UP CLOSE WITH HISTORY
Sailing with Viking River Cruises we enjoyed a variety of local favorites, sourced from the regions we passed along the river Danube. Apple Strudel is a popular pastry in Austria and in many countries in Europe that once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire that ruled from 1867–1918. Around the day we visited Vienna on Viking Odin, Executive Chef Loan held the first of several cooking demonstrations. Inviting passengers to work alongside the highly-skilled chef brought the experience home as did Chef Loan’s tips and tricks for handling the paper-thin pastry dough.
Making apple strudel dough from scratch is notoriously difficult and time-consuming. Here, we’ve simplified this recipe using widely available frozen puff pastry dough so you can create a similar treat easily in your own kitchen. Strudels are a well-known central and eastern European treat; enjoy them on our Rhine and Danube cruises.
One sheet (half box) frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
One-half cup sugar
One-quarter cup finely chopped walnuts
Five tablespoons raisins
One-half teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
One teaspoon cinnamon
Two or three Pippin or Granny Smith apples (approximately three cups chopped)
One tablespoon toasted plain dry bread crumbs
Two tablespoons melted butter
Preheat oven to 400°F. On a very lightly floured, plain-weave kitchen towel, lay out puff pastry dough. Lightly flour top and gently roll out to a thin rectangle about 14″ x 17″, sealing any tears in the dough. Dough will be quite thin; do not over-handle. Set aside, keeping dough on towel.
Peel, core and chop apples into small chunks. Toss with sugar, walnuts, raisins, lemon peel and cinnamon.
Lightly brush dough with one-quarter of the melted butter. Sprinkle with dry bread crumbs. Add apple mixture in the center of dough, leaving a 1″ margin around the filling. Fold in 1″ along three sides of the dough, leaving one long side unfolded. Moisten all folded edges and remaining flat dough edge lightly with water. Using the towel to assist you, roll the dough toward the unfolded edge, enclosing the filling. Press gently but firmly on bottom seam and sides to seal.
Using the towel as a sling, transfer strudel seam-side down to a cookie sheet; gently remove towel. Brush lightly with the remaining melted butter, and prick sparingly along the top with a fork. Bake about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Cut crosswise into 12 pieces and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or a vanilla custard sauce.
Makes 12 servings.