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Making strudel dough may seem intimidating to some bakers, but there are a few tips that usually make it easier. Combining the dry ingredients first ensures the flavors are distributed evenly through the dough when it is baked. Next should come the fat, which should be mixed in to create a crumbly dough. This will be transformed to a smooth texture when the dough is kneaded. The wet ingredients should be mixed thoroughly into the dough before the baker tries to knead it. If the dough is very sticky, the baker can simply add more flour to give it the right texture.
Strudel dough generally starts with about 2.5 parts flour and a pinch of salt. It is typically very dense, so no baking soda or yeast is necessary. The baker should stir the salt and flour together very thoroughly. Any other flavors to be included in the dough, such as sugar or cinnamon, should be added during this step. Typically, sugar and spices may be added to taste and whisked briskly into the flour.
Next comes about .25 part oil or butter. Oil should be gently stirred into the flour until the mixture forms crumbs about the size of peas. The same amount of butter should be soft, but cold, and chopped into small cubes before being mixed into the flour. Either way, the strudel dough should look like a bowl full of powdery peas during this step. The fat is what gives strudel dough its density, and butter, canola oil and peanut oil are all acceptable choices.
A little less than 1 part water usually goes into the bowl next. The baker should gently stir the water into the strudel dough with a fork until everything starts to stick together. At this point, kneading the dough with slightly oily or buttered hands helps distribute the fats and bring the dough together. Ideally, raw strudel dough should be slightly tacky, but not so sticky that pieces cling to the baker’s fingers. If this happens, adding a pinch or two of flour to the dough should help create the right texture.
After the dough is kneaded, all that’s left is rolling it out. This may be done on a flat, lightly floured surface with a large rolling pin. The dough should be quite thin when finished, no more than about .25 inch (about .5 cm) thick. The baker may then fill the strudel dough with spiced apples and raisins, currants and pears, cranberries, or anything else he or she would enjoy eating. The filling should be gently wrapped in the strudel dough and baked until golden brown and heated all the way through.
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