Last weekend our blogger friend Frank from Memorie di Angelina messaged us on the Due Spaghetti Facebook page asking whatever had become of us.  Had we quit blogging?  It’s been SO long since we’ve published a post!  July 28th, in fact.

We haven’t stopped cooking, of course.  But life became ridiculously busy for a few months, and the time simply was not there for photo taking, photo editing, and writing.  The arrival of autumn and the apple harvest changed that.

Strudel di MeleCara’s computer does a funny thing – every time she connects it to an LCD projector, which she does often at work, it changes the desktop image to a photo of a slice of torta di mele, apple cake, the subject of a blog post from autumns past.  Her computer executes this backdrop change entirely of its own will, with no human solicitation, as technology gadgets sometimes do.  This week, it served as a hint that it is time to do some baking.

Torta di mele

There is nothing better than baking with apples during the fall season.  Apples are native to our resident state of Minnesota, and people make weekend pilgrimages to local apple orchards for fruit to transform into apple pies, apple crisp and apple butter.

Credit: CBS Minnesota http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/top-lists/best-places-to-go-apple-picking-this-fall-near-the-twin-cities/

Credit: CBS Minnesota
http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/top-lists/best-places-to-go-apple-picking-this-fall-near-the-twin-cities/

In Italy, apples are cultivated in all regions but are particularly common to Valle d’Aosta, Piemonte, Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige.  In fact, when we toured Northern Italy in summer of 2011, we were surprised to discover what looked like vineyards from a distance were actually row after row of apple trees.

Strudel di mele, a distant cousin to baklava, is a recipe with Byzantine origins.  The word strudel is borrowed from German, and it follows that the recipe is native to northern Italian regions which were once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Strudel di meleGolden delicious apples are the preferred baking variety in Italy for their delicate flavor and ability to maintain structure during cooking.  However, feel free to experiment with your favorite apple.  Sultana raisins, pine nuts and a dash of rum give this baked dessert sophistication and an subtle Middle Eastern  quality.

We adapted this recipe from one we found in the Cooking section of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.  The crust was good, but not perfect.  In future versions we will experiment with a lighter and flakier crust.  If you have a favorite strudel crust recipe, please share it with us!

Strudel di mele

Ingredients
For the crust
300g (just over 2 cups) flour
50g (about 1/4 cup) sugar
100 ml (a little less than 1/2 cup) milk
1 egg
75 grams (just over 5 Tablespoons) butter, plus a few tablespoons for melting

For the filling
1 kg (2.2 lbs) apples.  We used 6 medium Golden Delicious apples
70 grams (about 5 Tablespoons) butter
2 dashes of rum
50 g (about 1/2 cup) bread crumbs.  We substituted with the soft, inside part of day-old crusty rustic bread.
100 g (about 1/2 cup) sugar
100g (just over 1/2 cup) sultana or golden raisins
50 grams (just under 1/2 cup) pine nuts
A dash of cinnamon

Other
Parchment paper

Directions
Prepare the dough for the crust by adding the sugar, 75 grams of butter, egg and milk to the flour, either in a small mixing bowl, or on a smooth counter top and forming a well in the mound of flour.  Mix vigorously until the dough is a smooth ball.  Cover with a dishcloth and set aside.

Strudel di mele

Strudel di mele

Peel and core the apples, halve them, and slice them thinly.  We used a mandolin slicer on the second-largest width setting for uniform slices.

Torta di melePlace the apples in a skillet with 70 grams of butter, and cook over medium heat until the butter is melted, stirring occasionally.  Add two generous dashes of rum, and allow the liquor to cook off.  Add the sugar, breadcrumbs, raisins and pine nuts, and cook together over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Torta di meleTorta di mele

Sprinkle flour onto a smooth work surface and roll out the dough into a rectangle of about .5 cm, (1/5 inch) thickness.  Place parchment paper onto the surface of a baking sheet, and brush a thin layer of melted butter on top of it.  Carefully transfer the sheet of dough onto the parchment paper.  The dough will extend over the edges of the baking sheet.

Torta di meleTorta di mele

Transfer the filling onto the dough and spread it lengthwise over the center of the dough.  Fold the shorter sides of the dough up over the filling, and then carefully wrap the longer sides over the filling.  Seal the dough with a bit of milk, brush melted butter over the top, and perforate the dough with a few air-holes to allow the steam out while cooking.

Torta di mele

Bake at 180° C (350 F°) for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Allow the strudel to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature, with a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

If you wish, accompany with an Italian Moscato such as Paolo Saracco’s Moscato d’Asti, which compliments the sweetness and tartness of the apples.

Torta di meleTorta di meleUna mela al giorno leva il medico di torno.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

 

4 thoughts on “Strudel di mele

  1. Welcome back! Oh my, but I was in the same mode as Frank. I was just about to message you guys too and ask where the heck you had been. I was scrolling through my “FAVES” and I saw that I had not heard from you in months. I am so glad to see you back, and this strudel looks FAB. Complimenti!

  2. It’s been far too long since I’ve made apple strudel. Some years ago, I lived in Vienna for a spell and got hooked on it. Used to make it at least monthly—often, I have to admit, with store-bought crust, which made it incredibly simple to prepare. Got to get to back to this!

    As Adri said, it’s great to see you guys back in the saddle..;

  3. Good to know that all is well there. I have made strudel once and did not cook the apples. Usually, I make rocciata, which is typical of Foligno and surrounding area (though your post reminds me that I have not made it in a while). I love the story of the torta di mele displayed by Cara’s computer. I think the message is clear…

  4. Pingback: Strudel integrale di mele | La Caccavella

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