Author Notes: My aunt Klara was famous for her scrumptious strudels. I remember her coming over to our home carrying a tray or a couple shoe boxes covered with parchment paper full of apple, cheese, or sour cherry strudels any day of the week. Our relatives and friends always remarked that Klara’s were the best strudels they had ever tasted.
My dear aunt is long gone, but her delectable strudels are still fresh in my memory. It’s these old favorite desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague made by our mothers, grandmothers or aunts, that we always treasure the most.
Although Apple is the fruit which is mostly used in Strudels, Sour cherries have always been my favorite filling for strudels. Unfortunately their season is very short and I most of the time use frozen; then defrost them and drain before using.
Makes: 3 strudels
For the Strudel dough
• 3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour + about 1/4 to 1/2 cup for dusting and rolling
• 1 extra-large egg, room temperature
• 3 tablespoons any neutral oil (I used Sunflower seed oil), divided
• 1/2 cup or a little more (if needed) lukewarm water
• 1 tablespoon white vinegar
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or more (if needed), melted
• Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
For the Sour Cherry filling
• 4 heaping cups sour or sweet cherries (pitted). If you cannot find them fresh, frozen will work well too or add some lemon juice to sweet cherries. Defrost and drain them before using
• Zest of one lemon
• 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar +1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/2 cup ground walnuts, mixed together in a small bowl
- In a mixing bowl combine the egg, 1 tablespoon of oil, water and vinegar. Add the flour and mix until soft dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until it doesn’t stick to your hands and the working surface, adding as little extra flour as possible.
- Divide the dough into three equal parts, roll into balls; brush each ball with the remaining oil and place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes to one hour.
- Prepare the cherry filling by combining the cherries, lemon zest and confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon and ground walnuts mixture in a large bowl. Set aside. (If you use sweet cherries, add some fresh lemon juice to your taste).
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Melt the butter.
- Cover a table or a large wooden board with a cotton tablecloth and coat with flour. Place one ball of the dough and roll it into a rectangle 1/8-inch thick.
- Very gently pull the dough with your hands in all directions to a very thin, transparent layer; then cut away the thicker dough around the edges with scissors.
- Brush the dough liberally with melted butter. Place 1/3 of the cherry filling along one long edge in a 2-inches-wide strip and about 2- inches from the edges.
- Use the tablecloth to roll the strudel away from you, like a jellyroll, until it is completely rolled; then tuck in ends of the strudel and place on the cookie sheet seam-side down.
- Repeat the same process with the remaining two balls of dough and the cherry filling. Arrange all three strudels on the prepared cookie sheet. Brush the top with butter and bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until the strudels are golden brown and shiny on top.
- Remove from oven, and brush the strudels with more melted butter. Cool slightly and then cut on an angle into slices. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve as is or with a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of ice cream.
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