Justin’s mother was one of 12 Cowan children. At every family function her brother Ray’s wife Donna would bring her apple strudels. The Cowan sisters would hide them from the rest of us so they could eat them! Finally Donna decided it was time to teach us how to make them and invited anyone interested to Aunt Clara’s for strudel lessons. After that Aunt Clara and I would annually get together and make several recipes of them to freeze for the holidays. Then Aunt Clara moved to North Carolina and would send me boxes of apples every Fall from an orchard there, and I would continue to make them by myself. Our sweet Aunt Clara passed away in 2008, and I haven’t made them since. This Thanksgiving Justin’s sister Joni and her daughter Kelle and I decided to rekindle the tradition. Friday after we had our leftovers we got to work. The recipe makes 6 strudels, so I did 2 as an example, Joni did 2, Kelle did 1, and my son Logan decided he would do 1. Hopefully this family tradition can be carried on now! BTW, they are magnificent, and it is such a special treat to pull one out of the freezer. They aren’t very large and one will be devoured immediately. Because of that and the time involved I always at least double the recipe when I am making them so that I can give a few as gifts. When we finished making them Joni said “This was fun – I wish we had made more!” It’s a wonderful way to spend time in the kitchen with family or friends, and the rewards are even greater!
¾ c. cold butter
1 c. warm milk
2 egg yolks
3 c. flour
(Extra wide heavy duty foil)
Cut butter into the flour with a pastry dough blender. Beat the yolks with a fork and add them to the milk. Pour the mixture into the flour and stir until blended – it will be a very sticky dough. Cover the bowl and chill the dough at least 2 hours or as long as overnight. Divide the dough into 6 pieces in the bowl. If doubling the recipe keep part of the dough in the frig while working with the rest. Roll out one piece of the dough on a heavily floured cloth into a rectangle about 12” long and 8-9” wide. You will probably have to continue flouring your rolling pin and cloth so the dough doesn’t stick to it. Move the rectangle onto a piece of foil about 18” wide. Brush the side facing up with melted butter, leaving about 1” without butter around all edges. The unbuttered section will help the strudel seal more easily.
1 stick cold butter
1 c. flour
1 c. sugar
Cut the butter into flour/sugar mixture with a pastry dough blender till crumbly.
6-8 apples, peeled and sliced thinly
Box of vanilla wafers made into crumbs with a food processor
Raisins if desired
About 1-1/2 sticks butter, softened
Line up all the ingredients in the above order in a row as if in an assembly line. In a vertical line down the middle of the dough piece about 2” from the top and bottom and about 4” wide layer the filling ingredients, finishing with about 4 thin slices of butter. It’s hard to estimate how much of each ingredient, but you want the end product about 3” tall so experiment as you go. I would guess about 3 TB of sugar for a pile of apples that are about 2” tall, maybe more if you are using tart apples. Be generous with the cinnamon. I usually go fairly heavy on the cookie crumbs and maybe 3-4 TB of the struesel.
Fold one side of the dough over the filling pulling it so it is somewhat tight around the filling. Bring the other side of dough over the first side, sealing it. Roll the top and bottom edges down to close and finish sealing the strudel. Gently flip it over so the seams are on the bottom of the foil. Brush the top of the strudel with more melted butter and sprinkle more streusel on top. Bring the side foil edges together like a tent and roll them down to seal the packet. As you did with the strudel, roll the top and bottom edges of the foil toward the strudel to close and seal the packet. Freeze until ready to use. (I have kept mine probably as long as 3 months before.) You may choose to bake one before you freeze the others!
To bake, unroll the foil and set it on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees about 30-45 minutes, depending on whether it was frozen when you put it in the oven. Bake until it is only lightly browned. The apples will continue to stream so don’t let it get too brown. Let cool a bit before serving. Whew! Lots of work but well worth it all...