Monday, October 29, 2007

Making Grandma's Strudel

It was almost twenty years ago when my friend, Jack’s, Slovenian grandmother taught me to make her famous apple strudel from scratch.

He had told me about her impressive talent for making strudel – how she would take a small piece of buttery dough and stretch it and stretch it and stretch it until was so thin you could see your hand through it.
A couple of times, he'd return to Texas after visiting his family in Chicago with one of these strudels in tow. I'll admit, it was some pretty amazing stuff.

Finally, one time about twenty years ago, Jack and I were up here in Chicago visiting his relatives and I got Grandma to let me in on her strudel making. I’ll admit, it was impressive to see this 86-year-old woman turn out such a labor-intensive product. (It also involved me getting up at 6:00 am with a whopper of a hangover – no less impressive, let me tell you -- but I wasn’t about to miss out).

I practiced until I got it right.

Grandma has long since passed, but I always feel her presence whenever I make strudel for her grandson.

Yesterday was such an occasion. Here’s how it’s done:
(Lorraine and Kimberly Ann appreciate this)

Mix together flour, melted butter, oil, water, an egg and a dash of salt. Pound the dough on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Let the dough rest for about an hour. (When I asked Grandma how long to let the dough rest, she replied, “Long enough for me to go get hair done,” and out the door she went. That was her routine.)

Meanwhile, melt two sticks of butter, a lot of bread crumbs, cinnamon and sugar. Oh, and also peel, core, and slice five pounds of Granny Smith apples.

Place a sheet on a counter measuring approximately 5’ by 3’. Flour the sheet and begin rolling out the ball of dough.
Then, begin stretching the dough by hand. Stretch it some more. And some more Until it covers the entire surface and hangs down the sides. Cover one end with the sliced apples. Paint the dough with butter. Lots and lots of butter. Cover it with the buttered breadcrumbs, cinnamon and sugar. Take one end of the sheet on the apple side, and begin rolling it up. Transfer to a baking pan, slather with more butter, cinnamon and sugar, and bake.
Repeat process, 'cause why make one when you can make two?
Ta-daahhhh! This stuff is legendary! Believe me. Thanks, Grandma.



At 4:01 PM , Blogger Citymouse said...

Had I had known, I would have been at your house for breakfast instead!

At 5:54 PM , Blogger Kimberly Ann said...

I am absolutely in awe. That is amazing! I was just craving strudel too
but I'm not sure I'm up to that challenge after seeing all the work involved. But oh my goodness that is a sight to behold. Thanks for showing all the great photos!

At 7:05 PM , Blogger Buck said...

Mouse: I might just bring you some.

KA: It's labor-intensive, but fun to do when you have good friends and good coffee at your side.

At 7:57 PM , Blogger gina said...

The Spouse's mother was Slovenian. I remember making strudel and potica (pronounced to sound like potitsa) at Christmas. The making of both was a family event. We all gathered around the table to stretch the dough... and yes, it's exactly as you describe! And boy, was it good! Potica is mostly filled with nuts and's what one site says about it:

An old world pastry, Potica is made from a dough rolled so thin and wide that a newspaper can be read through it. Then layered with walnuts, butter, cream and vanilla, is rolled into a spiral and baked to a crisp amber brown. Serve it with any meal or for a snack. Potica is delicious plain, by itself, heated or unheated. But you can enjoy it many different ways.

Good stuff, all of it. And can I get on your mailing list for samples the next time you make strudel? :)

At 9:35 AM , Blogger Lorraine said...

Hmmm. I probably need to get my hair done during Thanksgiving...

At 11:34 PM , Anonymous MHP :) said...

Dude, I just read this one now, and I gotta tell you, I WANT STRUDEL!!!! *smiles* It looks SO good!! I'd love to try some of "Grandma's Strudel" someday. :)


Poodle :)


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