Strudel Dough

Strudelteig (German)

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    1

    strudel

Appears in

Strudel dough just looks difficult to prepare. The biggest stumbling block for American cooks was finding the right flour. Now that unbleached flour is in every market, the next step is to find the right space to pull it—a space that allows access to the dough on all sides. I pull my strudel dough on the 23 X 49-inch wooden pastry worktop in my kitchen. You can use your kitchen or dining-room table of a similar size, or even a card table. Some bakers recommend a circular table, but I don’t see the advantage of that, because you want a rectangular shape. Whether it’s pulled into a square, rectangle, oblong, or circle, however, the dough will still work.

Ingredients

  • 1⅓ cups unbleached flour
  • teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons water, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
  • ½ teaspoon cider vinegar

Method

  1. Measure the flour and salt into the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle blade. Mix the water, oil, and vinegar in a glass measuring cup. With the machine on low speed, add the liquid to the flour and mix to form a soft dough (remember the dough must be soft enough to pull and stretch, so add a bit more water if needed). Gather the dough into a ball. Change to the dough hook. Knead the dough on medium-low speed to make a soft ball of dough with a somewhat rough surface.
  2. Transfer the dough to an unfloured work surface. Knead by hand, occasionally picking up the dough and throwing it down hard onto the surface, for 1 to 2 minutes. Gather the dough into a ball. Place the dough on a plate. Lightly oil the top of the dough. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand for at least 30 and up to 90 minutes, the longer the better.
  3. Choose a work area that you can walk around on all sides (such as a 36-inch round table or a rectangular table or work surface about 23 X 48 inches) and cover with a tablecloth. Dust well with flour and rub the flour into the tablecloth. Place the dough in the center of the cloth and roll out as much as you can (photograph 1). Hold the dough by an edge and pick it up. Letting gravity and the weight of the dough help stretch the dough as it hangs, use the backs of your hands to gently pull and stretch the dough. As the dough stretches, use your forearms to support it (2).
  4. When the dough becomes too large to hold, place it on the work surface, leaving the thicker edge of the dough to hang over one edge of the table. Slip your hands underneath the dough and use the backs of your hands to stretch and pull the dough even thinner (3); anchor the edge of the dough hanging over the table with your hip to give the dough additional tension. Continue pulling and stretching (you don’t have to use the backs of your hands, as long as you are careful not to pull too hard), until it is tissue-thin and about 2 feet wide and 3 feet long. For additional anchorage, pull the edge of the tablecloth up to cover the dough, and weigh it down with a heavy can or other object. Don’t worry about a few small holes, as they will disappear when the strudel is rolled. Using scissors, trim away and discard the thick dough around the edges. The dough is now ready to fill.

    Here are some other tips for strudel dough.

  • The first (or second or third) time you make strudel, make two batches of dough; the ingredients are inexpensive. This way if your first dough is less than perfect, you have a backup to try again. Strudel makers and Carnegie Hall aspirants have something in common: practice, practice, practice.
  • The fabric for the tablecloth isn’t important, cotton or polyester will do. But it helps if it is patterned, for if you can clearly see the pattern underneath the dough, it’s been pulled thin enough.
  • When kneading the dough, give it a few hard throws against the work surface to help develop the gluten. Get aggressive, and really throw! It will make the dough easier to stretch.
  • Most bakeries use two people to pull the dough, with one person anchoring the dough as the other person stretches it, or with both people gently stretching the dough in opposite directions. The instructions above assume that only one person will be pulling the dough. If you have a friend to help you, so much the better.
  • Don’t be daunted by the surface area of the pulled dough.
  • Before pulling the dough, remove all of your jewelry (large rings, watch, bracelets) and wear a short-sleeved shirt (sleeve buttons can catch and tear the dough). You will be using not just your hands but your forearms.
  • Use your hip to anchor the dough against the edge of the table so you can pull more easily.
  • Let gravity do some of the work for you. A thick rope of unpulled dough will remain on all four sides of the rectangle, and its extra weight will help stretch the dough. The rope will be trimmed off before baking.

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