PASTRY ARTS on a roll
Phyllo dough and puff pastry are also used to make many
types of strudel. Phyllo dough, believed to have been brought to
Central Europe by the invading Turks, was the predecessor to the
handmade stretched dough developed by Austrian pastry cooks.
Today, phyllo is mostly purchased premade, and is used to make
many types of strudel as well as the more traditional Greek and
Turkish pastries such as baklava.
In German bakeshops, puff pastry is the preferred dough for
strudel. The German version differs from the Austrian style in the
way it is built up in layers instead of rolled. A base layer of dough
is topped with a thin strip of sponge cake followed by a heaping
layer of filling. It is covered with puff pastry that has slits cut in it.
The sides are crimped and the strudel egg-washed before baking.
This type of strudel resembles the French pastry jalousie, except
that it has more filling. Sweet German-style strudel is brushed
with apricot glaze and a warm fondant icing after baking; sweet Austrian strudels are dusted with
powdered sugar before serving. Sweet strudel is by far the best known.
Not so well-known are savory strudels, for example, one filled with ham, Swiss cheese and
cabbage. This strudel, built in the German fashion, starts with a strip of puff pastry topped with
thinly sliced baguette as a base, followed by a layer of sauteed spinach. It is topped with the main
filling—julienne ham, cabbage, leeks and Swiss cheese bound with bechamel sauce. The strudel
is covered with a strip of puff pastry, and egg-washed before baking.
At Bohemian House, Chicago, which offers Central European and Germanic foods, chef
Rob Sidor serves a hen of the woods strudel with apple cider/smoked maple puree.
In Los Angeles, Bernhard Mairinger, Austrian chef/owner of Restaurant BierBeisl, has found
success with his minced-meat strudel prepared with a rich beef bouillon. For the restaurant’s Sunday
brunch, he has also prepared a puff pastry vegetarian strudel bound with a fresh herb bechamel.
Martin Heuser, chef/owner of contemporary German restaurant Affäre in Kansas City, Missouri,
serves savory strudels that include a lamb loin wrapped in zucchini and aubergine and encased in a
tomato stew, the whole wrapped in strudel dough. On occasion, he also makes a seafood strudel with
salmon topped with chanterelles and julienne vegetables, wrapped in a traditional strudel dough.
Heuser says he learned to make strudel at age 12 from his Austrian-born mother, who made
it daily. It has been Affäre’s most popular dessert since the restaurant opened.
Apple strudel is by far the best-known type of strudel. Other types can be filled with quark
(a fresh creamy cow’s milk cheese), semolina, poppy seeds, and fruit and nuts. Another type of
sweet-cheese strudel is filled with farmer cheese—somewhat like cottage cheese—and sour cream. One
traditional cheese strudel, topfenstrudel, is made with quark, raisins and sour cream.
In some old-style Austrian recipes, sour cream is mixed with fruit to make the filling creamier
and give it a different taste profile. Another famous strudel made with cheese is the Austrian
milchrahmstrudel (milk cream strudel), Mairinger’s favorite. When he visits his homeland, he
seeks out this creamy strudel made with fromage blanc, small pieces of apricot, sugar and vanilla
that is baked with a creamy milk and sugar topping.
Although most strudels are baked, some are poached, such as semolina strudel, an Austrian
specialty. First, a traditional Austrian dough is made. Then, the filling is produced by whipping
butter and adding egg yolks, semolina, sour cream and raisins. This is folded in a meringue, rolled
Austrian Strudel Dough
Martin Heuser, Chef/Owner
Kansas City, Missouri
Yield: 2 balls dough
( 2 strudels/32 portions)
750 g. all-purpose flour
250 g. bread flour
600 ml. warm water
14 g. salt
30 ml. grapeseed oil
1. In small mixing machine
with dough hook, mix flours,
water, salt and oil until gluten
develops. Form into two balls;
knead well. Wrap dough in
plastic; rest for at least 1 hour.
2. On tablecloth lightly dusted
with flour, roll 1 ball of dough
into a circle. Hand-stretch and
pull dough out to a thin sheet.
Lay filling on lower edge of
cloth. Tear off thick lower edge
of dough. Roll up, with aid
of tablecloth, three-quarters
of the way. Tear off thick top
edge of dough before rolling
3. Transfer, seam-side down,
to buttered sheet pan. Twist
ends of strudel; fold under to
prevent filling from seeping
out. Let strudel rest for 30
minutes. Repeat process with
second ball of dough.
4. Brush strudels with milk just
before baking. For sweet
strudels, dust with powdered
sugar. Bake. Slice; serve.