Updated: Aug 28
If you know me, you know I love local and seasonal food. I grew up that way. And I'm a strong believer that this is the healthiest way to live, eating the foods God made for us when they're local and at their best.
Today I'm sharing my favorite kind of apple strudel with you, which also happens to be the easiest strudel. This is the fastest homemade dough, and you only need a handful ingredients. This dessert will melt in your mouth and disappear so fast. People will have a hard time believing you made it so fast from scratch!
Apple strudel is something my mom would make at least once a month. It was a very popular dessert in my childhood, but looking back, it was more probably more like a breakfast then a dessert; not too sweet for sure! I remember my mom made yeast-based dough (she never used sourdough starter, even though my grandmother did). The dough was slightly sweet and very soft with a beautiful glossy surface.
While experimenting in the kitchen over the years, I've made apple strudel with yeast-based dough, filo (popular dough in the middle East), puff pastry (classic French dough), pie dough (American favorite and most commonly used in pies), and even croissant dough! I love all of them! Every dough has a unique flavor. I've made all these doughs from scratch so they don't contain any harmful or unnecessary ingredients.
What Do I Like About This Dessert?
It's super versatile! Pair it with a cup of coffee for breakfast, or serve it as a dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream at your dinner party. Homemade ice cream makes this treat even more special. Dusting with powdered sugar before serving is optional, but it makes it prettier.
Apples are the Apple of My Eye
If I had to live with only one fruit, apples would be my first choice. I remember the first year I was in the US, I would come back with a big bag of apples every time I went to the grocery store. David always asked me, "Honey, what are you going to do with all those apples?" After a while he finally stopped questioning me and just started calling me an "apple-holic."
In the region where I'm from in the center of Ukraine, apples are everywhere. They're so delicious, and there are so many kinds of apples! I remember my grandmother had at least ten different kinds of apples growing on her property. The trees were huge, and once they started producing fruit, they would continue for 50-100 years due to the rich soil called "chernozem". This type of soil is black and very fertile with lots of organic nutrients.
Unfortunately, the variety of apples is declining in Ukraine because of the market demands and the sheer number of crops that are being exported. Producing apples in the modern way is faster and easier. They are planting little trees that can grow apples the second after they're planted. The small size of the trees also makes them easier to harvest. The whole world has favorites like Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples. But I sure do miss my grandmother's apples and the kinds you won't find in a regular supermarket.
In August 2015, just a few months after my first son was born, we went on vacation to upstate New York to visit a friend. He showed us the farm where he grew up, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover an amazing wild apple tree. Now, this wasn't just any old wild apple tree. This tree grew apples I call "papirka," which I believe are called "snow apples" in English. These were the first apples we would harvest each year with my grandfather. I love them so much. The taste of them took me back to my childhood. Ever since that summer, my friend has brought me some of those apples every time he goes home.
This time of year, late October through November, is the time to harvest pecans in the South. We all prize pecans for their flavor, but they also have amazing health benefits. I love using pecans in both sweet and savory dishes, and sometimes I even grind them to use in pie dough. If you have extra pecans and want to try out some other recipes, check out my Cape Cod-Style Chicken Salad and Inna's Peach Pie.
Have you ever tried fresh nuts? They're so different from the ones we buy at the store that are already a year old. Fresh nuts are so sweet, creamy, and oily, where as the grocery store variety are sad, dry examples of their kind. We think so much about the seasonality of tomatoes, peaches, and apples, but we are conditioned to believe nuts are nuts no matter if they come from a can or a bag. If you have the opportunity to buy fresh nuts of any kind for a roadside stand or a farmers market while they're in season, do it! It'll open your mind to what nuts at their prime can be. If you don't eat all the fresh nuts, treat the uneaten ones like the perishable produce they are, and store them in the fridge or the freezer. They may cost a little more than the nuts from the store, but I'd personally rather pay a farmer today than a pharmacy later. The quality of food matters!
Fun Fact About Pecans
Pecans are our country's only native nut. From North Carolina to Texas to New Mexico and Arizona, fifteen states produce pecans. Georgia grows the most. Pecans come from large trees, need a warm climate, and require a lot of water for production.
Desirable, Stewart and Cape Fear trees produce their first nuts after about seven years and can continue producing for up to a hundred years. God's miracle!
Do I Have to Use Nuts in This Recipe?
The nuts are not a must-use ingredient in this recipe. In fact, traditional Austrian strudel is made with raisins! My mom never uses anything but apples. I love to add walnuts or pecans, but you are the boss of your plate!
Can I Freeze Strudel?
Absolutely! In fact, since this recipe makes two strudels, I recommend eating one fresh and freezing the other one.
To freeze the strudel, wrap it in plastic wrap once it is completely cooled. Then place the wrapped strudel in a plastic storage bag in the freezer. When you're ready to indulge, remove the strudel from the plastic wrap and thaw it in the fridge overnight. Then cover it in foil and warm in the oven before serving.
Tips for Making and Serving Inna's Apple-Pecan Strudel
The dough can be mixed by hand or by using an electric mixer with the hook attachment.
Letting your dough rest is absolutely necessary. That way it'll be more elastic and much easier to work with. Dough that's not well-rested can spring back during rolling.
Slicing the apples thinly is important, but what is even more important is to slice them all to be the same thickness so they will cook the same.
Feel free to use any kind of apples in this recipe. You can even try a mixture of apples, like Granny Smith and Fuji. In the video I used green apples and a very firm, locally-grown pear. Green apples are definitely my first choice for this recipe.
This strudel can be served warm or at room temperature. Either way is delicious! Eat it plain or serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or even a dollop of crème fraîche (that's my favorite way to eat it).
Let's do it...
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 35-45 minutes
Total time: 50-60 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
Yield: 2 strudels (one strudel can serve 6 people)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
4-5 large apples (in the video I used 4 green apples and 1 large firm pear)
1 cup pecans, chopped
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons oat flour
1 lemon (juice only)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup raw cane sugar
Powdered sugar for dusting
Egg (for egg wash)
Preheat oven to 350F.
To make the dough, place all ingredients in an electric mixing bowl and mix with the hook attachment until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
Shape the dough into a disk, and wrap it with plastic wrap. Let the rest dough for at least half an hour.
For the filling, peel the apples and the pear (if you're using one). Slice the fruit into ⅛-inch slices. Add lemon juice and mix to help prevent the apples from turning brown.
Add cinnamon and sugar, then mix all together.
Divide the dough into two pieces. Work with one at a time.
On a well-floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle as thin as you can. Make sure the dough is stretching and not breaking apart.
Brush the dough generously with melted butter. Make a strip of oat flour in the middle. Add half the pecans and half of the apple mixture, leaving the accumulated juice behind.
Fold the sides of the dough in, and roll the rest of the strudel like a snowball.
Brush the ends with egg wash. This step is important because it prevents the filling from leaking during baking.
Carefully place the strudel on a baking sheet with baking paper, seam side down.
Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling. Egg wash the surface.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the tops are nice and brown.
Let cool before slicing.