How to make Paper-Thin Strudel Dough

October 2, 2018
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How to make paper-thin strudel dough from scratch recipe

This is an old and easy family recipe for paper-thin strudel dough. You only need a few ingredients and it takes about 1 ¼ hours to make (incl. 1 h resting time) from scratch. This recipe yields a flakey pastry with several layers of dough, which you can fill sweet (e.g. apple strudel) or savory.

 

As you might already know, I’ve been stretching strudel dough since early childhood. In kindergarten, my sisters and I ‘helped’ our granny to stretch strudel dough until super thin and way beyond (holes!). But who can blame a 4-year old to find out the limits of a dough that stretches as long and wide as our family table.
 

The stretching became more controlled during my years of elementary school and suddenly stopped in my teenage years. I guess barely any teenagers are really into cooking, right?
 

I kind of picked it up again when I went to college and returned home every few weekends to visit my family. Since we all love apple strudel in our family, my mom often made this treat on weekends. When I was home, I often lend my mom a helping hand.

 

During my years in Boston, I intensified this precious hobby. First, I made apple strudel for friends, then for the MIT cooking group (yes, they have a cooking group!), and later on, I was teaching at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education how to make apple strudel from scratch. My students always seemed to enjoy the strudel dough stretching part most. Once you get the knack of it, you’ll never go back to store-bought phyllo dough.

 

I’ll post a new apple strudel recipe over the next few days. In the meantime, here is my recipe for original Viennese apple strudel, which is my go-to recipe.

Recipe for Apple strudel dough from scratch

Note: You can use this strudel dough not only for apple strudel but also for every kind of strudel with sweet or savory fillings since the strudel pastry doesn’t contain any sugar.

Strudel dough from scratch

Add liquid ingredients and 1/2 of the flour to a bowl.

Mix water, oil, lemon juice, and salt in a big bowl. Acids like lemon juice or vinegar help relax the gluten and make the dough more elastic. Add about half of the flour ….

Apple Strudel dough from scratch

Stir, stir, stir. It should roughly look like pancake batter, which is easy to stir.

… and stir with a spoon until well combined. Stir this pancake-like batter for about 1 minute (helps developing gluten), then add the remaining flour.

Homemade strudel dough recipe

Add the rest of the flour and stir until the ingredients form a dough.

Work the flour in with the spoon, until a dough forms and you can work it with your hands.

Homemade apple strudel dough recipe

Knead the dough for 10 minutes.

Knead the dough until smooth for about 10 minutes, either in the bowl or on a working surface. The dough should be moist but not sticky. If it is too sticky to knead, add a little more flour. You shouldn’t need more than 1 or 2 additional tablespoons.

 

Slam the dough onto the counter a few times to enhance gluten developmen. This is also a good way for aggression/stress relief ;-)

Shape the dough into a smooth ball.

Making strudel dough from scratch recipe

Grease a bowl, put the dough in, and let sit for 1 hour, covered.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of oil to a small bowl, distribute it with your fingers and turn the dough around to cover it with oil.

 

Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and let it sit for 1 hour at room temperature. You can also make the dough ahead and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days. Temperate before using.

Paper-thin strudel dough recipe - roll it first, then stretch it with your hands

Roll the dough with a rolling pin.

Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a lightly floured counter. Flour the counter and the dough every now and then while rolling. When the dough reaches about 13-15 inch in diameter (or even larger) …

How to stretch strudel dough for apple strudel

Pick up the dough and stretch it. Sorry I’m off center here, I used a remote controller to take the pic. It’s kind of artsy though ;-)

…  pick it up then use the back of your hands, particularly your knuckles, to stretch it while turning it around (remove all sharp jewelry first) – kind of like pizza dough.

How to stretch strudel dough paper thin recipe tutorial

Stretch a little further.

When the dough gets bigger and thinner, and thus difficult to handle, put it down on a lightly floured tablecloth.

Apple Strudel dough stretching recipe

Put it down and stretch into a rectangle. The strudel dough should be paper-thin now and is ready for the filling.

Continue stretching the dough on the tablecloth using your hands. Note: This works best if two people are working on opposite sides since the tablecloth can be slippery – but I’ve made it alone very often too, so no worries.

 

Gently stretch the dough paper-thin from the inside to the outside, working your way around the sheet of dough. Stretch it until it starts to look translucent. You should be able to read the titles of a newspaper placed under the dough (don’t do this though, the ink would probably come off).

 
When finished, the sheet of dough should have a rectangular shape, with the shorter edge fitting the baking sheet lengthwise plus an inch on each side overhang.

Apple Strudel from scratch recipe

Add your filling. Here: apples, raisins, breadcrumbs, walnuts. Here is the recipe for the apple strudel in the picture.

Add your filling of choice, most of the time the filling is placed only on one half of the strudel dough, like with apple strudel. Brush the side without filling with melted butter. Fold in the sides of the dough over the filling to prevent the filling from oozing while rolling. Using the tablecloth underneath, roll the dough, starting at the end with the filling. Then gently roll the strudel onto a sheet of parchment paper with the seam-side down.

 
Transfer the dough to a baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Put the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake it – for most strudels baking time is roughly 1/2 hour at 375 °F (190 °C).

 

When the crust turns golden, the strudel is ready. Take it out of the oven, let it cool slightly, cut it into pieces and serve dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

How to make homemade apple strudel

You can find the recipe for my Homemade Apple Strudel from scratch here. This is the one you see in the pictures.
 

Original Viennese Applestrudel

If you prefer an apple strudel without any walnuts, try my recipe for original Viennese apple strudel, which I posted a few years ago.
 

How to make Paper-Thin Strudel Dough

Yield: 1 strudel with the length of a baking sheet

How to make Paper-Thin Strudel Dough

Easy recipe for paper-thin strudel dough from scratch. You only need a few ingredients and it takes about 1 ¼ hours to make (incl. 1 h resting time). This recipe yields a flakey pastry with several layers of dough, which you can fill sweet or savory. Making this dough is really easy, so please don’t get scared off by my lengthy instructions. I wanted to explain how to make strudel dough in detail for you to get a perfect result.

Recipe: Ursula | lilvienna.com

Ingredients

    Dough:
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water (80 g/80 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon + ½ teaspoon neutral tasting vegetable oil (15 g/17.5 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar (2.5 g/2.5 ml)
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt or fine sea salt
  • 145 g/5.1 oz bread flour (about 1 cup + 1 Tbsp); all purpose flour works too
  • In addition:
  • ½ teaspoon vegetable oil for brushing the bowl/dough
  • flour for dusting
  • large tablecloth, parchment paper (recommended)

    >> I recommend measuring all ingredients (please at least the flour) by weight since it is more accurate than measuring by volume.

Instructions

    To make the dough:
  1. Mix water, oil, lemon juice, and salt in a big bowl. Acids like lemon juice or vinegar help relax the gluten and make the dough more elastic.
  2. Stir in about half of the flour with a spoon until well combined. Stir this pancake-like batter for about 1 minute (helps developing gluten), then add the remaining flour, but set 1 tablespoon flour aside first, which you might need later*. Work the flour in with the spoon, until a dough forms and you can work it with your hands.
  3. Knead the dough until smooth for about 10 minutes, either in the bowl or on a working surface. The dough should be moist but not sticky. If it is too sticky to knead, add a little more flour. You shouldn't need more than 1 or 2 additional tablespoons. Slam the dough onto the counter a few times to enhance gluten development, also good for aggression/stress relief.
  4. Shape the dough into a smooth ball. Add 1/2 teaspoon of oil to a small bowl, distribute it with your fingers and turn the dough around to cover it with oil.
  5. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and let it sit for 1 hour at room temperature. You can also make the dough ahead and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days. Temperate before using.
  6. Stretching the dough:
  7. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a lightly floured counter. Flour the counter and the dough every now and then while rolling.
  8. When the dough reaches about 13-15 inch in diameter, pick it up then use the back of your hands, particularly your knuckles, to stretch it while turning it around (remove all sharp jewelry first) – kind of like pizza dough.
  9. When the dough gets bigger and thinner, and thus difficult to handle, put it down on a lightly floured tablecloth, straighten out the wrinkles in both the tablecloth and the dough. Continue stretching the dough on the tablecloth using your hands. Note: This works best if two people are working on opposite sides since the tablecloth can be slippery - but I’ve made it alone very often too, so no worries.
  10. Gently stretch the dough paper-thin from the inside to the outside, working your way around the sheet of dough. Stretch it until it starts to look translucent. You should be able to read the titles of a newspaper placed under the dough (don’t do this though, the ink would probably come off).
  11. When finished, the sheet of dough should have a rectangular shape, with the shorter edge fitting the baking sheet lengthwise plus an inch on each side overhang. FYI, often people cut off thicker edges but I never do since I enjoy the doughy parts in the strudel.
  12. Filling and baking the strudel:
  13. Add your filling of choice, most of the time the filling is placed only on one half of the strudel dough, like with apple strudel. Brush the other half with melted butter.
  14. Fold in the sides of the dough over the filling to prevent the filling from oozing while rolling. Using the tablecloth underneath, roll the dough, starting at the end with the filling. Then gently roll the strudel onto a sheet of parchment paper with the seam-side down.
  15. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet and brush with melted butter.
  16. Put the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake it – for most strudels baking time is roughly 1/2 hour at 375 °F (190 °C).
  17. When the crust turns golden, the strudel is ready. Take it out of the oven, let it cool slightly, cut it into pieces and serve dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

Notes

*I’ve made this dough really, really often and the amounts (in grams) always fit perfectly. I’ve tried it with bread flour and all purpose flour. Both work fine. Be aware, that different brands of flour might act slightly different though. This is why I suggest to set 1 tablespoon of flour aside when working in the rest of the flour. It is easier to add a little more flour to a sticky dough than water to an overly dry one.

https://www.lilvienna.com/how-to-make-strudel-dough/

Did you follow this recipe? You could share your result here. All you need to do is take a picture with your smartphone and send it to enjoy@lilvienna.com
How to make Paper-Thin Strudel Dough was last modified: March 25th, 2020 by Ursula

23 thoughts on “How to make Paper-Thin Strudel Dough

  1. Dulcistella

    And I guess that if you don’t stretch it enough it will turn out rock hard, right? I made strudel from scratch (sweet nd savory) a couple of times and it always turned out good but hard to chew.

    Reply
    1. Ursula Post author

      Exactly! Rock hard. If you stretc it really thin and brush the dough with butter, it will get layers of fine delicate dough. That’s what strudel dough should be like :-)

      Reply
  2. Bea

    Looking at the comment above, when do you coat the dough with butter? I am wanting to make this today and read all the way through the recipe. I definitely don’t want it hard but I don’t see where you butter the dough. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Ursula Post author

      Hi Bea,
      So sorry, I just realized that I never replied :(
      This depends on the filling. If you spread the filling over the entire strudel, there is no need to butter the rolled out dough. Simply brush the rolled up strudel with melted butter before you put it into the oven. When making strudel, I always put the filling on half side of the rolled out strudel and brush the plain side with melted butter to get some layers of dough. Hope you will try the recipe some time.
      Ursula

      Reply
  3. Crystal

    Oh wow!

    My Grandmother used to make strudels like this, but they were savory… but in a completely different manner. She’d roll them super flat out, stretch them, then gently bunch and gather the dough to form noodles, gathered with air pockets. Sometimes she’d chop up dates as a filling. Then she’d boil the noodles in pork broth made from pork hocks boiled for hours in the oven.

    Every time I look up “strudel dough” all I get are the dessert pastries. It’s impossible to find recipes for the variety I’m familiar with. This was super close, though! :D Very nice to see.

    Reply
    1. Ursula Post author

      Hi Crystal,

      Thanks so much for your comment. Honestly, I have a hard time picturing the process you’ve described above. In particular the ‘gently bunch and gather the dough to form noodles gathered with air pockets” part. Not sure if I know these kind of noodles.
      You can use this dough for savory fillings too (e.g. spinach) since the dough tastes neutral and doesn’t contain any sugar. But I think this is not what you have in mind ;-) Do you have a name or picture for these kind of noodles? Maybe I’m able to find some information for you.

      Reply
  4. Crystal

    Yeah. I realize now they’re a bit different! Yours are more like a mille-feuille pastry dough. The noodle-y strudel dough is done very similar, though! My great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother didn’t have an exact recipe, so they eyeballed everything and never really passed on any tips for the dough; your recipe actually came in REAL handy for that with the tips for that pancake dough consistency resting.

    Unfortunately, I do not have any videos or images of the process, because it’s super not common. :( It appears to be a German/Austrian/Romanian thing. I did manage to find a handful of references when I used the term “boiled strudel” in Google. Otherwise, here’s my method:

    1 cup warm water, salt, enough AP flour to make that pancake-like consistency goop that you let sit for 30 minutes. After, you add enough flour to make into a smooth and slightly tacky dough ball and knead (and slam!) for 10 minutes. Oil a bowl, rub oil over top of dough, let sit 60 minutes covered in plastic wrap/kitchen towel. Divide into 4 mini balls and gently roll out about half an inch thick. Re-oil lightly to prevent sticking, fold in half, place on lightly oiled baking tray and cover with plastic wrap/kitchen towel.

    And then it diverges a bit from your recipe. After 15 minutes, don’t use any flour or roll out the dough; just start stretching it by hand using the knuckles method or holding by the edges. Get to twice as thick as “newspaper” thin, then lay down the dough on a NOT COLD surface. Lift the edge lightly taking care not to rip, reach a hand into the middle, palm up, and slowly lift the dough up and down gently (like gentle waves) to stretch the dough out to “newspaper” thin. Once the dough is all stretched out super thin (slightly thinner than yours), at the top of the dough, gently lift about half an inch of dough off the counter/table, and then drop it directly down onto itself (closer to you), so it sort of folds over itself. Repeat lifting half an inch of the dough and bringing the edge furthest away going towards you; don’t roll it!

    With the “noodle” now complete, place it back onto the lightly oiled sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying, and do the rest like that. You should have 4 long puffy noodles. Boil them in pork broth for about 15-30 minutes, until tender. Serve with roasted + boiled pork hocks/ankles, boiled potatoes, carrots and onions (in the same broth as the pork hocks), and thicken up the leftover pork broth slightly to create a sauce for everything.

    My great grandmother sometimes chopped up dried and pitted dates into tiny bite-sized pieces (raisin sized), and sprinkled a small bit onto each noodle before bunching and gathering. My mother tweaked this recipe slightly by adding a tiny bit of baking powder to the noodle dough to make the noodles fluffy instead of being so dense. Go easy on the baking powder, maybe 1/2tsp for a small batch like this, otherwise you’ll end up with the noodles poofing up so much they boil out of the pan!

    Reply
      1. Ursula Post author

        Hi Crystal,

        I think I’ve never heard (or seen) of these kind of noodles. At least the picture isn’t familiar to me. Very interesting! And thanks so much for writing down the recipe. At some point, I have to try it. I know what you mean when saying they eyeballed everything. “Mix until the dough is right” is common in my family too :-) I hope you will be successful in recreating the recipe. Sounds like you do a lot of research.
        Have a nice weekend and let me know when you found the perfect noodle recipe :-)

        Reply
  5. Kate

    This is exactly how I learned it from my mom (and from her Viennese mom), but how do I make sure it doesn’t get gummy and sticky – and keep it more flaky? (total beginner)

    Reply
    1. Ursula Post author

      Hi Kate,
      Do you mean gummy and sticky when rolling it out and streching it? If you, simply use enough flour that this doesn’t happen. It never happened to me :-) It’s worth a try. The key is to stretch it out really thin, otherwise the pastry will be rather firm and hard. Ursula

      Reply
  6. Anne-Marie

    i have a question: is there any kind of raising agent in the batter? do you use self-raising flour? or does the filling and brushed-on melted butter separate the layers enough?

    Reply
    1. Ursula Post author

      Hi Anne-Marie,

      There is no rising agent in the dough at all. In fact, it shouldn’t rise. If you brush the strudel dough with melted butter before rolling it into a log, it will separate the layers. That’s all :-)

      Reply
  7. Greg G.

    Thank you so much for this recipe! My grandmother was Austrian (and her mom’s first name was Ursula as a cool coincidence given I’m sure that’s where my grandma learned to bake from!), and as a toddler I remember her and my mother getting up at 4 am every Sunday morning when we were visiting to make strudel (they would fold it many dozens of times and re-stretch (not sure why, I’m guessing it makes some difference but I’m not a cook so I’m not sure what?), but it made it much more time consuming, but your recipe to me taste just like theirs was, I haven’t had it for probably 35 years or so but it brought back also a flood of really nice memories (not just about strudel making).

    The only thing I did different was to use a tbsp of boiling water to mix with with the flour first before mixing in the rest of the water just because I remember them doing it that way (I’m guessing it does the same essential thing as the acid would, breaking down those protein chains) which makes the dough more stretchy and less liable to get holes.

    Anyways, thank you, though it’s a bit early, this made my Christmas season! I’ve tried many strudel recipes and yours is by far the most authentic (i.e. tastes most like Grandma’s, haha) I’ve found. Sooo happy (as will be my daughter when she comes home for a visit and I’ll send her home loaded up with strudel).

    Reply
    1. Ursula Post author

      Hi Greg,

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I am so happy that you like the strudel and that it resembles the one your grandmother and your great grandmother Ursula ;-) used to make. I’d guess too, that the added hot water is for gluten development. I hope your daughter will love it too. Ursula

      Reply
  8. Thomas

    What are your thoughts on substituting lard for the neutral oil in the dough? It seems to make the crust a bit more flaky, and I tend to prefer the flavor. My mom says that back in Germany, she used to make it with bacon fat.

    Reply
    1. Ursula Post author

      Hi Thomas,
      Sure, go for it! I personally have never tried it but if you like the taste, why not? It should work fine as an oil substitute. Hope you will try the dough. Ursula

      Reply
  9. Tina

    This may be silly, but what kind of tablecloth do you use? I have hopelessly been searching but have not quite found an answer

    Reply
  10. Chai Shu yee

    If I failed stretching the first time. Can I roll it into a ball and rest it again for 20mins before trying again? Will it work??

    Reply
    1. Ursula Post author

      Hi,
      Yes, you can roll it tinto a all and try it later again. If you used some flour for rolling the dough out before stretching it, you may add some drops of water or the dough might get too dry. Simply wet your hands and/or the counter and knead the dough. Wet your hands a couple of times to work in the moisture. Let it rest after this, 20 minutes should work. Ursula

      Reply

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