Hand Pulled Strudel

A traditional pulled Strudel with paper-thin dough layers is a treat and as well as a culinary art. Our grandmas were masters of the technique and could slowly and patiently pull the dough so precisely that at the end it would hang over the edges of a table and you could literally read your newspaper through it (one of the signs of a perfectly pulled dough). I am yet to master this unique technique and I wish I had more patience when I was as a kid helping my Grandma with the strudel pulling. I remember waiting impatiently for the strudel to come out from the oven so all that work is finely rewarded

In Slovakia we have a nice saying:

Na dobré sa oplatí čakať (It’s worth waiting for what’s good)

and with a traditional baking, it’s true twice. The dough for pastries was always hand-kneaded for a long time as there were no standing mixers to do the work for you. Then the dough had to rest or prove for several hours, then it was pulled or shaped, then it rested again and only then we could finally bake it. After the baking, we had to wait for the pastry to cool down (which we often didn’t 🙂 and only after that we could finally bite into a delicious warm piece of a homemade pastry. When I think about it today, baking was a kind of a ritual that wasn’t supposed to be speeded up and none of the steps could be skipped. Saturday in particular was a day dedicated for baking and helping in the kitchen – I and my brother would mostly help grandma to make all those delicious pastries. We would bake in abundance and quantity to enjoy the pastry for several days and to share with neighbors and family & friend visits. It’s a sweet sentiment that I still feel when I bake our traditional pastry. It’s a no-rush time, time to take it slow and easy, enjoy the journey and be treated afterward. Sweets are a big part of our culture and culinary tradition. Walnuts, poppy seeds, tvaroh (farmer’s cheese), plum butter and seasonal fruits like apples, pears, plums, peaches were the most common filling choices

most favorite & common strudel fillings:

  • Poppy Seed Filling with or without Cherries (most usually from a compote)
  • Tvaroh (Farmer’s Cheese Filling) with or without Cherries
  • Walnut & Apple Filling
  • Apple & Cinnamon & Raisin Filling

A few tips before you start with baking:

  • use a high-protein flour (often marked as double zero – 00) to help with the dough elasticity
  • vinegar helps with gluten elasticity and even though used in a small amount, it must be there
  • the dough should be kneaded for a long time. I usually hand-knead the dough for at least 15 minutes but some recipes call for even longer kneading. The dough should be kneaded gently and for a long time. If you must/ want to use a mixer make sure to have it on a low speed (say 2 or 3 out of 10)
  • the dough must rest for long enough in order to relax gluten that was previously worked-out and stretched during the kneading. Rest your dough for an hour in a warm place
  • be patient and gentle when pulling the dough. The more helping hands the better, but you can pull the dough just by yourself as well. If the dough bounces back, let it rest for longer
  • never knead the dough again after the rest time – you would re-activate the gluten and the dough would be bouncing back during the hand-pulling
  • sometimes it helps to grease your hands before pulling the dough so the dough slides on the palms of your hands
  • when pulling, move around the table and don’t stretch one part of the dough for a long time. Simply pull and move to another place to give the dough time to rest. This way you minimise the risk of making holes in the dough as well
  • patience, practice and smile ladies and gentlemen when learning how to hand-pull the dough. Even if not perfect, it will still be a delicious hand-made treat
  • and if you’re looking for a guided, step-by-step and hands-on recipe demonstration, join me in one of my classes on Hand-Pulled Strudel

INGREDIENTS

Dough

250g, High-protein Flour

125-130g Water, warm

10g White Vinegar

45g Oil, vegetable/ canola/ sunflower

A pinch of Salt

Apple & Farmer’s Cheese Filling

(amounts are approximate)

1kg/ 2lb Apples

~ 50g Sugar

2 Teaspoons Cinnamon

Handful Dried Raisins/ Cranberries

500g Farmer’s Cheese (Tvaroh)

~ 70g Sugar

Zest from 1 Lemon

1 Egg, whole

Other

50g Butter, unsalted, melted

2-3 Tablespoons Breadcrumbs

1 Tablespoon Powder Sugar


METHOD

1.In a mixing bowl or directly on top of your work desk/ kitchen counter combine together 250g of Flour, a pinch of Salt, 125g of warm Water, 10g of White Vinegar and 45g of Oil. Mix all ingredients together with your hand until fully incorporated and continue kneading the dough on the work desk for 15-20 minutes until smooth. The dough is soft and it’s easy to knead

2. While you’re kneading the dough, let your oven preheat to the lowest temperature possible with the mixing bowl in it. Once you’re done with kneading, place your dough into a warm bowl, grease the top with a little bit of oil and cover with a clean plate. Return the bowl with the dough back into the warm oven and turn the oven off. Let your dough rest in a warm oven with the doors open for an hour or up to an hour and a half. Note: the oven should not be hot just slightly warm to rest the dough & gluten properly

3. In the meantime prepare fillings. To make an Apple Filling, peel and shred 1kg/2lb of Apples. Once shredded, squeeze the juice out of the apples as much as it gets otherwise the strudel will be soggy (reserve the apple juice for drinking and from apple peels you can make your own apple vinegar). Toss shredded & squeezed apples in Cinnamon and set aside. To make Tvaroh (Farmer’s Cheese) Filling, simply combine 500g of Cheese, 70g of Sugar, 1 whole Egg and zest from 1 Lemon. Set aside

4. Place a big clean tablecloth on top of a dining table and dust with a generous amount of flour. Place well-rested dough in the middle of the table and roll it out just a little into a small rectangle. From here start with pulling your dough with the palms of your hands, always starting from the middle pulling to the edges. As you’re pulling the dough you should be moving around the table to always pull-out different parts of the dough and always starting in the center of the dough pulling to the edges. You should pull the dough as much as it gets until you’re able to see through it. Once your dough is well-pulled, cut out and discard thick edges of the dough. Drizzle 1/3 of the total amount (50g) of melted Butter all over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of Breadcrumbs on half of the dough and spread your cinnamon-tossed apples on it. Sprinkle apples with some Sugar (the amount of sugar depends on the sweetness of apples & your taste). Sprinkle a handful of Raisins as well if you’re using them. Spread Tvaroh Filling on the other half of the dough. Note: you don’t have to spread fillings all the way to the edges

5. Using a tablecloth, start rolling the dough from one side all the way to another by simply pulling it up. If you pull the tablecloth, the dough will roll by itself and you’ll get a nice roll/ strudel. Transfer your strudel on a large sheet pan lined with parchment paper shaping a letter U it so it fits on a pan. Brush your Strudel generously with half of the remaining melted Butter (save the other half for later), place it into the oven preheated to 190°Celsius/ 400°Fahrenheit and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown

6. Once baked, brush your hot strudel with remaining butter, dust with some powdered sugar, let it cool down for a minute, slice and enjoy. The strudel stays fresh for up to three days and I usually store it on my kitchen counter covered with a few clean kitchen towels to prevent drying out. The strudel tastes great warm but honestly I love it even better cold the day after it’s baked. The thin dough layers soften and infuse the flavors overnight

Dobrú chuť,
Lenka

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