Thin layers of homemade dough are rolled up around fresh crisp apples in this popular German apple strudel dessert that dates back hundreds of years.
As with everything else this year, there was no Oktoberfest. It’s not the first time in its more than 200 year run that the world’s largest beer and folk festival didn't occur. But it's been a while; the last time was back in 1949. With more than six million visitors over the 16 days of the festival, I’m betting social distancing wasn’t going to be possible.
What is Oktoberfest?
What started as a festival to celebrate a king’s wedding in 1810 grew into an annual event known and emulated throughout the world. The celebrations involve plenty of Oktoberfest beer, which you may know as a style offered from your favorite brewery each fall. Yet these beers vary from on to the other. Oktoberfest beer may be more symbolic of the time of year they're released than an agreed-upon style. For instance, they’re often a red ale when brewed in America but are usually pale lagers at the fest in Munich. Funny, I always thought they were dark beers.
No matter the exact style, with all the beer comes the need for food. When you think of German or Oktoberfest food, bratwurst and pretzels may come to mind. But there are plenty of other lesser-known foods to try. Spaetzle, roast chicken, pork knuckle, seafood sandwiches, and buttery cheese spreads are just a few.
After a visit to Champlain Orchards and loaded with a bushel and a half of a few of their 115 apple varieties, it was time to bake. Champlain is my favorite local orchard to go apple picking. They have unique varieties that you won’t find in the typical grocery store. It’s fun to bring them home and taste them all. Plus, it's a beautiful spot to visit.
Desserts may not come to mind when thinking of Oktoberfest, but they do exist. And when it comes to apples and German desserts, apple strudel (called apfelstrudel, in German) is a good place to start. This is the kind of dessert you make on a fall afternoon when you have some free time and are looking for an enjoyable baking project.
What is strudel?
Strudel can be made with a number of different fillings. It can be sweet or savory. Earlier this year I made one with salmon, as odd as that may sound. Strudel dough is rolled out as thin as possible and the filling, whatever it may be, is rolled up inside. The result is several attractive layers of pastry and filling.
Although strudel is a little labor-intensive, it’s not all that difficult. There are ways to simplify the process. For instance, you could use store-bought phyllo dough. It won't get you the same result, and it's not how you’d find it at an Oktoberfest. Yet I’m sure it’s still delicious, and if you’re short on time, I won't blame you either.
A few tips for making apple strudel:
- Letting the strudel dough rest in the fridge makes it easier to stretch and roll out, so don’t skip the step.
- Par-cooking the apples in the microwave may seem odd, but doing so helps them keep their shape when baking the apple strudel.
- Using a towel under the dough makes rolling the strudel easier and helps to prevent tearing.
- Don't wait until the strudel is cool to slice. Doing so will cause the pastry to crack.
- This makes two smaller apple strudels. If you want, freeze one before baking and save it for later.