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Apple Strudel Done Right

I don’t have extra space to say much this week, other than the fact that on Christmas Day at my friend’s house, I ate one of the best things to ever enter a human mouth: her German mom’s homemade apple strudel. I learned that true strudel is (1) painstakingly difficult to make and (2) more similar in consistency to a baked pasta than a pastry dough. You will probably never attempt this at home, and neither will I, but isn’t it good to know that a recipe this authentic and delicious is being preserved for eternity on the Internet?

Hedy’s Apple Strudel
Makes three strudel rolls, each about 13 inches long.

For the Dough
¾ cup lukewarm water
1 egg
1 heaping teaspoon salt
2 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
3 ¼ cups flour

Mix the first four ingredients in a small bowl. Put flour in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and start working in the wet mixture from the middle out. Add a little more water if necessary. Oil your hands and knead on a lightly floured surface until very smooth, elastic and soft, at least a half-hour. Form a ball and give it a light coat of oil. Let rest, covered, in an oiled bowl for at least two hours. Meanwhile, assemble the filling.

For the Filling
3 Granny Smith apples plus 2 others such as Gala or Golden Delicious (but not Fuji), sliced thinly with a little lemon juice added to keep from browning
1 ½ sticks melted butter, kept warm
8-ounce container sour cream, stirred until smooth
1 cup sugar
1 cup raisins

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan on all sides and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Flour the board and cut dough into three equal pieces. Roll out one at a time into a large rectangle whose short side is about 13 inches. Keep the other pieces covered until ready to roll. Use a rolling pin at first, but also use backs of hands and knuckles to stretch dough as thin and evenly as possible. (The longer the dough rests, the easier this will be.) You can cut off the thick or uneven edges to square it up if necessary.

Brush the dough, edge to edge, with melted butter. Spread about three heaping tablespoons of sour cream on the dough, then lay over one-third of the apples, keeping about four inches of dough free of fruit at one of the 13-inch edges. Sprinkle the apples with sugar and a handful of raisins. Roll the dough up loosely from the short end, ending with the free edge and lay it into the pan. The top of the roll should be the apple-free end, but be sure the seam edge isn’t on the top—put the seam on the side if you can. Butter the tops of the rolls generously in the pan so there are no naked edges. You can put a little cinnamon in the remaining sugar and sprinkle this over the top of all.

Bake about 75 minutes, making sure the strudel looks nicely browned. Let cool for a few minutes, but eat while it’s still warm. Have sugar on the table to sprinkle on extra as you eat.