Strudel, one of the best Italian desserts, is the delicious dessert stuffed with apples and raisins that is associated with Trentino Alto Adige. Its history, however, is long and peculiar and has a very distant origin, bringing us back to Mesopotamia.
The history of the Strudel starts from the Asian regions, where desserts characterized by the use of puff pastry with filling even dates back to the distant times of Mesopotamia. From that moment, most probably, the use of this type of slightly crunchy pasta expanded to Turkey, Greece and throughout the Mediterranean. Turkish pastry chefs revisited the recipe by creating small cakes in puff pastry filled with nuts, pine nuts, fresh or dried fruit, which from Turkey passed to Hungary in a short time.
In 1699 Hungary became part of the Austrian Empire and from there, therefore, the spread to Vienna was very rapid. In the city the desserts were immediately called strudel, due to their shape, since the word means roll or vortex. The Austrian confectioners were the ones to make the last significant changes to the dessert, which became so famous all over the world.
After Austrian domination in Italy, strudel became a traditional dessert not only in Trentino Alto Adige, but also in Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. Today it is protected with a specification that establishes the ingredients and prevents the original Italian pastry recipe from being reproduced incorrectly. So the Apple Strudel made a long road before stopping definitively in Italy!
Start by placing the sifted flour and salt in a bowl, make a central pit and pour in the oil, water and eggs, start working with the fingers until all the ingredients are together, then move to a floured surface and mix with a tarot (or by hand) until it is no longer sticky.
Then continue with your hands and throw it several times vigorously, until it is well smooth.
Oil the dough and cover it with a cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Then start preparing the filling: brown the breadcrumbs in a pan with the melted butter and let cool.
Put the raisins to soak in a small bowl with the rum. Peel the apples, remove the core and cut into slices not too thin. Add to these the sugar, the cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, mix it all, so that the apples do not oxidize.
Flour a tablecloth now and start to pull the dough a little on it, then gently stretch it with the back of the hands starting from the center towards the outside, until forming a long and very thin rectangle. The dough will be very elastic but be careful not to break it.
Trim the edges that will be thicker and begin to fill, leaving a few centimeters from the edge. Put the breadcrumbs first, then the apples, sugar, squeezed raisins, pine nuts and lemon zest.
At this point, use the tablecloth to wrap the strudel, without touching it with your hands.
Prepare a pan with parchment paper and slide the strudel very gently. Brush the strudel with melted butter and bake at 180 ° static oven (the oven must already be very hot), cooking can vary from 30/45 to 60 minutes, depending on the filling and on your oven power. Monitor it all the time in order not to burn it!
Serve warm dusted with icing sugar and accompanied with cream or vanilla ice cream.
If you don’t like rum you can substitute it with a sweeter liqueur (such as Marsala or Amaretto di Saronno). If you don’t want alcohol at all, then just put a little more sugar.
If the preparation of the dough is too difficult or too long for you, it may be substitute by those ready to use. You can even try the version with shortcrust pastry, very delicious! (Or puff pastry).
The strudel can last up to 3 or 4 days, no need to put in the fridge.