Thursday, September 19, 2013

Vegan Mofo #16 - Mark’s Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel)...

Vegan Mofo #16 - Mark’s Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel)

The Region - Germany/Austria
The Book - The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe
The Author - Mark Reinfeld
The Recipe - Apple Strudel
Page # 203
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - About 45 minutes

Right out of the oven

We leave the Caribbean this evening to travel back to Europe with one of my favorite desserts, apple strudel. Mark Reinfeld states in his book that Apple Strudel is to Germany what Apple Pie is to America and this is probably true. I don’t think there are many - or any - German kids who grow up not knowing what an apple strudel is. Yet interestingly enough Apple strudel is said to actually originate in Austria, Vienna to be more specific. More interesting still is that the idea apparently came from the Ottoman Empire’s popular Baklava and came to Austria via Turkey. Of course Austrian Cuisine has been shaped, and expanded by all of it’s neighboring regions over the centauries so who knows where the influence really came from. At least it can be said that Apple Strudel became popular in Austria during the 18th century.

Freshly Sliced 

Apple strudel was regularly featured throughout my childhood, and I can recall many evenings sitting around my livingroom with my Oma and Opa, a big plate of strudel out on the table for snacking after dinner with coffee and tea. A warm strudel always reminds me of home, and my family, of childhood and my grandparents - as do Danish pastry but more on that some other time. - A warm strudel is comforting, and connects me with memories, people, and places I haven’t been, or haven’t seen in ages.

It’s interesting then that despite apple strudel holding such an important piece of my heart that up until now I’d never actually made one myself. In fact after I left home and moved the the United States I stopped eating strudel all together. Maybe it’s because once I moved I wasn’t really around German people anymore and so some of that heritage slipped away. Maybe there just wasn’t any good apple strudel to be had near my new home, or maybe I simple got busy eating more “American” type foods. In any case I’d never made one, and despite my aversion to working with dough or pastry I decided this mofo was the perfect time to try my hand at making this delicious traditional pastry.

Of course, Mark’s version isn’t exactly what I’d call traditional. I grew up on white flour strudel, that was all apple. For his strudel Mark uses the healthier spelt flour, as well as raisins, cardamom, and poppy seeds. I don’t know if they use these things to make Strudel over in Germany or Austria but it’s not what I’m used to, so I was skeptical of it. Turns out it was totally delicious, and reminded me so much of home and family - although for pure nostalgia’s sake I think next time I’ll make the strudel sans raisins. Now my strudel may not look perfect, it’s a little uneven and didn’t get as golden as I would have liked but that’s all my fault and not Mark’s. My pastry skills often leave something to be desired, but it certainly didn’t hurt the flavor. I think even if you’re no pro at pastry this is a relatively quick and easy dessert to whip together, or of course you could serve it for breakfast - which is actually what I did. However you make it, however you serve it just give it a try, because it’s really to die for.

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