Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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strudel is a Central European pastry made by rolling paper-thin dough around a fruit filling with the aid of a cloth. The filling is frequently but not exclusively made from apples. The dough is an ausgezogener Strudelteig made from wheat flour, warm water, and oil, which is stretched in a manner similar to pizza dough to make it as thin and translucent as possible. It is impressive to see bakers in the several lands contiguous to the Danube stretching the dough. For those who are not adept, commercially available filo pastry or even puff pastry can be used. See filo and pastry, puff. Although strudel’s origins are often thought to be oriental, there is evidence from as early as the fourteenth century of a Hungarian pastry layered with very thin dough. This derivation is also suggested by Marx Rumpolt’s Ein new Kochbuch (1581), which offers a recipe for a “Hungarian Turte” that consists of 20 or 30 sheets of pastry made from flour and water, “thin as a veil,” each spread with butter or lard and placed over an apple filling. See torte. The first extant recipe for an Austrian curd-cheese strudel is to be found in the manuscript “Koch Puech” from 1696, now in the State Library in Vienna. This Milchrahm or Topfenstrudel is still a popular alternative to apple strudel today. Cherries, pears, and poppy seeds are other favorite fillings; there are also savory versions (particularly in Burgenland) filled with beans, cabbage, potatoes, or black pudding. Savory strudels are more likely to use potato flour than wheat flour. One of the most popular apple strudels in Vienna is made at Café Korb in the Brandstätte. The filling combines cooking apples, breadcrumbs fried in butter, raisins soaked in lemon juice, sugar, and cinnamon. Others recipes replace the raisins with walnuts.