Baka's Apple Strudel - A Family Original / by MEAT ME

Now that I am single my Mother saw it as the perfect opertunity for me to move in with my Grandmother and help care for her. I figure with the amount of money that I spend on MEAT ME this probably isn’t such a bad idea especially if I want bring you guys more exciting places from around the United States and the world. 

I thought it over and moved in last week, hence the reason there was no post. Between moving and being between pay periods from my freelance work my camera decided to break on me. So without any money to fix it I am lacking fresh content to share with you. So with a little creativity and luck I found an old session I did with my Grandma, or as we call her in Croatian, Baka on how to make apple strudel. 

This isn’t just any apple strudel, she has been making this delightful treat since she lived in Zagreb, Croatia back before World War II. My mother Gordana and her sister Mary together all left Belgium a few years after the war to start a new life in San Francisco. She opened her own dental implant company and soon became known to all of us as the women behind the magnificent Apple Strudel.

Every family gathering that involved food always concluded with her Apple Strudel, I mean after everyone’s reaction you would think it was the reason we were all there. So as it brought all of us together I hope that I does the same for you and your family. 

Here is Apple Strudel exactly as Baka instructed. You will need the following:

Apple Strudel

4 lbs Tart Granny Smith Apples
1 lb of Phyllo Dough - 18 sheets
1 stick of unsalted butter
½ Cup to 1 cup Canola oil (totally up to you)
½ Cup Cinnamon
½ Cup Sugar
½ Cup Bread crumbs

Large Cookie Tray
Cooking Spray

Vanilla sugar
Powdered Sugar
(each in their own sifter)

You are going to combine the Canola Oil and Butter in to a small pot and heat it up until the butter is fully melted and frothy foam appears on top. Stir to make sure there are no lumps of butter, if so turn it off and let it sit.

5 Large Granny Smith Apples usually amount to about 4 lbs. Take each apple and peel it. Then in a large bowl you are going to shred each apple down to its core.

Once complete you are going to take a large handful of the shredded apple and squeeze out the extra juice. Once you are down to a drip place it in a small bowl. You are going to do this until you have 6 equal amounts of apples. Set the juice aside you will no longer need it.

You are going to take 2 towels that are slightly wider than the box of phyllo dough and wet them with hot water, then ring them out till they are nice and moist but not wet. This is to help slightly steam the phyllo dough so you can roll it later without it falling apart on you. You one to work on and one to lay over the phyllo dough once you open the box.

When you buy the phyllo Dough it will come frozen. Make sure you take it out and place in the fridge to defrost at least 24 hours before unrolling it. It is very delicate and hard to work with. If you force defrost it will just fall apart.

Once your towels are laid out take the phyllo dough out unroll it very gently and place on the towel that is out of the way. You are going to take one sheet of phyllo dough, grab it by the top 2 corners, pull it up and away from the stack and then place it gently on the towel.

You will then take a spoon and drizzle the butter and canola oil over the phyllo dough, left to right until 40%-50% of the surface area is covered. Then you will take the sugar and lightly sprinkle it on top followed by breadcrumbs, doing it the exact same way.

You will then grab your cinnamon and lightly sprinkle as well. (Please note the cinnamon will only be applied to the 1st and 3rd sheet.)

Once complete grab another sheet of phyllo dough and place directly over the top of the previous one. If the sheet cracks or rips it’s ok just do your best.  Then repeat exactly what you did with the first sheet but without the cinnamon.

After that place your 3rd and final sheet of phyllo dough and drizzle the butter and canola mixture over the sheet sprinkle the sugar, breadcrumbs and cinnamon for the last time.

Then you will grab one of your bowls of shredded apples and spoon them out across the bottom of the sheet roughly one inch from the bottom. Spread out nice and evenly until you have a filled an area of 3 inches across.

You will then add a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar across the top of your apples. Then using the towel you are working on, pull up the bottom at both end and begin to roll the dough just like you would a sushi roll. Gently tuck the top the dough underneath the apples and continue rolling until the top edge is resting under the roll.

Make sure to tuck in any loose shredded apple. Pull out your cookie try and spray with cooking spray and start preheating your oven at 350º F

Cut the roll into 6 pieces starting at the middle. You will then place the pieces you cut at the middle at the edges of the cookie tray, and the pieces you cut at the end will go in the middle of the cookie tray. This is so the ends don’t get burnt or cook faster than the others.

Repeat this 5 more times for a total of 6 rolls or 36 pieces. You will then place them in the oven for approximately 20-30 minutes. You can tell when they are done by tapping the top of one of the pieces in the middle. If it is soft it still needs to cook, but if it cracks then it is done.

Once you pull them out, let them cool for 10 minutes. Then grab your vanilla sugar and powdered sugar sifters and sift a generous amount over the tops of the apple strudel.

Last but not least try and prevent yourself from eating all of them at once.  I hope you really enjoy one of my family treats; their is no better way to celebrate such a wonderful woman and her food than by sharing with you the recipe. No only does she still cook for me but I have a feeling there will be plenty more of these to come.

Written and Photographed by Sean Rice, Edited by Aaron Black (Meat Inc.)

Honor thy Baka,
aka Sean Rice