I’ve made apple strudel many times before, although not for a long time. But I’ve been wanting to make it again ever since enjoying the wonderful version I had at Cafe Landtmann in Vienna a couple of months ago – said to be the original.
It was gorgeous. Traditionally it’s served with cream, vanilla sauce (never called custard!) or just plain. It was also served slightly warm.
The most obvious place to go in search of a recipe (for I can’t remember whose recipe I used years ago) was the cafe’s website. And indeed, there I did find a recipe. They assumed – not unreasonably – that I would make the pastry myself. But that wasn’t going to happen. I do make pastry; I don’t buy it ready made. And I often make it by hand rather than in a food processor because I think it comes out better that way. But no, I don’t make filo pastry. That’s the exception; that I do buy.
I also looked at Rick Stein’s recipe from his recent Long Weekends series on TV. I love the series (and happily there are more episodes to come in the autumn) because Rick is doing what I love best – well, one of the things I love best! – and that’s going on weekend breaks to great cities. Vienna was in the first series and was especially exciting as it was shown just before my own trip there, and we do indeed see Rick tucking into a very fine apple strudel – in Cafe Landtmann, no less! His recipe is almost exactly the same as theirs, but with a few more instructions and slightly different amounts of the ingredients. Having faith in Rick’s reliable recipes, I decided to follow his instructions, though I was clearly going to end up with much the same result either way.
- 750g Bramley (cooking) apples
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ unwaxed lemon, zest only
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 75g raisins
- 95g butter
- 40g white breadcrumbs
- 6 large sheets filo pastry
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 190C/170 Fan/Gas 5. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
I’d bought a pack of ready-made filo pastry.
Next I peeled, cored and quartered the apples and cut them into slices.
They started to brown quite quickly so I put the 2 teaspoons of lemon juice in to keep them as fresh as I could while I cut the rest of the apples up. Then I mixed in the cinnamon, lemon zest, sugar and raisins.
Next melt 20g of the butter in a small saucepan. I made fresh breadcrumbs from the remains of a sourdough loaf that was getting a bit old. I find I can do small amounts with my hand blender in an upright container. Tip the breadcrumbs into the melted butter and stir constantly while you fry the breadcrumbs until they are golden brown.
Tip the breadcrumbs into the apple mixture and mix well together.
Now your filling is ready and you need to get the pastry prepared. Melt the rest of the butter (75g). Lay a clean tea towel on a clean surface. Lay the first sheet of filo pastry on top and brush with some of the melted butter.
Lay another sheet of pastry on top, brush with melted butter, and keep going until all the pastry is used up (there should be a little butter left). Now carefully tip the filling along one long side, leaving about 2-3cm at the edge.
It did seem like a lot of filling and I wondered if my filo sheets were the ‘large’ size Rick wrote of in his recipe. Well, there hadn’t been a choice in the supermarket. It would have to do. Use the tea towel to help you very carefully roll up the pastry to enfold the filling, tucking the ends in. Then transfer to the lined baking tray with the ‘seam’ side of the strudel on the bottom. Brush the remaining melted butter over the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until golden brown.
The smell as I opened the oven was wonderful. The strudel seemed to have spread in the middle. I hoped it would all hold together when it came to serving it – although really, as long as it tasted good, it would be OK. Leave it to cool to room temperature then dust with the icing sugar.
It was so huge, and with only three of us to eat it, I decided to cut it in half and freeze half. It was a bit soggy at the bottom (maybe that explains why Cafe Landtmann put a lot more breadcrumbs in their version) and I could see the apple was quite mushy. Maybe another time I’d not cut the apple slices quite so thin. But really, the test was in the eating. How did it taste?
It tasted delicious. The filling – despite my worries that it looked overdone – was wonderful and had such a glorious flavour. It was just perfect. Thank you, Rick! I wasn’t quite so happy with my pastry … maybe I do need to make my own! But all in all, it was a great dessert and brought back happy memories of Vienna and the fabulous Cafe Landtmann, which was my favourite cafe there.