Pellegrino Artusi’s Strudel Recipe

Artusi's Strudel

Artusi’s Strudel

Pellegrino Artusi published La Scienza in Cucina e L’Arte di Mangiar Bene, the first truly successful Italian cookbook, in 1891 – when he was past 70 – and continued to work on new editions until shortly before his death in 1910. The book is still selling briskly today, in part because the recipes are good and in part because his commentary is great fun. And here are his instructions for making Strudel, a pastry he no doubt introduced to many of his readers.

Don’t’ be taken back if the ingredients that go into this pastry remind you of a hodge podge, or if its appearance, when cooked, calls to mind something ugly, like an enormous leach or a disgusting slug. You’ll find you like it.

  • 1 1/4 pounds (500 g) gray pippin or other good quality, soft  apples
  • 2 cups (250 g) flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) unsalted butter, plus a piece the size of a walnut
  • 1/2 cup (about 85 g) Corinth Raisins
  • 4/5 cup (about 85 g) powdered sugar
  • The grated zest of a lemon
  • 2 to 3 pinches of powdered cinnamon

Mix the flour with warm milk, a piece of butter the size of a walnut, a lightly beaten egg, and a pinch of salt, so as to obtain a fairly stiff dough, which you should let rest for a bit before using.

Peel, core and slice the apples finely. Roll the dough out into a sheet as thin as you would if you were making taglierini (a type of pasta; the sheet should be about as thin as a dime). Next, spread the apples over the central part of the sheet, leaving the edges exposed.

Spread the raisins, lemon zest, cinnamon, and sugar over the apples, then melt the butter and sprinkle almost all of it over the apples too.

Roll the dough up on itself to form a roll and put it on a buttered pan; grease the outside of the strudel with the remaining butter and bake it.

My note: Artusi was often hazy on baking times and temperatures; bake your strudel in a 400 F oven (200 C) for 20 minutes, and then lower the temperature to 350 F (175 C) and bake 10 more minutes.

Returning to Artusi, he concludes by noting that Corinth, or Sultana raisins differ from passolina raisins in that the former are small and black, whereas the latter are larger and light brown, and says to scrape the lemon peel with a piece of glass to obtain the zest.

A note: Strudel does invite improvisation. When my mother-in-law made the strudel I photographed, she added dried plumped cranberries and chopped walnut meats to what Artusi suggests. It went very fast.

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Categories: Italian Cakes and Pies

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.

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