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This Apfelstrudel recipe (German Apple Strudel recipe) might sound daunting, but it’s much easier than it seems and so much fun to make. And the resulting apple strudel is a delicious, festive dessert filled with sweet, spiced apples and raisins in a flaky crust that everyone will love.
The idea of making apple strudel from scratch might deter some from attempting it, but really, it’s simpler than you might think. This apfelstrudel recipe will walk you through the process.
I took German all through high school and college. My dad lived in Austria for two years and I thought I would learn the language and he and I would be the only ones able to speak it and no one else would understand. I thought that would be the best thing ever. Except it turned out that my father had forgotten most of his German. And now, sadly, so have I except for a few phrases really!
But I still love and adore things that remind me of Germany and it’s language, culture, people, and of course, food, and I am dying to go back. One of my favorite traditions that we have been creating at Christmas time is to go into San Francisco to one of our favorite German restaurants for a Weihnachten dinner. There is just something about Germany that feels so Christmas-y.
One of my bucket list items is to visit the Striezelmarkt (the famous Christmas market dating back to the 1400’s) in Dresden one of these years.
Truth be told, this apfelstrudel recipe could really be Austrian, Czech OR German. From my understanding, the history of apple strudel is that is was invented in Vienna, Austria, but became popular throughout neighboring regions like the Czech Republic and southern Germany, particularly Bavaria, where Munich is located and Oktoberfest is celebrated every year.
And while there are subtle variations like whether to include nuts or raisins in the strudel, there seems to be a consensus that a traditional apfelstrudel recipe consists of an unleavened, elastic dough that gets stretched, not rolled, incredibly thin, then filled will breadcrumbs and a sweetened, cinnamon apple filling.
Based on my experiences living Germany for one summer (I know, it’s not much to go on) and traveling through southern Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, I definitely want my apple strudel to have raisins but no nuts. Which is nuts (see what I did there?) because typically I love nuts in everything, but when I tried making a batch with nuts recently, it just didn’t taste the same as the apfelstrudel I would get during my travels.
I specified golden raisins in this recipe because I really prefer them in most baking and feel like they have a subtler raisin flavor than the dark raisins. Just plump them in some hot water for 10 minutes before adding them to your strudel so they are nice and soft.
When making a traditional apple strudel recipe from scratch, really the only potentially intimidating element is going to be the strudel dough itself. And the reason is because rather than rolling out the dough, which is more familiar to us, homemade apple strudel dough gets stretched thinner and thinner, until it is so thin that you could read newspaper print through it.
Like, that’s actually a thing. To stick a piece of paper under the dough and see if you can read what’s on it. I used a patterned tablecloth to achieve the same result when making this apfelstrudel recipe.
But do not fear, I promise it’s easier than it sounds to stretch your strudel dough as thin as you need it. The trick is to use an acid like apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in the strudel dough, knead the dough well to develop the gluten, and then let it rest so that it can fully relax before you attempt stretching it.
Since there is no yeast, the dough won’t rise during the resting time, but the acid from the vinegar will relax the gluten strands which will become more elastic and make the dough easier to stretch!
My helpers were front and center for this one. They always come running whenever I am making something with apples because they love to eat the peels. Notice Rose’s arms protectively encircling her horde of peels.
When the dough has rested sufficiently, you will first roll it into a rectangle, just to get things started. There’s no required dimension or thickness, just roll it out a bit so you aren’t stretching a big ball of dough. About the size of a large piece of paper will do. Then transfer it to a large area covered in a large, clean tablecloth or bed sheet.
Working carefully, you want to just lift and stretch the dough, sliding your hands underneath (be sure to remove rings in advance!) with palms down and gently pulling the dough out from the center, letting it slide off your hands.
Working your way around all sides of the dough, you just continue to stretch and pull it away from the center, until it forms a very large, very thin rectangle. If you get some holes, no worries. Eventually you are going to roll the whole thing up and no one will be the wiser.
Once your strudel dough is sufficiently thin enough for you to see the pattern of your tablecloth through it, you will gently spread it with butter and sprinkle half of it with the raisins and breadcrumbs that will soak up juices from the apples as they cook so you don’t end up with a soggy strudel.
Then half of the dough gets topped with the apple filling, leaving a 3-inch border around the edges.
Now here is the fun part! Fold the 3-inch border over the apple filling on both sides to hold the apple filling inside the strudel as it rolls.
Then grasp the cloth or sheet right by the long edge of the strudel on the filled side and using the cloth, fold/roll the strudel onto itself, just like you would cinnamon roll dough except that strudel dough is too delicate to roll by hand, which is why you let the cloth do the work.
Adjust your grip on the fabric to be closer to the now partially rolled strudel and lift to roll the strudel again, continuing until the strudel rolls completely up on itself and making sure that the edges that were folded over don’t come untucked.
Roll the strudel right onto your baking sheet lined with parchment paper rather than try to pick it up and transfer it by hand. I literally just held my pan at the edge of the table and used the tablecloth to roll the strudel right onto the baking sheet. Although, learn from me, grasshoppers, and use parchment paper underneath, m’kay?
If your strudel doesn’t fit on your pan, you can curve it into a “C” or “U” shape and no one will be the wiser when you slice it before serving. Some people only make one giant strudel which they intentionally curve to fit on the pan. I just divided the dough in half to make two separate strudels.
I think this is such a delightful Fall dessert to serve with all the fresh apples that come into season, but it is also so perfectly Christmas-y since the song “My Favorite Things” from “Sound of Music” seems to have become a Christmas song (not quite sure how, but I always hear it at Christmas time) and it includes the line about “crisp apple strudel”.
Which I sort of think is a misnomer – a real strudel, from what I have experienced, doesn’t seem to be so much “crisp” as possibly “flaky” with delicate layers of strudel pastry created by rolling the thin strudel dough with a thin layer of butter around and around the strudel as the whole thing gets rolled up as described above.
Some people cheat the system and there are recipes for apple strudel that use sheets of phyllo dough rather than making strudel dough. But we’re not scared of trying to make real German apple strudel from scratch, are we? No.
Oh, and while not traditional, I love a big scoop of vanilla ice cream to go along with my apple strudel!
Viel Glück und guten appetit! (Good luck & bon appetit!)
More Apple Dessert Recipes You’ll Love
- Glazed Apple Fritter Yeast Bread
- Homemade Caramel Apples
- Salted Caramel Apple Pie
- Glazed Apple Pie Cookies
- Best Homemade Apple Pie Recipe
- Instant Pot Homemade Applesauce
- German Apple Cake with Streusel Topping [Apfelkuchen mit Streusel]
- Irish Apple Cake with Warm Custard Sauce
- Classic Apple Cider Donuts
- German Apple Pancakes with Cider Syrup
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
Apple Raisin Filling
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
- 2/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 lbs apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
- 2/3 cup golden raisins, plumped in hot water for 10 minutes, then drained
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
- Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer. Using the paddle attachment, add in the water, oil, and vinegar while mixing on low speed until you get a soft dough. Change out the paddle attachment for the dough hook, then knead the dough on medium speed until a soft ball forms.
- Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead for 2-3 minutes, until smooth. Slam the dough onto the work surface a few times to enhance gluten development, then shape into a ball and transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, giving the dough a quick torn to lightly coat it in oil on top so it doesn't dry out. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 60-90 minutes.
- When the dough is almost done resting, heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the raisins in a bowl of hot water to soak. Peel, core, and slice the apples into thin slices. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together. Cover your kitchen table or large counter space with a clean tablecloth or sheet.
- To stretch the dough, first move it from the bowl to a clean, dry surface and cut it cleanly in half with a bench scraper, pizza cutter, or large knife. Set one half of the dough to the side. Shape the other half of the dough into a ball and roll it out as thin as you can.
- Gently lift the dough and transfer it to the clean, flat surface covered by the tablecloth. Working gently, lift and stretch the dough a little at a time. When you first start, you can use your knuckles (be sure to remove all jewelry first) underneath the dough to stretch it like a pizza with the back of your hands. Continue to stretch the dough by lifting gently from the thicker edges and wafting a little air under the dough as you pull away from the center of the dough. As it thins out, the weight of the dough will mostly hold it in place on the tablecloth while you stretch out one side, then the other, increasing the size of the dough and stretching it thinner and thinner each time. As you lift and gently pull, you will see areas where the dough is thinning out and you will know the dough is thin enough when you are able to see the pattern of the tablecloth through the dough.
- Continue to stretch and pull the dough until it is paper-thin and a large rectangular shape. If there is a thick band of dough around the edges, remove it by gently tearing it away or carefully tug on the band, stretching the dough even a bit further to thin that thick band of dough out.
- Using a your hands (or a very soft pastry brush, although I find that my hands work best), gently spread 1/4 cup of the melted butter over the entire surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle half of the breadcrumbs over half of the dough, then place half of the sliced apples on top of the breadcrumbs. Cover the apples evenly with half of the raisins (and walnuts, if using) and half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Fold the short end of the dough over onto the filling, then fold the sides over as well to create a sort of envelope edge that will keep the filling in place as you roll the strudel. Grab the tablecloth close to the short, filled end of the strudel and lift it, allowing the strudel to roll or fold onto itself. Keep lifting the tablecloth, rolling the strudel into a log, making sure the filling stays tucked inside.
- Carefully transfer the strudel onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough and filling ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup of melted butter. Both strudel should fit side by side on the same baking sheet with space between them. Brush the top of both strudel with the remaining melted butter.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the dough is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow strudel to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 439Saturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 272mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 4gSugar: 31gProtein: 4g