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Apple strudel might be the national dish of Austria, but Austrians never invented it. It all started with the baklava. The filo came from Greece through the Turks and from filo Hungary created the strudel. When the Turks invaded Hungary in the sixteenth century they stayed for 150 years. There was an understanding that as long as they spared Vienna the Turks could stay in Hungary. That was a really bad deal for us. At the same time we were introduced to filo and that was the beginning of the strudel. Hungarians called it rétes. Now if life was fair rétes would be the word world famous. But life is not fair. 

I watched my grandma make rétes. You see I know exactly how to do it. I just never got into it; I was told we didn’t have the right flour in Canada. But that’s not true. I went on line to Cheftalk and asked the opinion of North American experts how to make strudel without rétesliszt [strudel flour]. Yes, Hungarians developed a specific flour for strudel making. Not every chef knew about it. One chef even told me he can make strudel from all purpose flour. Of course THAT would not be strudel. The best advice pointed me to Greg Patent’s video. It was a start, I admit, but still it was not the real thing. Eventually I came to the realization you have to have hard wheat [bread flour] for structure so the dough can stand the stretching. But you also need softer wheat [all purpose flour] so the dough can stay soft and doesn't harden into a crispy monument. I arrived at the ratio of bread and all purpose flour arbitrarily. And then finally after two years of procrastination I opened up Margit néni’s 150 year old cookbook and read up on rétes. Here is my first real strudel. I think I will make a video of the entire process one of these days. In the meantime I can at least show you the soft consistency of the dough required for strudel. My grandmother did it all by hand, but I have grown soft too haha… it is not a task a Canadian is willing to do without a Kitchenaid.


You will need both bread and all purpose flour. You cannot hurry the strudel, there are no shortcuts. The dough has to become incredibly soft and pliable. After that the dough needs time to rest for 2 hours. Strudel dough must be pulled by hand. You can’t use a roller. It should be so thin that you can see through it. Use fresh fruit to fill your strudel if you can. The fillings should not be watery. If you must use frozen fruit, make sure it’s completely thawed out, sugared and squeezed out of all its juices. The melted butter has to be dribbled onto the pastry. The pastry brush must not touch the dough. It’s OK if you end up with an irregular sheet of dough. It will even out in the end. Holes are OK too, even large holes. As the dough is rolled up the holes are covered up by the following layers. That’s it for strudel. The rest is just recipe. 

1-1/2 cups bread flour 
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/4 cup very soft unsalted butter 
1 egg 
1-1/4 cup lukewarm water 
1/2 tsp vinegar 
flour for flouring the tablecloth 
12 apples, pealed, cored and grated or sliced very thin 
1/2 cup sugar light sprinkling of cinnamon 
1 cup melted butter [to drizzle and brush. You will need it all and maybe more] 
1/2 cup ground walnuts or almond meal or breadcrumbs [it's your choice] 

• Place the flours and the salt in a bowl of a standing beater. 
• With the whisk attachment, start beating the flours just under medium. Continue beating at this speed. Don’t stop the beater even while you are gathering the rest of the ingredients. 
• Add the soft butter and continue beating. 
• Add the egg, the vinegar and the lukewarm water and continue beating. 
• When the dough comes together, take off the whisk attachment and put on the dough hook.
• Continue beating just below medium speed for 10 to12 minutes. 
• Take out the dough, it will be sticky, and place it on a floured board. 
• You don’t want folds and air pockets, so knead the dough gently until it no longer sticks to the board. 
• Form the dough into a mound. 
• Lightly butter the top and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. 
• Let the dough rest for a full two hours. 
• Meanwhile prepare the filling. 
• Peel core and very thinly slice or grate the apples on a mandolin.
• Place them in a large bowl with the sugar and stir to coat evenly. 
• Leave the apples until it’s time to fill the strudel. 
• Place a clean white tablecloth or an old sheet on the kitchen table. Don’t use your good linen, because it will stain from the fruit and the butter. 
• Scatter some flour all over the tablecloth and spread it around with your hands. 
• Pick up the dough and stretch it a bit with the back of your hand to every direction. 
• Place the dough on the center of the cloth. 
• Pat it gently to flatten it slightly. 
• Now reach under the dough with the backs of your hands against the dough and gently pull your hands apart slightly and toward you, stretching the dough as you do so. 
• Work your way around the table repeating this process. 
• Stretch the dough further by grasping the outer part of a thick edge and gently tugging on it. 
• When the dough has been stretched a few inches more on all sides, repeat the hand movements described above. 
• In a few minutes of stretching, a paper thin dough will have reached the edges of the table so you will have a few inches of overhanging dough on every side. 
• Rip off the thick edges by hand. Don't use scissors. 
• If the dough tears at any point, just leave it alone. If you try to patch it first of all it won't work and secondly it will harden the dough. Any tears will be covered up when the strudel is rolled. 
• Use a pastry brush to drizzle the dough with melted butter. Do not let the brush touch the dough and be generous with the butter. 
• Turn on the oven to 450 F. 
• Scatter the ground walnuts or almond meal or fine breadcrumbs all over the dough. 
• Pour the apple mixture into a large colander to drain off the liquid. 
• Press down on the apples and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. 
• Arrange the drained apple mixture in a haphazard log three inches from the edge. 
• You may sprinkle a tiny amount of ground cinnamon on the top. 
• Using the tablecloth flip the dough over the apples and drip some melted butter on the top. 
• Now slowly lift the tablecloth and let the dough slowly roll over the apples. My dough was not a perfect rectangle with lots of tears and I ended up with a fair amount of dough scraps. But that’s OK, nobody will know it in the end. 
• Roll over all the dough, cut the extra ends and tuck the ends under. 
• Place the strudel on a buttered baking sheet and shape the strudel to fit the pan. 
• Brush generously with melted butter. 
• Bake in the preheated oven at 450 F for 15 minutes. 
• Then lower the temperature to 350 F and bake for further 30-35 minutes. 
• Dust with icing sugar and serve the strudel warm, cut into slices 
• Cover up leftovers with a clean kitchen towel and store on the counter or in the cupboard. It will keep for a couple of days. However strudel is best on the day it was made.


  1. Wouldn't you know, I just happened to catch your latest post right now, Checked out the cute that you have a great background 'sound system' in the background...didn't even know you had a dog, Zsuzsa!

    I adore your homemade amazing strudel; and never mind the making of the dough in the Kitchen -Aid, I want to see a video where you are rolling the dough around the dining room table, like our grandmothers did! I salute you for keeping our 'heritage alive'! Hugs,

    1. Dear Elisabeth, that was Charlie, our daughter's dog, we are dog-sitting at the moment. I will do a whole video once my knee is fixed. As for our heritage, food is about the only thing I can relate to these days. I will call you when I am recuperating. Hugs

  2. Zsuzsa, I love you! You have brought back memories of my mother making strudel dough! I love this post! xo

  3. Yum yum yum!!!!I love retes. I want to try to make the dough mysef but right now Psoriatic Arthritis is preventing me from doing much of anything. My anuka was the best cook imaginable and I miss asking her"how do you make"?Now my kids ask me that very same question, (they are all boys by the way).

    1. Sorry to hear that Judith. There is always frozen filo. Not as good but better than nothing. :-)

  4. Looks like my post has disappeared so I'll just say that I love home made apple or cheese strudel and this one looks similar to the one my mom used to make.

  5. My Mom used to tell us stories of her mother making rétes tészta on the dining room table, how she too stretched it by hand. I have never tried to make it myself but your post is definitely inspiring me to do so!
    Gul Baba's tomb is very near to where my Aunte Ági lives in Buda (on Rosa Domb), we've visited many times. I had no idea the dough came from the Turks, but it makes sense.

    1. As the töltött káposzta and the töltött paprika - and many, many people courtesy of the Turks. They killed the men and raped the women. I look forward to your rétes Eva!

  6. Oh I am drooling, ZsuZsa! I adore Apfel Strudel ( Retes..) My mother used to make it when we were children, and I can still remember watching her walking around the table stretching the dough.I have never tried making it- it looks soo intimidating.
    Believe it or not, one of the best strudels I ever ate was made at the Schönbrunn Castle restaurant outside of Vienna. There you could watch the ladies stretch the dough ever so thinly by hand, just as it had been done for ages. Bet that doesn’t happen any more..

    1. Ah I believe it. But you know Dolores as long as you follow the recipe, it isn't that complicated. There are lots of pulled strudel videos on youtube to refresh the memory. I just had knee surgery a couple of days ago and it will be a while before I can freely walk around my table, but in a few months I will get my husband to film me making the strudel from start to finish.

  7. May I share with you; a local St Stephen of Hungary Church Strudel Sale Video (dough stretching)? It is a treat and the folks deserve it. Just had their cabbage filled and it was "nagyon finom"! Enjoy the show. Hope you can open it; from their facebook page. Copy and paste the link if you have to:




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