I will never forget the first time I had my mother-in-law’s strudels… My husband was beside himself excited and much like when I was told we were having pigs in a blanket (halupsi), I had imagined strudels to be some filled pastry, as that was the only thing I’ve heard called strudels.
Turns out Germans from Russia have their own variation of strudels and it isn’t anything like a filled pastry. Studels in Germans from Russia country are much like cheese buttons, little pieces of heaven. Dough + heavy cream. I should have known.
Essentially, it is highly elastic dough stretched extremely thin and then rolled up into a log. It is then cut into about 3 inch pieces and fried in a pan. The strudels are then traditionally served with a cream chicken or cream beef liver gravy. Talk about heart healthy! 😉 My husband’s grandmother often made them with a cream pheasant gravy.
My mother-in-law uses a pillow with a cloth over it to stretch the dough. The dough is easier to stretch into a very thin sheet when you lay it down over the top of the pillow then the cloth helps roll them. Below is a short video demonstration.
By all technicality, strudels aren’t incredible hard. They are just extremely time consuming due to the several hours it takes to let the dough rise. My mother-in-law typically only makes them for large family or special events. She has taught my nieces as well as myself how to make them so we can continue the tradition in our families for generations to come.
These recipes are my favorite. They may not be the most healthy for us, but they carry on a tradition that has been made in our family for two generations. Hopefully it can become a family tradition for you too!
- 1 1/2 cups warm milk (around 100-110 degrees)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5-6 cups flour (I used 5 1/2 cups)
- 3-4 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 large onion, diced
- Water and Crisco for frying
- Cream Chicken Gravy
- 1 1/2 pound chicken, cubed
- 1/4 cup flour
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 2 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 - 2 cups heavy cream
- onion soup mix and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, whisk together warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes to activate yeast.
- Add eggs, baking powder, and salt. On low speed with stand mixer or hand mixer, mix until combined. Slowly add flour, mixing well to incorporate. If using stand mixer, switch to dough hook. Knead (by machine or by hand) for 7-10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary. Dough should be firm, but not sticky and should spring back. Form into a large ball.
- Pour dough out into a large bowl sprayed with non-stick vegetable spray and cover with a damp towel. Let dough rest in warm spot for about an hour (until doubled). You can also use a bread machine for mixing, kneading, and resting.
- Punch dough down, cover again, and let rest for half hour.
- On a well floured surface, pour dough ball onto surface and cut into 4 equal sections. Work each section into a bun shaped ball. Cover them again with the damp towel and let rest for another half hour.
- On the floured surface, roll one bun at a time to the size of a dinner plate. Set it aside to rest for 15 minutes. Spread a thin layer of cooking oil on top of the dough and wait another 15 minutes before you stretch them.
- Start stretching the edges between your thumb and first finger. Pick up dough, holding it between your fisted hands and the length of your arms tossing-pulling and stretching the dough. When the dough becomes paper thin and transparent or it may start to tear holes, lay it flat on the table and continue to stretch the thicker edges. You can put a cloth on a pillow and lay it down on top of the pillow to stretch the edges too.
- When stretched as big as it will go, just lift two corners of the cloth and it will roll up automatically to the middle. Cut down the center line and then cut the rolled dough into about 3 inch pieces. Let rest until ready to fry.
- When ready to fry, heat up a large electric skillet on 325 degrees. Add 2 1/2 cups water and 2 tablespoons of Crisco to the skillet. Add the onion and potatoes. Once hot, lay strudels in the pan giving them some room as they will expand.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes on 325 degrees and 15 minutes at 250 degrees. Most of the older generation will tell you never to lift the lid on the strudels until done, I needed to flip mine about halfway through so that they didn't burn on one side and they still turned out perfect. When you do lift the lid, lift it quickly so the water from the steam doesn't drip on the strudels. Repeat frying as needed, in batches. Keep strudels warm before serving.
- Cream Chicken Gravy
- Toss diced chicken cubes in flour in a large bowl.
- In a large skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat, heat up oil. Brown chicken pieces in batches in the skillet until browned and cooked through. Once cooked, remove from pan. Discard any excess oil from the pan.
- Reduce heat to low, add cream of chicken soup and heavy cream. Whisk to combine.
- Add chicken back to pan. Season with onion soup mix and black pepper to taste. Add more cream or milk to thin if necessary.
- Serve cream chicken gravy over warm strudels. Enjoy!
- Can also use beef liver or pheasant for gravy. Note that gravy measurements aren't exact, feel free to add or omit as necessary.