place it over the dough, grab both (towel and dough) and flip over. Straighten both, as necessary. Using your hands, gently stretch the dough thinner on all sides, working your way around the sheet of dough. Stretch it until it starts to look translucent in spots. Let it rest a minute and stretch the areas you think are too thick, again. Thick edges can't be avoided and will be cut off. Brush dough with melted butter. Spread the breadcrumbs over 2/3 of the dough and pat down evenly. Drain the apples and spread them over the other 1/3 of the dough. Cut off any thick edges of dough with kitchen shears. Using the towel, fold one side of the dough over the filling. Brush exposed dough with melted butter. Fold in ends of dough like an envelope (or burrito). Fold other side of dough up and over filling to form a roll. Brush with butter. Use towel to maneuver strudel to baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll strudel onto parchment paper so that the seam-side is down. Brush with melted butter.

Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes and then at 350°F for 40-60 minutes longer. Remove from oven, brush top with melted butter and sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm. Transfer to a serving platter with a large spatula (or two). Cut into 1 1/2 inch wide slices with a bread knife or serrated knife and serve with your choice:
Whipped cream
Vanilla sauce
Vanilla ice cream

Tips: If you are planning on serving the strudel the next day, leave on parchment paper and cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel. Place out of reach. Recrisp in oven, warming in microwave not as good.

Practice making strudel BEFORE you want to serve it. Make it at least once before the big day to see which steps you need to watch.

Err on the side of thicker dough. If you stretch it too thin (you know, Oma always says you should be able to read a newspaper through it!) before you put the filling in, when you wrap it you will stretch it more, and it might tear. Tearing causes the liquid to evaporate when baked, instead of steaming inside the package. It won't ruin your strudel, but it will not be perfect.