Holidays are a cherished time for generations of the Sedler family to bake together.
Laura Zych, together with her mother, Dee Sedler, and her children and grandchildren bake strudel every holiday season.
Laura, a nurse for a cardiothoracic surgeon, and her husband, Rick, a high school teacher and basketball coach, live in Lenexa. They raised three daughters and a son – who live in the area – and now enjoy their three grandchildren. Her mother and father, Dee and Paul Sedler, have been married for 65 years and live in Kansas City, Kan.
Q: Where did you get the recipe?
My mom watched her grandmother, who had immigrated from Slovenia in the early 1900s, make strudel and povitica, and her aunts helped her learn to make it.
Q: Why do you gather the family to make the strudel?
My mom makes apple or cheese strudel and povitica all year and keeps it frozen, ready to share with others or to serve at special events and holidays. My siblings and my husband’s siblings live in the area, so we have lots of big family dinners and always serve strudel and povitica.
Before the holidays each year, my family, including my children and their spouses, my granddaughter, my mom and I bake strudel together and we capture the fun with pictures. Pulling the dough until thin is a skill and my mom is a great coach, showing us how to hold our hands and pull the dough. We want to be sure we know the technique and keep our family tradition alive.
Q: Can you share tips to pulling the dough?
Mom taught us to work on a table, at least 3-by-4 feet, that you will be able to walk around. Risers under the table help to lessen strain on your back.
Cover the table with a clean cloth, lightly dusted with flour. We use a printed sheet, so we can see how thin the dough becomes. We find the dough is easier to stretch with another person on the opposite side of the table but can be done alone.
Lightly flour clean, dry hands. Work the dough out from the center; picking up the edge of the dough and sliding your palms, not your fingertips, under the dough to the center and let the weight of the dough help stretch as you continue hand over hand, lifting and pulling, walking around the table until the entire dough is paper thin.
Keep your hands low, at waist level, while pulling. The dough may stretch enough that it hangs off the edge of the table; remember, the thinner the better!
As the dough stretches, you may get some holes, don’t worry, they will not be noticeable. Once you have pulled it, cut off and discard any thicker outer edges so it is thin and even.
Dee’s Apple Strudel
Makes 3 “pan-sized” strudels
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
5 to 6 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and quartered
Assembly and serving:
1 egg slightly beaten, room temp
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
Place the flour and salt in the work bowl of a food processor. In a separate bowl, mix together the water and oil. With the motor running, pour the liquids into the flour through the feed tube, mixing to form a soft, elastic dough ball that no longer sticks to sides of the bowl; about 5 minutes.
Coat a dinner plate with nonstick cooking spray. Remove dough from food processor and using your hands, form the dough into a ball. Place dough in the middle of the plate, flipping it to coat all sides. Spread the dough to the edges of the plate, cover with plastic wrap and place in warmed oven (heated to about 125 degrees, then turned off) to rise for about 30 to 60 minutes.
To make the filling: Melt butter in a saucepan on over medium heat. Turn the heat off and keep warm.
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.
Thinly slice the apples about 1/8-inch thick using the slicing blade on the food processor or by hand.
To assemble the strudel: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a square, about 18 to 24 inches. Stretch the dough until paper thin. Drizzle melted butter over the dough, spreading to coat evenly. Sprinkle evenly with the breadcrumbs.
Spread the sliced apples evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border from the edge.
Sprinkle sugar-cinnamon mixture evenly over the apples.
Fold the outer border edge of the dough over the apples to help prevent the filling from seeping out while rolling. Gently roll the dough over the apples. Cut the strudel into thirds so a piece will fit a baking sheet, pinch to seal and tuck edges under to hold the filling. (If baking whole, curve it as necessary so it fits on a baking sheet.) Brush the top lightly with the egg.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool about 30 minutes before slicing. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving.
Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore are cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. They have published over 12 cookbooks and thousands of recipes. They are members of Les Dames d’Escoffier and blog at pluggedintocooking.com. Email them at KCComeIntoMyKitchen@gmail.com