It’s apple season here in Southern Germany, which means there is lots of delicious baking happening. Round these parts that is less likely to mean apple pie and more likely to mean German Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel).
Just like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music, crisp apple strudels are definitely one of my favourite things, and with my step-by-step instructions below you’ll be whipping one up at home in no time.
What is an Apple Strudel?
Apple strudel is a traditional German and Austrian dessert made from diced apples, cinnamon and sugar, all rolled up in a very thin, flaky pastry. It has origins in the Austro-Hungarian empire, though the style of dough is likely an offshoot of phyllo/filo dough of the Middle and Near East.
The German word strudel actually means whirlpool or swirl, and it describes the spiral of dough in the middle of this tasty treat.
Is it difficult to make a strudel?
Strudel has a little bit of a bad reputation for being tricky, but it really just requires a bit of bench space and a clear kitchen.
Because the strudel dough is rolled out very large and thin, you’ll want to make sure you have a large work surface and no clutter before you start.
Apple Strudel is made with simple ingredients and a little goes a long way. To make a strudel, you’ll need:
- Flour, egg, oil and vinegar: These simple ingredients combine to make the strudel dough.
- Apples: It’s best to use a tart variety like granny smith or Braeburn for baking as they have the best flavour.
- Rum and raisins: Rum-soaked raisins add a delicious chew to a traditional strudel.
- Lemon zest, vanilla and cinnamon: to add freshness and spice.
- Breadcrumbs: The secret ingredient in lots of German baking! The breadcrumbs will soak up the extra juices, meaning you won’t end up with soggy dough.
How to make German Apple Strudel
Making Strudel has four major steps:
- First, stir together the ingredients for the dough, then give it a quick knead. Then wrap it well and transfer it to the fridge to rest.
- While the dough is resting, peel, quarter and core the apples, then dice finely. Toss the apples together with the other filling ingredients and set them aside.
- When the dough has rested, it needs to be rolled out to a large rectangle. Strudel dough is supposed rolled out so thinly that you should be able to read a newspaper through it! (Do yourself a favour on your first go at making strudel, only roll it out as far as you feel comfortable with. It will still be delicious, I promise.
- Lastly, the dough is spread with butter, breadcrumbs and the apple mixture, then rolled up and baked to golden brown perfection. All that’s left to do is slice it and serve it with whipped cream, ice cream or vanilla sauce. Guten Appetit!
There is no special equipment needed to make a strudel as it is all done by hand. It will make your life much easier to have a good, sharp knife for cutting the apples.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I make an apple strudel without nuts or alcohol?
Yes! Just leave them out.
How do I store apple strudel?
Once the strudel has cooled, you can keep it in the fridge for a day or two. Strudel can be frozen and reheated.
Can I make strudel with store-bought dough?
Here in Germany, you can buy Strudelteig (strudel dough) at any major supermarket, though it isn’t as easy to find overseas.
My homemade strudel dough is very easy to make, so give it a try! As an alternative, you can use several layers of phyllo dough (filo dough) each brushed with butter.
Looking for more delicious German recipes?
for the strudel dough:
- 175g (1 + ½ cups) plain or all-purpose flour
- 1 medium egg
- 1 Tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tsp vinegar
- pinch of salt
for the apple filling:
- 75g (½ cup) raisins
- 2 Tbsp rum
- 5-6 large granny smith apples (approx 850g / 1.75 lb)
- 75g (⅓ cup) sugar
- 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 50g (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 50g (⅓ cup) dry bread crumbs
- 4 Tbsp chopped or flaked almonds
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- MAKE THE STRUDEL DOUGH: Combine all dough ingredients with 50ml (3 Tbsp) of cold water in a mixing bowl. Use a fork to stir together to a shaggy dough, then turn out onto a floured work surface and knead for a minute or two until smooth. Dust with flour, wrap in cling film and let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- MAKE THE FILLING: Stir the raisins and rum together in a small bowl and set aside. Peel, quarter and core the apples. Cut each quarter into 6 slices, then turn and slice again into small pieces. In a large bowl, toss the apples together with the rum-soaked raisins, sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice and vanilla. Set aside.
- HEAT THE OVEN: Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4 and line a large rimmed baking sheet with baking parchment paper.
- ROLL OUT THE DOUGH: On a large floured surface roll out the dough to a large rectangle of approximately 30x40cm (12x16 in.) Be gentle as the dough will be very thin (you should be able to see the pattern of the towel through it in the next step).
- FILL THE STRUDEL: Carefully lift the dough (use the back of your hands) onto a large, clean tea towel. Brush generously all over with melted butter, scatter evenly with the breadcrumbs, then spread the apple mixture and any apple juice over the dough in one layer, thieving a 3cm (1.5 in.) border all the way around.
- ROLL THE STRUDEL: Fold the sides of the strudel in, then use the tea towel to carefully roll the strudel up, starting with a short side of the dough. Use the tea towel to transfer the strudel to the prepared tray and brush it with the remaining butter.
- BAKE: Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour until golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature before dusting generously with powdered sugar.
- SERVE: Slice and serve your delicious apple strudel with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
You can use any tart apple variety to make apple strudel. I recommend granny smith or Braeburn.
For best and most accurate results I use and recommend a digital kitchen scale like the one below. Imperial and cup measurements are approximate.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 323Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 114mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 8gSugar: 23gProtein: 6g
Nutrition is calculated automatically and may not always be accurate.
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