The term “strudel” refers to a pastry made from rolled dough with different fillings, which is very common in Central Europe, Bohemia, and, in Italy, in the territory of Trentino Alto Adige, Friuli Venezia Giulia, and Veneto. The most common recipe is a sweet one, filled with apples, pine nuts, and raisins.
History of strudels
The first mention of strudels dates back to the eighth century B.C., in the Assyrian area, and a few centuries later, similar sweets were also found in Greece in the third century B.C. Apples were missing, but there were fillings of dried fruit and nuts wrapped in a layer of pasta. The recipe has changed over time and diversified into various preparations: baklava, güllaç, börek.
It can therefore be assumed that the strudel has Turkish origins and derives from different recipes and different ancient places, even if the dessert that is closest to it is certainly baklava, a Byzantine dessert made up of a phyllo dough wrapper with a filling of sugar syrup and dried fruit.
The Ottoman Empire popularized the recipe until, for the first time, baklava took the rolled shape and different fillings, including fresh fruit-based ones. When Hungary was again annexed to the Austrian Empire, this dessert also spread to that part of Europe, inextricably linked to the name strudel, by which it is known today.
The apple-based filling is almost contemporary and is linked to the large production of this fruit in those areas. Not surprisingly, it was this filling that took over in Italy, despite the many other variants in Central Europe, thanks to large crops of apples from Trentino-Alto Adige.
Variations of strudels
The first thing that differentiates one strudel from another is definitely the dough. There are different types:
Pulled dough/strudel dough/crazy dough: a simple mixture of flour, water, vinegar, and very little oil or, in the Viennese variant, with butter instead of oil. This dough is rolled out — “pulled,” in fact — as thin as possible, in order to give greater prominence to the filling. It should be so transparent that one could read a newspaper placed under it.
Puff pastry: two types of dough (one based on water and one based on butter) superimposed and then rolled out and folded, then rolled out and folded again, until you get the classic pastry we all know, with the various flaky layers.
Shortcrust pastry with ricotta: a very light shortcrust pastry, low in fat.
Leavened dough: composed of yeast, flour, and liquid (usually milk). It is similar to brioche dough and is especially suitable for ricotta strudel (Topfenstrudel).
In addition to the different types of dough, we also find a great variation of fillings.
For sweet strudels, in addition to the famous apple strudel with pine nuts, raisins, and cinnamon (typically made with Golden Delicious apples), we can find apricot and ricotta, cherry and hazelnut, pear and chocolate, pear and ginger, currant and ricotta, and grape, mascarpone, and rhubarb.
For savory strudels, you can taste the classics with stuffed vegetables and cheese, asparagus and prosciutto, fish steak, lamb fillet, or sauerkraut and sausage. A salty strudel can be served both as an appetizer and as a main course.
Now that you know about the origins and various types of strudels, it is time for the recipe. This pear, hazelnut, and chocolate strudel is prepared with pulled dough, or crazy dough, with a delicious filling that has nothing to envy from its progenitor apple strudel.
Pear, hazelnut and chocolate strudel
Strudel is a delicious dessert traditional from the Sudtirol area in Trentino Alto-Adige. Traditionally made with apple, but also with an amazing pear and chocolate combination.