Everything Apfelstrudel: This Comfort Dessert Shouldn’t Just Be Enjoyed In Germany

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Welcome to the cozy, aromatic world of Apfelstrudel, a beloved pastry that has woven its way through the fabric of German culture. Here, we’ll unravel the layers of its history, explore the various twists on the classic recipe, and learn the techniques that give it that special homemade touch.

When I first tried my hand at crafting Apfelstrudel, I was struck by the harmony between its simplicity and complexity. The process of stretching dough to just the right thinness, the blend of spices that perfectly complement the tartness of the apples, and the care taken to roll it all up into that iconic log form—it’s an art that takes patience and a certain finesse.

It’s clear that, in Germany, Apfelstrudel is more than just a sweet treat; it’s a testament to a rich culinary history that favors precision, respect for the craft, and a celebration of regional ingredients.

Everything ApfelstrudelPin

But how you enjoy Apfelstrudel is as important as how you make it.

In Germany, it’s not uncommon to find it served during Kaffeezeit, the traditional afternoon coffee break, accompanied by a robust cup of coffee, and perhaps a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla sauce.

There’s an unspoken etiquette here—a slow, deliberate savoring of each bite, a moment to pause and appreciate the craftsmanship in the pastry that’s a product of heritage and, without a doubt, love. Now, let’s take a closer look at what makes this dessert a cultural icon and a timeless favorite.

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What Is Apfelstrudel?

Apfelstrudel is Germany’s take on a classic comfort food, a type of rolled pastry that’s generous with its sweet and tart apple filling, with a hint of warmth from cinnamon and sometimes a sprinkle of raisins for good measure.

The outside is a delicate, golden crust wrapped around the soft, spiced apples, creating a delightful contrast in textures when bitten into.


The Origins of Apfelstrudel: Tracing Its Roots

Apfelstrudel, or apple strudel, is a beloved pastry that has long been a staple in German cuisine, its origins, however, stretch back to the Habsburg Empire and its influence across Europe. One could trace the ancestry of apple strudel back to the 17th century, where its distant relative, the baklava, was brought to Austria from the Middle East by Turkish invaders.

The Viennese, renowned for adapting and perfecting international dishes, transformed this into something uniquely their own: the strudel.

In Germany, apple strudel earned its place on the table through the cultural exchange within the German-speaking regions of the former empire. The word ‘strudel’ implies a whirlpool or eddy, which aptly describes the spiral pattern of the filling wrapped within layers of thin, delicate dough.

Over time, the Apfelstrudel evolved to mirror local tastes, incorporating the famous crisp apples native to the cooler European climate.

The traditional German Apfelstrudel is enriched with a tantalizing mixture of tart apples, sweet raisins, and a hint of cinnamon, encased in a dough that is stretched paper-thin by hand, showcasing the skill and patience required to create this masterpiece.

Every family, every bakery, every region of Germany might offer its variation, sometimes adding nuts or serving it with a warm vanilla sauce or a dollop of whipped cream.

Varieties Across the Region: Exploring Apfelstrudel Types

Black Forest Cherry Strudel (Kirschstrudel)Pin
Cherry Strudel (Kirschstrudel)

Regional diversity plays a role in Apfelstrudel and what you’ll find in different parts of Germany. This diversity becomes even more apparent when you contrast it with the Austrian version, which is typically very disciplined in its adherence to tradition – a thin, crisp pastry rolled around a succulent apple filling.

In Germany, the variations are indeed intriguing. From the North to the South, bakers and home cooks alike love teasing their recipes with local flavors. For instance, some regions add breadcrumbs to the filling to absorb the apple’s juice, ensuring the strudel is firm and holds its shape once sliced.

Moreover, a deviation from the classic in Germany is the occasional use of different fruits, such as cherries in the Black Forest region or plums in Saxony, creating a ‘Pflaumenstrudel’ that marries local fruit produce with traditional preparation techniques.

The strudel dough itself also varies; some prefer a flakier rendition akin to puff pastry, whereas others stick to the thinly rolled, elastic dough of the original recipe.

To starkly differentiate, Austrians generally serve their Apfelstrudel without deviation – apples, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, perhaps some nuts, and always with the pastry pulled to the size of a tablecloth and as thin as paper. In contrast, Apfelstrudel in Germany is a more liberal affair with adaptations welcomed.

Here are some of the notable types of Apfelstrudel you might encounter in Germany in the table below:

Common TypeRegionDescription
Traditional German (Apfelstrudel)Throughout GermanyMore generously filled than Austrian version, often with added breadcrumbs.
Black Forest Cherry (Kirschstrudel)Baden-WürttembergA twist on the classic with tart cherries incorporated into the filling.
Plum Strudel (Pflaumenstrudel)SaxonyPlums take center stage, employing local fruit for a regional variation.
Puff Pastry Strudel (Blätterteigstrudel)VariousPreferring a lighter, flakier pastry compared to the typical strudel dough.

These variations all share the common thread of comfort and tradition, yet they also demonstrate the fluid boundaries of regional tastes. What remains constant is the love for this dessert, whether in Germany with its personalized variations or in Austria with its steadfast classics. In every bite, there’s a piece of history and a dash of the region’s spirit.

The Art of Apfelstrudel Preparation: Traditional Techniques and Recipes

Peeling the applesPin
Getting ready to make the strudel

Delving into the world of Apfelstrudel, I’ve whisked up not only mounds of buttery, flaky pastry but also traditional techniques that make this sweet dish more than just a recipe—it’s a culinary ritual.

It all starts with the strudel dough, a marvel of kitchen physics, that’s meant to be stretched and pulled until it’s nearly translucent. No rolling pins can take the credit here; it’s all done by hand, coaxing the dough thinner and wider with gentle stretches.

The trick lies in the dough’s elasticity, achieved through a simple yet precise blend of flour, water, a touch of oil, and a pinch of salt. Once it reaches the desired thinness, it’s time to layer on the flavors. The filling—a harmonious mix of tart cooking apples, sugar, a hint of cinnamon, and raisins—is spread out before the dough is rolled into its iconic, spiral form.

But it’s not just about the roll; tucking the ends is crucial to ensure the filling stays snugly within its pastry cocoon while it bakes to golden perfection. The result: crisp layers outside with juicy, sweet apple filling inside, singing in perfect harmony with each bite.

making apfelstrudelPin

Now, let’s get you started with a basic Apfelstrudel recipe to try at home:


  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 7 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 4 large cooking apples (like Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


  1. Begin by making the strudel dough. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the water, oil, and vinegar. Combine the wet and dry ingredients to form a soft dough. Knead the dough until it’s smooth, then wrap it in cling film and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  2. On a lightly floured cloth, start stretching the dough out from the center, working your way around, until it’s very thin and you can almost see through it.
  3. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the sliced apples with sugar, cinnamon, and raisins (if using).
  5. Spread the apple mixture over half of the stretched dough. Fold in the short edges and roll up the dough into a log.
  6. Place the roll onto a greased baking sheet and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the pastry turns golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven, let it cool slightly, dust with powdered sugar, and serve warm.
making apfelstrudelPin

Apfelstrudel Etiquette: How to Enjoy It Like a Local

In Germany, as in Austria, this treasured pastry isn’t just eaten; it’s savored, often marking the highlight of a cozy afternoon. You’ll see it presented on a plate, dusted with a snowy layer of powdered sugar, which lends it an inviting sweetness.

Typically, the strudel is graciously sliced into portions that are neither too large for a tea-time treat nor too small to undermine its status as a dessert. Elegance is key to the Apfelstrudel experience, with a fork being the utensil of choice.

It’s common to pair a warm slice with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream which beautifully complements the spiced apple filling and balances the textures.

To drink, a strong coffee often stands by its side, particularly in the afternoons. The robust bitterness of the coffee contrasts delightfully with the sweetness of the strudel, creating a delightful symphony of flavors. Meanwhile, in a more formal setting, you might find it accompanied by a sweet dessert wine that plays well with the strudel’s fruity notes.

There’s a subtle etiquette to enjoying Apfelstrudel: it’s rarely devoured in haste. It’s about taking the time to relish each bite, appreciating the interplay of crispy pastry and tender, aromatic filling.


Beyond the Classic: Modern Twists on Apfelstrudel

In recent years, I’ve noticed that Apfelstrudel has begun to twist into some exciting new forms, as contemporary pastry chefs and home bakers alike infuse innovation into tradition.

One modern variation that struck me is the use of different types of pastry. While the classic strudel dough is a must for purists, there’s been a playful shift towards using puff pastry for an extra flaky and quick alternative that caters to the fast pace of modern life.

Going beyond the pastry, I’ve seen a fair share of filling reinventions. Creative bakers are experimenting with additional fruits like pears or peaches, spices such as star anise or cardamom, and even incorporating savory elements like cheese into the traditional sweet mix, offering a bold contrast that excites the palate.

In terms of presentation, the reinvention continues. The strudel of yesterday, usually served as a hefty slice, is now morphing into bite-sized strudel turnovers, convenient for enjoying on the go or as part of a larger dessert spread. These miniature delights encapsulate the essence of the classic in a form that’s as whimsical as it is convenient.

Lastly, the plating of Apfelstrudel has embraced a more artful approach in some restaurants. Deconstructed presentations, where the components of the strudel are reimagined in layers or as standalone elements on the plate, invite diners to experience the flavors in a fresh way, engaging not just the taste buds but the eyes as well.

These contemporary riffs on the Apfelstrudel theme reflect a broader culinary trend where the respect for heritage meets the desire for innovation. The essence of the traditional recipe is lovingly maintained, even as the form it takes continues to evolve to suit the tastes and lifestyles of modern dessert aficionados.

Apfelstrudel is much more than a simple dessert—it’s a delightful culinary journey with roots entrenched in Central European culture. Its flaky crust and succulent apple filling are not only a testament to the region’s love for fresh, natural ingredients but also to its history of shared traditions and recipes that traverse borders.

Learn more about German food with our guide to Käsespätzle here and Kartoffelsalat here. Find all our guides to German food here.

Elsa Meyer

By Elsa Meyer

Elsa was born in Germany before moving to the US as a kid. She spent many summers exploring Germany and hanging out with her grandparents before moving back to Germany for university. Elsa has a degree in German history and language. She enjoys sharing her love of her native country with others who want to explore it too! She particularly loves exploring the Rhine Valley and the Black Forest.

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