What do you do with three unplanned days in Vienna? If you enjoy immersing yourself in a country’s culture and possess a hearty sweet tooth, you might decide to eat your way through your stay. That’s certainly how I spent my time there, sampling variation upon variation of the Austrian national dish apple strudel.
In Austria strudel is often served with a pitcher of vanilla cream, in a pool of crème anglaise or with a side of whipped cream. Contrary to my husband’s fervent hopes, it usually doesn’t come with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. That’s fine with me. When it comes to strudel, I prefer either to eat it with just a dusting of sugar or with whipped cream added to the side. A fair amount of time, effort and space goes into making a traditional apple strudel. It’s the dough, rather than the filling, that requires the work. My short video, taken at the Café Residenz adjacent to Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace, explains the basics of authentic strudel dough.
If you lack the space or patience to roll out dough until it’s roughly three feet square and transparent enough to read a newspaper through but you still like the idea of homemade strudel, I have an utterly acceptable compromise. To save time and countertops, use commercially-prepared phyllo dough. Granted, you won’t have the most traditional strudel but you will still have a wonderful, Viennese-inspired dessert. Just think of it as strudel for time-pressed bakers or “apple strudel light.”
APPLE STRUDEL LIGHT
Makes 12 to 14 slices
for the filling:
3 1/4 pounds (6-7) apples
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs, divided
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup finely chopped almonds
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the pastry:
6 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more as needed
Confectioner’s sugar, for serving
Whipped cream, optional, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a large baking sheet and set aside.
Peel and cut the apples into matchsticks and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle the zest and juice of the lemon over the top of the apples, toss to coat and set aside.
Stir together the sugar, half of the breadcrumbs, all of the raisins, almonds and nutmeg. Set aside
Cover a flat work surface with parchment paper. Gently remove 2 sheets of phyllo dough and place this on the parchment paper. Brush the top of phyllo with melted butter and then lay 2 more sheets of phyllo on top of buttered dough. Brush melted butter over the next 2 sheets, lay 2 additional sheets on top and brush butter over them.
Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs over the buttered dough, leaving a 1-inch border without breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar mixture to apples, stir to combine and then sprinkle the vanilla extract over the filling. Stir until well-combined.
Leaving the 1-inch border intact, evenly spread the apple filling over the phyllo. Taking the long end of the dough and using the parchment paper to assist you, gently roll up the dough until you’ve formed a log. Using the remaining melted butter, seal up the ends and coat the top of the dough. Once again, using the parchment paper as an aid, slide the strudel onto the greased baking sheet.
Bake for 50 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet. Before slicing and serving, dust the top with confectioner’s sugar. Serve with optional whipped cream.