Makes 2 (14-inch) strudels (each with 8 to 12 slices).
Note: Combine a couple of apple varieties for the best flavor. And plan ahead. The dough needs time to rest. From Kim Ode.
• 2 1/2 c. bread flour
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 large egg, beaten
• 3 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vegetable or canola oil, divided
• 1 tsp. cider vinegar
• 10 to 12 tbsp. lukewarm water
• 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
• Apple Filling (see recipe or make up your own)
• 6 tbsp. butter, divided
• 1 c. panko breadcrumbs, divided
• 1 tbsp. sugar
In a medium bowl, stir together 2 1/2 cups bread flour and salt.
In a 2-cup measure, combine the beaten egg, 3 tablespoons oil and vinegar, then add enough water to make 1 cup. Add to flour and mix until the dough comes together in a mass. It should be soft, but not sticky — just tacky enough to clean the sides of the bowl when stirred. If too sticky, add a bit more flour.
Scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times to make a smooth ball. Then start slapping it against the counter. This helps develop the gluten, which will help it stretch. Slap the dough 70 to 100 times. It should feel smooth and supple.
Lightly coat 2 small plates with remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Shape dough into 2 smooth balls and place each on a plate, turning so that all sides are oiled. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rest for 1 hour in a warm place.
In the meantime, make filling (see recipe). Prepare the strudel-stretching surface.
Cover a flat surface at least 2- by 3-feet square with a clean cloth large enough to hang over the sides. Ideally, you should be able to walk around the cloth on at least 3 sides, such as at a kitchen island. Sprinkle 1/2 cup all-purpose flour over the cloth, gently rubbing it into the fabric.
Move oven rack to the middle and preheat to 400 degrees. Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to fit a rimmed sheet pan.
Important: Remove any rings, watches or bracelets and roll up your sleeves to bare your forearms.
Place 1 ball of dough on the floured cloth and roll it into a rectangle about 12 by 18 inches. Melt 3 tablespoons butter and brush about 1 tablespoon of it over the dough; this will help it stretch.
Placing your hands under the center of the dough, palms down, slowly begin pulling the dough outward. Work gently, but confidently. The dough is amazingly pliable. You also can use your fingertips to lift and pull, especially as you move toward the edges. Let gravity help you. Move around the dough, maintaining the rectangle shape, until it’s about 18 inches wide and 24 to 28 inches long. If the dough tears, pinch it back together.
The dough should be as even as possible in its thinness, and thin enough to read through. Really.
With a scissor, trim the “lip” of dough along the edge. Discard.
Rewarm the 2 tablespoons butter and, with a pastry brush, scatter half of it over the dough (it’s too delicate to brush). Combine breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon sugar and stir to mix thoroughly. Then sprinkle 1/2 cup of the mixture over the surface.
From the bowl of Apple Filling, remove 3 cups with a slotted spoon, then arrange in a strip along one end of the dough, 6 inches in from the edge and 1 inch in from the sides.
Using the cloth, lift the end of the dough over the apples to cover, then continue lifting the cloth to roll the strudel. About halfway down, pause to fold in the sides, then continue rolling to the end. Roll the strudel onto 1 of the parchment paper sheets, then lift the parchment onto the baking sheet. Brush strudel with remaining 1 tablespoon butter, rewarming if necessary.
Immediately place strudel in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce to 350 degrees and bake 20 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack. Reset oven temperature to 400 degrees.
After you’ve reduced the oven temperature for the first strudel, begin rolling and stretching the remaining ball of dough, repeating the process and using the second sheet of parchment to transfer it to the baking sheet.
This second strudel also may be frozen for later use by rolling it onto a length of plastic wrap and wrapping tightly. Carefully roll onto a baking sheet and freeze solid, then wrap in aluminum foil. Use within 2 months, unwrapping and baking from frozen at 375 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes.
Makes enough for 2 strudels.
Note: From Kim Ode.
• 6 to 8 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-in. chunks, to make 6 c. total
• 2/3 c. sugar
• 2 tsp. cinnamon
• 1 c. raisins, optional
• 2 tbsp. lemon juice
• 1/4 tsp. salt
Combine apples, 2/3 cup sugar, cinnamon, raisins (if using), lemon juice and salt in a large bowl.