I love baking, and so I am always looking for new things to try my baking hand at. Recently, it became clear to us that I had yet to try any recipes from the cookbook I bought when we were in Vienna, Austria, two summers ago. I was already thinking of making some dairy free apple strudel, and was happy to find a recipe for this iconic Austrian pastry.
We had bought Viennese Cuisine at the curiously titled Babette’s Cookbook and Spice Store, not far from Vienna’s Simply Raw Bakery (an awesome bakery of mostly vegan pastries). If you look close below you can make out the entire recipe, with my notes converting metric measurements to our system of ounces and Fahrenheit degrees.
It does not take much to make this recipe dairy free. First of all, there is no butter in the pastry – just a bit of oil. Second, you are meant to brush the completed strudel with butter before baking it, but you could use egg wash or oil – or like me you could use some vegan butter (I love Miyoko’s VeganButter, so I melted that in the microwave and brushed it over my strudel). That is all designed to crisp up the pastry on the top, but if you like your pastry softer, you could just leave off brushing the dough with anything.
Now as with many cookbooks, I felt like there was something missing from this recipe. So I looked up strudel recipes on the Internet – I especially watched Youtube videos on making strudel dough. And what I saw there was a little intimidating – how you have to stretch out the dough until it is like four times its original size, and so thin you can practically see through it! Well, I didn’t go that nuts on the whole thing – for one thing, I don’t have a counter large enough to do that, and neither do I have a tea towel big enough to lay out such a huge dough on. Instead, I stretched it out as far as my counter would allow, maybe double the original size, added the apples (only maybe half of what the recipe called for, by the way), folded it over, and brushed the entire top with egg wash.
This recipe calls for 180 to 200 degrees C. which is 350 to 400 Fahrenheit. That seems like a huge difference in temperature. I went with a setting of 400 on my convection oven (which the oven immediately knocks down to 375), and I set the timer for 30 minutes (the recipe says 35 to 45), knowing that the convection setting often (but not always) bakes things faster than the recipe indicates.
Of course at around the 20 minute mark, Therese smelled the strudel and it seemed done to her already. I checked it and it was not browning on top yet, so I thought it needed the full thirty minutes. I took it out after that thirty, and it looked pretty good to me.
I wanted to let it cool completely, but Therese (the family expert on Germanic food due to her time living there in the 1980s) said better to eat it warm. I did let my piece cool substantially so I could ladle a couple dollops of So Delicious Cocowhip over it and not have that melt and run off the strudel.
I have to say, I think this was a pretty good effort for my first strudel. Believe me, it did not last long – dessert one night, breakfast the next morning, more dessert that next night and it was history!