Photos and text by Corey Amaro:
How to make apple strudel? Ask a Viennese to come to your house, and hopefully she brings the super duper 700 type flour otherwise forget about it. Merisi is Austrian, who lived in Rome, then in the States... she loves to cook, bake, and take photos. When Merisi came to visit she said, "I have only been to Lyon for a day, other than that I have never been to France."
I expected we would go sightseeing, driving around in search of quaint villages, take a million photos.... I never expected that she was going to come with 700 type flour and cook with ten thousand pounds of butter, literally never dipping her toe into the Mediterranean.
Merisi asked me, "If I liked to cook or bake?"
French Husband jumped in, "I like to eat! What are you making?"
I gave him a look that meant shhhhhhhhh. Then added, "You didn't come here to cook, nor bake for us..."
But before I could finish she handed me the flour.
Serious stuff. Most visitors come with gifts, but no one has ever brought me flour before.
I thought this was a joke. But I soon found out that I was in for gaining weight and might as well get used to it.
I opened a bottle of wine, handing her a glass and an apron.
"First you take a large bowl, add the flour, then crack an egg into the center," said Merisi as she stirred the egg into the flour, she added a sprinkle of water, and some olive oil, then said, "Do you mind peeling the apples?" Annie asked, "How many?" She pointed to the basket, "All of them."
Four and a half pounds worth.
While Merisi stirred in the egg, Annie leaned over to me and whispered, "Who is coming over, is there a party going on?"
"Just four little piglets, get peelin'!" I whispered back.
Merisi mixed the dough, then when it formed a ball she kneaded it, until it, "Blistered," she informed, "The dough, not your hands!" She laughed to herself as Annie and I peeled the apples. Then she put the two balls of dough back into a warm bowl, covered it tightly with a towel, then placed the bowl under the Provencal sun.
Soon there after I received a new title, "Gopher." Which meant: Corey "Go for this, Corey go for that, do you have a rolling pin? Do you have another bowl? Luckily, her wishes were easy to meet...
"Do you have dry bread crumbs?"
"Do the French like baguettes? Does a dried baguette count? The French often have a dried baguette hanging around." I offered it to her.
Merisi took the dried baguette put it into the Cuisinart blending it into crumbs. Then she asked if I had a pound of butter.
"Annie!?" I screamed, "Forget piglets! We are going to be like this (I puffed up my cheeks and put my arms wide like I was carrying a large ball in front of my stomach,) Merisi middle name is Butter Ball!"
Merisi added a pinch of cinnamon, and two tiny teaspoons of sugar to the melted butter. I asked, "Why so stingy with the sugar? Hell we are gonna gain ten pounds anyway why not fifteen?" Merisi laughed, "Gotta cut calories somewhere."
When the bread crumbs were golden and caramelized she put them aside. I could have gobbled those down just like that. So she hid them!
Next she rolled the dough lightly.
Each time Merisi rolled the dough, she would then flip it over.
Eventually, she spun it like a pizza. Her days in Rome where showing up. It was impressive how thin the dough became.
Annie shook her head, "This is complicated, couldn't we just buy the dough?"
The Viennese woman growled at the French woman, and the America woman had to pull the two of them apart. Annie sighed, "I thought I ask, you know we have pretty good pre made dough in France. I think when you and I make this we can just buy the dough, okay?"
"We? Do you have a mouse in your pocket Annie? I am never making this, it is too complicated. We can just fly to Vienna."
"Oui? Oui what?" Annie questioned me.
I tell you so much is lost in translation.
When the Viennese woman wasn't looking I poked Annie and whispered we'll buy the dough.
Merisi told us the trick to spinning dough is to keep your hands in a fist and use your knuckles. She made it look so easy.
Once the dough is as thin as it can be, lay it on a cloth (a bed sheet would work) and gently pull it thinner.
Next with a pastry brush cover the pastry dough with melted butter. Then add the caramelized bread crumbs.
Once the butter, and caramelized bread crumbs are down, then add a thick layer of apple slices and raisins. Roll the strudel pastry by picking up the dusted cloth and gently flipping it over. Repeat the apple layer then roll the strudel pastry over until you come to the last five or so inches... leaving this bit free of apples.
Put it in parchment paper on a baking sheet (with sides) and roll the strudel on to the baking sheet, tricky, delicate business I might add!
When it is done, take it out, slice it, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve hot.
Hot apple strudel by Merisi, Vienna for Beginners!
Note:For the recipe please go to Merisi's blog which you can find by clicking here.
Tomorrow Merisi says we are baking Potato Strudel, then apricot dumplings...
Annie pulled me aside and asked, "Is she trying to kill us?"
I said, "No Annie, she wants us to say: "Ouiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii all the way home.""
Of course that was lost in translation.
Come to think of it Marie-Antoinette was from Austria, and you know what the French did to her! I got to remind Merisi that Annie and I were born in America in case she forgot.
Too bad for French Husband.