Apple Strudel Time

As Fall approaches and the apple harvest starts in earnest, it's time to think about Apple Strudel. Genuine Strudel is a Central European specialty introduced into the Austro-Hungarian Empire by the Turks. The strudel dough itself is basically a noodle dough made from flour, water, oil and salt. The magic of the dough is that, once rested, it allows itself to be stretched out gossamer thin, so thin that you could read a newspaper through it. Once extended to its proper size, any number of fillings, both sweet and savory, are possible. In Germany, apples, cherries or cheese (quark) are the most popular fillings. For a savory treat assorted wild mushrooms can be rolled into a strudel, creating a wonderful side dish to pork or wild game.

I used the word 'rolled' just now, and that is the important verb in strudel making. The word 'strudel' in the Germanic languages means 'whilpool' or 'vortex.' The filling of any strudel is literally 'rolled up' in the thin membrane of the strudel dough, which is the elastic sack that miraculously folds the whole thing together.

Our Apple Strudel filling at the Bakery is made up of a few simple ingredients: local apples from Bashista Orchards in Southampton, sugar (not too much), ground hazelnuts, raisins and cinnamon. The dough is stretched thin on a canvas cloth. It is brushed with butter and sprinkled with dried cake crumbs (to help absorb some of the excess moisture from the apples.) We prefer to use Cortland apples when available because they release less liquid when baked, but Granny Smith or Macoans work just as well. The apple filling is then carefully spread over the dough so as not to tear through it.

It is at this point that the rolling of the filling into the dough begins. We use the canvas cloth as an aid to lift and roll the dough without tearing.

The finished log is then transferred to a baking sheet using the canvas cloth and brushed with milk before it is put in the oven for baking

The finished log is cooled down and cut into sixteen servings.
The cross-section of the strudel very clearly illustrates the whirlpool effect of the filling rolled into spiral layers with the thin strudel dough. And that's how it's done. A simple dessert, low on calories, yet high on flavor. Its simplicity, however, belies the devilish trickiness of keeping the dough from tearing and producing a solid, intact log during and after baking. Like most artisan baking, the real secret is in the subtle hand and the assurance of motion of the baker.

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Bakery Normand
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Northampton, MA 01060

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