Since falling in love with cabbage last year, I’ve been collecting recipes that present the vegetables as a main course. To this end, I am very pleased to introduce Luisa Weiss – maybe you know her as the blogger of the Wednesday chef, author of Classic German Baking or you remember her wonderful travel guide to Berlin – who shares her recipe for cabbage strudel or cabbage strudel …
Choosing favorite recipes from a cookbook you wrote yourself is similar to choosing a favorite child. But if you twist my arm, I’ll admit this cabbage strudel is in the top five at least. Imagine a crackling, flaky, wafer-thin crust that surrounds silky strands of sauteed cabbage, chewy pieces of bacon, and the occasional crunch of a caraway seed, which is considered a soulmate of cabbage in Central Europe. Do you understand what I mean?
When you look at the list of ingredients you might not think about it, but Krautstrudel, as it is called in German, is a surprisingly delicate dish. In Austria, a piece of this is viewed as a light meal, best eaten outdoors with a glass of white wine (although I can think of it as a winter meal). Most people think of apples, plums, or cherries when it comes to strudel fillings, but hearty strudels filled with mashed potatoes or sauteed mushrooms are also traditional and one of the best discoveries I’ve made while writing classic German baking.
Now you can absolutely shorten your way to a delicious strudel, regardless of the filling, with packaged phyllo batter (also known as yufka batter, depending on where your grocer comes from). Instructions are given below. But let me share my case with you: part of the joy of homemade strudel is making the batter yourself, a surprisingly calming and, yes, easy task.
When I started writing my cookbook, I was completely intimidated by Strudel. As a towering classic of Austrian cuisine, I thought that only old ladies in dirndls, who live in mountain-top villages and have decades of baking experience, could master these fragile, thin, crispy layers. How would i ever learn
But the truth is, making the perfect strudel dough isn’t difficult at all. (The glaze on a Sacher torte, well, that’s another story.) It’s much less work than sourdough on the one hand or any dough with yeast on the other. In fact, I would call Strudel the perfect simple yet impressive baking project for this phase of our pandemic boredom.
The dough is as simple as it gets: flour, oil, salt and water are kneaded together for 10 minutes until they are soft and silky. I like to think of it as an upper body workout and meditative exercise in one! (I told you it was a perfect pandemic.) The long kneading results in a wonderfully elastic dough, which is important because once the dough rests a little, it has to be rolled, pulled and stretched until it is so thin that one can read a famous dough through the newspaper.
This is the hardest part as it takes a little mixture of gentle patience and moxie to pull and stretch the dough until it’s the right size and thickness. But once you’ve mastered it and it goes quickly, I promise, you’ll head to the vortex races.
See the note at the end of the recipe if you want to do this with store-bought phyllo.
Makes a 40 cm long vortex
For 4 to 6 people
1 ¼ cups minus 1 tbsp / 150 grams of all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons of sunflower oil or other neutral vegetable oil
1/3 cup / 80 ml cold water
2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil
150 grams of bacon, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 small head of kale, chopped up
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of caraway seeds
Freshly ground black pepper
50 grams of unsalted butter
First make the dough: mix the flour and salt in a small bowl. Pour the oil into the flour mixture and slowly add the water with your index finger. Stir until the batter is together, then toss it on a work surface (you may need to dust it lightly with flour, but once you start kneading don’t add any more) knead for 10 minutes (set the alarm) clock ; time goes by faster than you think). In the end, the dough should be soft, pliable, and silky. Shape it into a ball and place it on the work surface. Turn the bowl over the batter and let sit for 30 minutes.
While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. Put the oil in a large pan. Over medium heat add the bacon and then the onion. Fry for a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the shredded cabbage and stir well. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. At the end of the cooking time, season with salt, caraway seeds and black pepper. Turn off the heater and set it aside.
Preheat the oven to 200 ° C. Melt the butter in a small pan and set aside.
Spread a clean cotton or linen kitchen towel with a size of at least 60 x 80 cm on your work surface. Sprinkle the flour lightly over the towel. Place the strudel dough in the center of the towel and roll it out several times with a tapered rolling pin in both directions. Then clench your hands in loose fists, place them under the rolled out dough, and gently begin to stretch the dough with the back of your hand. Alternately, gently pull the dough with your fingers to stretch the dough evenly. This takes patience and some confidence. You don’t want the dough to tear apart, but you need to stretch the dough out with some assertiveness. Ultimately, the dough should be around 40 × 60 cm. Make sure you pull the edges of the dough as thin as possible. The dough should be evenly thin.
Brush the strudel pastry with a little melted butter. Scrape the cabbage over a quarter of the strudel dough along the longer side, leaving a 3 cm edge around the edges. Carefully fold the sides of the strudel pastry over the filling, stretch them slightly if necessary, and then pull the bottom edge of the strudel pastry over the filling. Use the towel to gently roll the strudel over the remaining dough. Peel the end of the batter over, thin the batter as you rise, and gently press it against the strudel. Carefully roll the strudel onto the baking sheet using the towel as a loop. You may need a second set of hands to do this. Brush the strudel generously with more melted butter.
Bake the strudel for 15 minutes, then take it out of the oven and brush generously with the melted butter. Bake for another 15 minutes, remove and brush with the remaining butter. Bake for another 10 minutes. The strudel should be flaky and browned.
Take out of the oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Cut into 5 cm pieces and serve. Strudel is best on the day it’s made, but stays at room temperature for an additional day or two and can be crispy in a 165 ° C oven.
Make dough with Phyllo
I always make strudel dough from scratch, but if you wanted to try this phyllo batter recipe, here’s what I would do: Find a phyllo batter first. In the United States, it is usually sold frozen. (If you can find fresh phyllo, yay!) In Germany, fresh phyllo dough is usually available from Turkish grocers, where it is called yufka dough. (I always enjoy this little culinary interface between the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires!) Thaw the packaging, remove three sheets, then re-roll and refreeze the remaining sheets or use them all in one separate recipe. Melt 3 additional tablespoons of butter. Place a sheet of phyllo dough on a kitchen towel. Spread thinly with a tablespoon of melted butter and place the second leaf on top. Brush the leaf with the second tablespoon of butter, then place the last leaf on top and brush this with the remaining butter. Then continue with the rest of step 4. To make sure the pastry sheets don’t dry out, prepare the cabbage filling before working with the phyllo batter.
Thank you, Luisa!
PS A love letter to Kohl and a perfect snack cake.