Strudel means whirl. It can also mean maelstrom. I always thought I’d end up in one of those if I ever tried to make strudel from scratch. Strudel dough is hard to make, I was convinced. You have to roll and stretch it until you could almost look through it. I thought all I would look through were the holes in the dough. Lots of them. But like with most things, it’s much easier than most people think. This weekend P. came home with some amazing local apples. He had some figs, too. And all I could suddenly think about was strudel.
Apple Fig Strudel with Pistachios
For the dough:
250 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
100 ml ( 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons) water, plus maybe 1-2 tablespoons
3 tablespoons oil
1 pinch salt
1kg (2.2 pounds) apples (Tart baking apples are best. I used Boskoop.)
4 fresh figs
50 g (1/2 cup) pistachios
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
110 g (1/2 cup) coconut oil, for brushing (or margarine)
To make the dough: Sift flour into a bowl. Add oil, water, and salt. You are looking for a very firm dough, so use as little water as possible. Just enough until you can form a ball. Knead until the dough is elastic and firm, about 5-6 minutes. Make sure the dough isn’t sticky anymore. Cover with a towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
To make the filling: Finely chop apples and figs. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent the apples from turning brown. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. The dough has to be rolled out very thinly. Usually this is done on a floured kitchen towel, which will make the strudel much easier to handle and it’s a great help when shaping the strudel.
For this method, place a kitchen towel on your working surface. Sprinkle with flour. Since the dough is very firm at the beginning, I found it easier to start rolling out the dough directly on the working surface, which I floured only minimally. But this is just a personal preference.
Start with a rolling pin and roll the dough into a thin rectangle. If the dough is very hard to handle and rolling gets difficult, let it rest for 1-2 minutes so that the gluten can relax again.
Now start stretching the dough with your fingers, until you can almost look through (If you haven’t used a kitchen towel yet, now is the time to transfer the dough.):
Use the back of your hand to stretch the middle section. Be very careful and work slowly. If necessary, let the dough rest again. If your dough tears, don’t worry. You can cut of some dough from the edges and stick it onto those holes at the end.
Place chopped fruit on the dough, leaving a large margin. Sprinkle with pistachios. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the filling. Fold over the edges and start shaping the strudel with the help of the kitchen towel. Again, work carefully and slowly.
You should be able to see the apple pieces through the dough:
Melt the coconut oil and brush the strudel with half of it. Don’t be too thrifty here. The amount of oil is necessary for a crispy crust and it will prevent your strudel from looking like a shrivelled and old tortilla. Trust me on this one. I’ve been there.
Bake the strudel for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown. Brush the dough with the remaining oil while baking. I did this every ten minutes until all the oil was gone. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla sauce or just with powdered sugar. The tart apples will be very prominent, so if you have a sweet tooth, use lots of vanilla sauce.