A generous slice of warm, homemade apple strudel with vanilla ice cream or vanilla sauce is how long ski or hiking days in the alps often end. As winter is approaching, it is the perfect time to make this authentic, homemade Apfelstrudel recipe that has been a favorite for years!
What is apple strudel?
Apple strudel is a log-shaped apple-filled pastry that's cut into slices when serving. The filling consists of tons of apples, marinated in lemon and rum with raisins, cinnamon and a breadcrumb-butter mixture. The breadcrumbs help bind and soak up liquids from the fresh apples.
The filling is then tightly wrapped in a paper thin, homemade strudel pastry. When baked, the pastry becomes nice and crisp on the outside thanks to the butter that you brush on after baking. The best part? The vanilla ice cream or vanilla sauce and whipped cream you serve it with! The strudel pastry may sound intimidating to make, but I promise it is easier than you think if you follow the instructions in my recipe card!
Where is Apfelstrudel from?
The original Austrian strudel from Vienna is the most classic version. And while that is popular all over Germany, there are a few German versions that simplify the recipe by switching out the homemade strudel dough for frozen puff pastry dough.
I'm not against that as that is also a super delicious way to enjoy Apfelstrudel and can save you some valuable time! There are many other potential origins of Apfelstrudel (such as it being a variety of Baklava), but I've only ever known of this version growing up in Germany.
What pastry is used for strudel?
The authentic pastry to use for a strudel like this Apfelstrudel is a strudel pastry. It's a simple dough made from flour, salt, egg, water and oil that's then soaked in oil for half an hour to add elasticity. You'll need it to be super stretchy because it then gets rolled out on a clean linen towel into a paper thin dough.
I have made strudel dough many times for this recipe and my other raspberry peach quark strudel, strawberry rhubarb strudel recipes, and it's really super simple! But I get if you need to save some time and use a puff pastry instead. This strudel will still come out super delicious if you don't make your own dough.
Strudel vs streusel?
They may sound alike, but strudel and streusel are two very different things. While a strudel is a filling wrapped into a large sheet of dough, baked, and then sliced into individual portions, streusel are sweet crumbs that are used to top cakes, muffins or pastries. If you like both, make sure to try my strawberry rhubarb streusel strudel sometime. It's a nice spring alternative to apple strudel and has streusel in the filling. So irresistible!
Apple strudel is not hard to make! Here the ingredients you'll need. Scroll down for the recipe card and the measurements.
- Flour. All-purpose flour works great!
- Salt. Just a touch.
- Egg. The egg goes in the dough.
- Oil. I use avocado oil in my dough recipe and to soak it. Soaking it does wonders in helping it become elastic.
- Butter. And you'll use quite a bit of it for the filling and for brushing onto the dough. I always use salted butter, but sweet cream works well, too.
- Sour Cream. I brush sour cream onto the rolled out dough before filling. It helps the dough not dry out while baking.
- Bread Crumbs. These go in the filling to help soak up liquids.
- Sugar. It goes into the filling. If you're using sweeter apples, feel free to reduce the amount of sugar you use.
- Cinnamon. A heaped tablespoon full to really get that warming cinnamon flavor across.
- Raisins. Not a raisin fan? Leave them out!
- Lemon juice. To help balance sweetness AND to prevent the apples from turning brown as they wait to be baked.
- Apples. You can really use any apples you like. But if you use apples on the sweeter side (I prefer tart apples for Apfelstrudel), I would suggest reducing the sugar in the recipe.
- Rum. Just one little shot of spiced rum enters the strudel filling. Feel free to leave it out, but it really helps flavor the filling. I use the iconic Austrian STROH rum for this classic Austrian recipe.
- Powdered sugar. You will only need it for dusting, and I love having a handy shaker ready when it's time for that step.
- Whipped Cream. Opional when serving (and so are vanilla ice cream or a vanilla sauce), but to me it's not optional. I whip mine with a bit of powdered sugar and vanilla. So good!
There are just a few tools that I think are pretty essential when it comes to making your homemade apple strudel.
- Rolling pin. The larger, the better. This one is heavy and huge, which really helps in working the dough into the size of your kitchen towel.
- Linen Towels. I just use a basic, organic linen towel like this one when rolling out and stretching out the dough.
- Pastry Brush. I like this one with soft silicone bristles as it prevents you from accidentally poking your super thin dough.
- Electric mixer. Comes in handy when making your own whipped cream. I've loved this one and it's cordless.
- Shaker. Comes in super handy when shaking powdered sugar onto your strudel dough (we also use it on homemade waffles, my homemade Berliner and more.
Can I make apple strudel with puff pastry?
While this is not the traditional Vienna-way to make apple strudel, you see Apfelstrudel with puff pastry all over Germany. It's still super delicious and saves some time when making this recipe.
Can I make apple strudel with sweet apples?
If using sweeter apples to make your apple strudel, reduce the amount of sugar added into the filling. That being said, this strudel recipe is not nearly as sweet as American desserts, so you may want to just stick with the amount in this recipe.
Can I make apple strudel gluten free?
You can substitute gluten free all-purpose flour (I've had success using this one in the past) instead of the the breadcrumbs in the filling. Regarding the pastry, I would see if you can find a gluten-free puff pastry as I am unsure of gluten-free flour making it elastic enough to stretch out thinly. Have any experience with making gluten-free strudel? Please let me know!
To help you envision how the process of making an apple strudel at home works, here a quick 44-second video of me making it!
Homemade Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel)
- 1 Large Rolling Pin I love this large size and it's heavy enough to help you flatten the dough to a paper-thin thickness.
- 1 Large Linen Towel I love this organic set of basic white linen towels.
- 1 Pastry Brush The soft silicone bristles avoid tearing of the delicate dough.
- 1 Electric Mixer This cordless one has been my favorite!
- 1 Shaker For dusting on powdered sugar. We use ours for dusting cakes, waffles, and more.
- 250 grams all purpose flour
- 2 grams salt
- 100 milliliters lukewarm water
- 1 egg medium size
- 20 milliliters oil I use avocado oil. 20 ml go into the dough, and you'll need more for soaking the dough in oil in a small bowl.
- 30 grams butter for brushing onto the rolled out dough before filling
- 30 grams sour cream for brushing onto the rolled out dough before filling
Raisins (soak the night before or a couple of hours before)
- 1 shot spiced rum I use the iconic STROH rum from Austria.
- 100 grams raisins
- 75 grams breadcrumbs
- 50 grams butter
- 100 grams sugar feel free to use a little less if using sweeter apples
- 10 grams ground cinnamon
- 10 milliliters lemon juice
- 1100 grams tart apples I like use tart apple varieties like Granny Smith, Braeburn or Johnathan apples. If using a sweeter apple, feel free to reduce the amount of sugar used in the recipe.
- 60 grams butter melted, for brushing on the baking sheet before baking and onto the dough after baking (½ the amount for each)
- powdered sugar for dusting the apple strudel with after baking
- whipped cream For serving. I make my own by whipping together whipping cream, a little powdered sugar and vanilla extract.
- vanilla ice cream For serving. You could also make a vanilla sauce.
- Put raisins in a bowl, add the shot of spiced rum if using and fill bowl with just enough water to cover the raisins. Cover and let sit at least for a couple of hours, but better to let them sit overnight. Then drain off any liquid.1 shot spiced rum, 100 grams raisins
- Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C).Combine all ingredients and knead by hand or using an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment until a smooth consistency is achieved and it easily peels away from your skin and work surface or the inside the mixing bowl.250 grams all purpose flour, 2 grams salt, 100 milliliters lukewarm water, 1 egg, 20 milliliters oil
- Shape the dough into a ball, place in a bowl just big enough to fit it, then pour oil until half of the dough is covered, giving it a nice oil bath.Cover and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. This step helps tremendously with establishing the needed elasticity for the dough!
- Remove dough from oil bath and dip in flour from all sides. Spread out a thin, cotton kitchen towel over your work surface and dust in flour.Transfer dough to the middle of the kitchen towel and, using a rolling pin, roll out to a rectangular shape close to the size of the kitchen towel.Carefully pull the dough using the back of your hands until it's almost see-through.Brush with melted butter first, then brush on sour cream, cut edges to make them straight and even.30 grams butter, 30 grams sour cream
- Peel the apples, cut into quarters, remove the core, and cut into ¼ inch thick slices. Toss into a large bowl, then cover with the juice of one lemon.1100 grams tart apples, 10 milliliters lemon juice
- For the filling, let the butter melt in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and roast them until they're golden brown. Mix in the cinnamon.75 grams breadcrumbs, 50 grams butter, 10 grams ground cinnamon
- In the same large bowl the apples are in, add bread crumb butter mixture, cinnamon-sugar, drained rum raisins and combine.100 grams sugar
- Add the filling to the dough and spread out, leaving 2 inches on each side. With the help of the kitchen towel, first fold in the shorter edge on each side, then the longer edges.Now roll the entire strudel into a long log, then transfer to a baking sheet brushed with melted butter (the kitchen towel is your best friend here!).60 grams butter
Bake & Serve
- Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately brush on melted butter.
- After baking, let rest for 30 minutes before cutting into slices. When serving, dust with powdered sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream or a homemade vanilla sauce.This recipe me straight back to the alps!powdered sugar, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream
While this is not the traditional Vienna-way to make apple strudel, you see Apfelstrudel with puff pastry all over Germany. It's still super delicious and saves some time when making this recipe. Can I make apple strudel with sweet apples?
If using sweeter apples to make your apple strudel, reduce the amount of sugar added into the filling. That being said, this strudel recipe is not nearly as sweet as American desserts, so you may want to just stick with the amount in this recipe. Can I make apple strudel gluten free?
You can substitute gluten free all-purpose flour (I've had success using this one in the past) instead of the the breadcrumbs in the filling. Regarding the pastry, I would see if you can find a gluten-free puff pastry as I am unsure of gluten-free flour making it elastic enough to stretch out thinly. Have any experience with making gluten-free strudel? Please let me know in the comments below!