Apple Strudel -- a dessert of apples, pine nuts, and raisins or currants rolled up in paper-thin pastry -- is the defining dish of Italy's Trentino-Alto Adige region. This autonomous province borders Austria to the north and is squeezed between the Veneto and Lombardy regions to the south. Knowing this -- and that the region was part of Austria until after the first World War-- helps explain why this Austrian favorite is also beloved in Italy.
Despite the look of the recipe ingredients and method, this is actually a rather simple dessert to prepare and won't take nearly as long as you might think. —Emiko
2 strudels (serves 8 to10)
For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups
(300 grams) flour
(125 ml) warm water
olive oil, plus more for brushing
vinegar (white wine or apple cider are best)
For the filling:
apples (Golden Delicious preferably), about 750 grams
For the pastry: Place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the center. Place the water, egg, 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and vinegar in the center and whisk with a fork to combine, until it begins to get too difficult to whisk. From here, knead the dough until soft, elastic, and well-combined. Brush the dough with olive oil and let rest, covered, in a bowl for 30 minutes.
For the filling: Peel and core the apples, and chop them into thin slices, then place immediately in a bowl with the zest and juice of the lemon and toss. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the currants, pine nuts, turbinado sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a small skillet, toast the breadcrumbs in half of the butter over a medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the breadcrumbs become coated in the butter. Set aside.
For the assembly: Divide the pastry into 2 balls. Roll out 1 ball of pastry on a floured tea towel to a rectangle roughly 12 x 16 inches (30 x 40cm) and thin enough to see your hand through the other side.
Brush melted butter over the whole pastry. Scatter half of the toasted breadcrumbs evenly over the pastry, leaving a border of about 4 inches (10cm). Combine the chopped apples with the currant mixture and the rum (if using), then toss to combine. Place half of the apple mixture over the breadcrumbs and, with the help of the tea towel, gently fold the pastry from the long side, then roll to close the pastry firmly (but not so tight that it stretches and breaks!). Fold the ends underneath. Transfer the pastry to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with melted butter to cover entirely. Repeat with the rest of the pastry and filling to create the second strudel.
Bake the strudels at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a baking rack. You can serve this warm or cold, with a simple dusting of confectioners' sugar or a dollop of unsweetened, fresh whipped cream or ice cream.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.