Strudel is one of those treats that everyone loves. If I met someone who was anti-strudel I'd back away if I were you. Strudel has origins in Austria and Hungary dating back to the late seventeenth century. Traditional Austrian strudel is not made with phyllo dough or puff pastry but with a thin dough with a high gluten content that gives it elasticity. Traditionally, strudel can be filled with cherries, apples, spinach, saurerkraut or cheese. This vegan Apple Strudel recipe features apples picked fresh from an apple orchard in Pennsylvania and is enhanced with rum, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.
1 1/3 cups bread flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup water
1 Tablespoon canola oil
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons rum
3 tablespoons raisins
2 pounds apples that are best for baking, such as granny smith or braeburn, peeled, cored and sliced to 1/8 inch thick.
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 ½ cups fresh bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons (40 grams) Regular Vegan Butter or non-hydrogenated stick margarine, melted
about 1/3 cup Regular Vegan Butter or non-hydrogenated stick margarine, melted (for brushing)
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Make the strudel dough by combining the bread flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl. It's crucial that you use bread dough because it has a higher amount of gluten which will allow the dough to be stretched out paper thin. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the water, canola oil and apple cider vinegar. Now mix this mixture into the flour and salt, using a spoon until just incorporated.
Transfer the mixture onto a clean lightly floured surface and knead it for 5 minutes. Lightly coat it with canola oil, place it back in the bowl, cover it with a plastic bag and let it rise for 1 ½ hours.
While the dough is rising, prepare your filling by placing the raisins and the rum into a small bowl and microwaving it for about 15 seconds. This will allow the raisins to soak up as much of the rum as possible. Set aside.
Peel and slice your apples then weigh them to 2 pounds. Place them into a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and the rum and raisins until well incorporated.
To make fresh breadcrumbs, process bread in a food processor until it has the consistency of rough sand. On a large skillet, heat the 3 Tablespoons of Vegan Butter until hot then add the breadcrumbs and saute until golden, about 3 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 400F (204C). Now we're ready to roll out our strudel dough. Remove any jewelry you have on your hands. Place your dough ball on a tablecloth or something similar that's at least 2 x 3 feet. This is crucial because later we're going to use it to roll up the strudel. Due to the thickness of the dough, it's not possible to roll it up without something underneath it. Roll out your dough as much as you can with a rolling pin. Now pick up the dough and placing it on the back of your hand, carefully stretch it. You'll want to support the dough on the back of your hand in different areas of the dough as you stretch it out slowly and consistently.
Once you feel that you can no longer safely stretch out the dough this way due to the risk of tearing it, transfer it to the tablecloth and gently lift up the dough and stretch it into place. Since we used bread flour, this dough will stretch to remarkable limits. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to stretch the dough enough to where it's transparent enough to read a newspaper through it. If you tear the dough and make a small hole, don't worry. It's going to get wrapped up anyway.
Coat the dough with 3 Tablespoons melted Vegan Butter. You can use your fingers but if you use a pastry brush, be careful to not tear the dough. Now sprinkle the breadcrumbs onto the dough. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts onto the dough about 3 inches from each short edge of the dough in a 6 inch strip that goes lengthwise across. This strip will be across the upper part of the dough which will allow us to wrap the whole thing up. Spread the apples over the walnuts. If there are extra juices in the bottom of the bowl, use roughly up to ¼ cup of it by pouring it over the apples in the strudel. Using more of the juices will cause the strudel to leak excessively in the oven.
Fold the short end of the dough over the filling and tuck it under the apples if possible. Lift the tablecloth at the short edge of the dough so the strudel rolls onto itself. Carefully continue this roll until the entire strudel is rolled up. Transfer the strudel over to a large baking sheet by lifting parts of it with a floured spatula and 'scooting' it over slowly. You may want to dust some flour on the tablecloth and baking sheet in order to make the strudel slide over as easily as possible.
Now form the strudel into a horseshoe shape and brush the top of it with melted Vegan Butter. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown with the rack on the upper third of the oven. You may want to put another baking sheet on the rack underneath the strudel to catch any juices that may drip down. Cut the strudel with a serrated knife and serve warm.