Individual Danish Apple Strudels

This has nothing to do with the typical Viennese strudel made from dough that’s stretched paper-thin, though in Vienna strudels are made from many kinds of dough, including Danish pastry dough. The apple filling here is cooked in advance and cooled to avoid a soggy bottom on the strudel.

Makes eight 4-inch strudels

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 pounds tart apples, such as Granny Smith

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup currants

1/2 batch Christel’s Danish Pastry Dough (see below), chilled

Egg Wash: 1 egg well beaten with a pinch of salt

Granulated sugar for finishing

One cookie sheet or jellyroll pan lined with a double thickness of parchment or heavy-duty foil

For the apple filling, melt the butter in a large sauté pan with a cover or a large Dutch oven. Peel, halve, and core the apples and cut the apple halves into 1/2-inch dice. Add the diced apples to the pan as they are cut.

When all the apples have been diced, sprinkle them with the sugar and cinnamon.

Place the pan on high heat and wait until the butter begins to sizzle. Use a wooden spoon or silicon spatula to stir all the filling ingredients together. Decrease the heat to low and cover the pan. Let the apples steam and exude their liquid for 5 minutes. Uncover the pan, turn the heat to low, and stir in the currants. Continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated and the apples are tender and sizzling again. Scrape the cooked filling into a shallow bowl and allow it to cool to room temperature. To hasten cooling, place the bowl in the refrigerator or freezer and stir the filling occasionally.

Place the dough on a floured surface and lightly flour the dough. Use your rolling pin to press the dough in firm parallel strokes in both directions to soften it slightly. Flour the surface and the dough again, if necessary, and roll the dough to a 12 x 18-inch rectangle. Slide the dough to a cookie sheet or flexible cutting board and refrigerate it until firm, about 10 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut it into two strips, each 6 x 18 inches. Arrange each piece of dough on a piece of parchment paper for easy transfer to the pan. Brush the long ends of both strips with egg wash and divide the filling equally between the two strips, spooning it down the center of the length (A and B). Bring the uncovered side of the dough closest to you over the filling, and then bring the opposite dough over the filling to meet and slightly overlap the first piece of dough (C and D). Quickly flip the strudel onto the pan so that the seam is on the bottom (E). (Don’t be afraid; it’s easy.) Repeat with the second piece of dough. Chill or freeze the strudels for 1 hour before baking them.

About 15 minutes before the end of the hour, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 400˚F.

Brush the outside of the strudels with egg wash and sprinkle generously with granulated sugar (F). Use a paring knife to make a series of 1/2-inch diagonal slashes every inch or so along the top of each strudel (G).

Bake the strudels until they are deep golden and the dough is firm, about 20 minutes.

Cool the strudels on the pan. Trim the ends and cut them into 4-inch lengths.

Christel's Danish Pastry Dough
Makes about 2 1/4 pounds dough

12 ounces whole-milk ricotta

2 large egg yolks

2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 20 pieces

Stir the ricotta and egg yolks together and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix.

Add the butter to the bowl and pulse repeatedly until it is finely mixed into the dry ingredients. No visible pieces of butter should remain.

Scrape in the ricotta mixture and pulse at 1-second intervals until the dough forms a ball.

Invert the dough to a floured work surface and carefully remove the blade. Lightly flour the dough and form it into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap and refrigerate the dough until firm, about 1 hour.