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.
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.
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 ….
… 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.
Work the flour in with the spoon, until a dough forms and you can work it with your hands.
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.
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.
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) …
… 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.
When the dough gets bigger and thinner, and thus difficult to handle, put it down on a lightly floured tablecloth.
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.
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.
You can find the recipe for my Homemade Apple Strudel from scratch here. This is the one you see in the pictures.
If you prefer an apple strudel without any walnuts, try my recipe for original Viennese apple strudel, which I posted a few years ago.
FAQ on how to make the perfect strudel dough
If you have further questions about making homemade strudel dough, like what to do when there is a hole or why the strudel dough doesn’t strech well, you can find the answers in my free ebook (click purple picture below).
I’ve put together this booklet to answer the most common questions about strudel dough in an FAQ to help you to get a perfect result straight away. The FAQ include many tips and tricks and is not available on the blog. These tips are all based on my personal experiences that I have collected over the years.
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 [email protected]