Beer Strudel: Sweet, Savory, and Super Tasty

Cooking with Beer by | Sep 2012 | Issue #68

Photos by Sean Z. Paxton

People will argue whether strudel is German or Austrian, but both countries have great recipes for it. And when made with beer, whether sweet or savory, the tender, flaky and super-tasty dough can become a wonderful meal. There are endless combinations of fillings and flavors that can be rolled around the strudel dough and baked off. If time is an issue, store-bought filo dough can be substituted for homemade strudel dough, but the results of these recipes might inspire you to spend a little time in the kitchen and celebrate Oktoberfest with some homemade strudel.

Duck Fat Strudel Dough
Strudel dough is, plain and simple, very easy to make. The dough is kneaded to create gluten, then left to rest. Then it’s rolled out, stretched to a paper-thin film, brushed with butter and rolled up with your favorite fillings.

Makes: enough for 2 large strudels or several smaller individual strudels

3 cups flour, bread or high gluten
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup duck fat or unsalted butter, room temperature, plus extra for brushing
1 each large egg
8 oz Hefeweizen or Helles-style beer, room temperature

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the flour, salt and duck fat. Using a paddle attachment, blend the fat into the flour until it is incorporated and looks like little peas (similar to pie dough). Next, add an egg to the measuring cup filled with beer and whisk to combine. Add the mixture into the flour/fat dough and turn the mixer on to medium. Once the dough is formed, check its consistency. It should form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl, but should not be sticky. If needed, add either more flour (to make the dough less sticky) or add more beer (if the dough is too dry), one teaspoon at a time until the consistency is right.

Turn off the mixer and switch out the paddle for the dough hook attachment. Turn the mixer to a low setting and walk away for 15 minutes; this will form and stretch the gluten, creating a stretchable dough. After the dough has been kneaded, remove from the bowl and set on a lightly floured surface. Cover with a clean towel, letting the gluten rest for at least an hour (allowing dough to reach room temperature before rolling out), or refrigerate 2–24 hours.

After the dough has rested, create a large work surface, as this dough rolls out to a very large rectangle (3 to 4 feet by 4 to 5 feet). Take a large tea towel, clean sheet or tablecloth, and drape it over the work surface. Lightly flour the cloth to prevent sticking. The cloth will be used to help roll the finished strudel. Using a floured rolling pin or 22-ounce beer bottle, roll out the half of the dough to a large rectangle.

Now, carefully pick up a corner of the dough, placing your knuckles (removing any rings) under the dough, and lightly pull your hands apart, stretching the dough. Work around in a circle, repeating this technique to stretch the dough to a very thin film, thin enough to read a beer bottle label through. If a tear develops, pinch the dough back together. Once finished, the rectangle should be hanging off the work surface and be super thin. Brush the entire surface with melted duck fat or butter; this will create a super flakey dough, full of layers when rolled up.

Once the strudel is rolled out, divide the dough into five even-sized parts or rows, without making marks. Add the filling of choice (making sure it is cool or room temperature, as the heat can melt the dough) to 2/5th’s of the surface, leaving enough dough to fold over the filling. When adding the filling, arrange it within the edges of the dough that will ultimately be the final size of the finished strudel, similar to that of making a burrito, taking into account the amount of filling relative to the length and width of the finished strudel and the baking tray. A standard sheet tray will hold a 18-inch-by-4-inch strudel.

Next, fold the bottom 1/5th of the dough over the filling. Fold over the sides of the dough to make the filling snug inside the dough. Lift the cloth underneath the dough and let the strudel roll over onto itself. Continue to roll until the dough is completely rolled. Make sure that the dough is not formed in a spiral, as the inside layers will not cook. Take the strudel, still on the cloth, and transfer it to a sheet tray lined with either a Silpat or parchment paper. If the strudel is too big to fit on the sheet tray lengthwise, shape the strudel into a horseshoe. Brush the top and sides of the strudel with an egg wash (one large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk) to give the finished strudel a golden brown crust.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake the strudel for 35–40 minutes, or until the outside of the strudel is the color of an English Mild (a golden brown hue). Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing with a serrated knife.

Oktoberfest Strudel
Try serving this strudel filled with bockwurst and onion Bock and caraway jam to your friends and family instead of brats stewed in beer. The flaky layers of the pastry with similar flavors will be a refreshing treat, and you’ll be paying homage to the German cuisine.

Serves: 4–6 guests

1/2 recipe Duck Fat Strudel Dough
2–3 tbsp German-style sweet hot mustard or other beer mustard
1 recipe Onion Bock and Caraway Jam
4 each bockwurst or bratwurst sausages, about 1/4 pound each
2 cups gouda or gruyère cheese, grated
1 tsp thyme, leaves
salt and pepper to taste
egg wash

Make the strudel dough as directed. After the butter/fat has been brushed on the surface of the dough, add a thin layer of the mustard in the shape of an 18-inch-by-4-inch rectangle. Spread the Onion Bock and Caraway Jam over the mustard. Next, take the sausages, slice them on the bias and slightly overlap them onto the rectangle. Top with the grated cheese and season with thyme, salt and pepper. Follow the remaining directions on how to roll and cook the strudel. Serve with more of the mustard used in the filling.

Onion Bock and Caraway Jam
This jam is not only savory, but highlights the intense onion flavors, which bring a sweetness to the jam. Try this in a strudel or sandwich, with pasta or in a casserole dish.

Makes: about 3 cups

2 tbsp olive oil or butter, unsalted
4 each yellow onions, large, peeled and sliced thin
4 each bay leaves, preferably fresh
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp thyme, dried
1 tsp kosher salt
16.9 oz Bock beer
1 tsp caraway seeds

In an 8-quart pot, over medium heat, add the butter or oil. Then, add the sliced onions, bay leaves, sugar, thyme and salt. Sauté the onions with the spices for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and start to turn a golden color. Add in the beer and the caraway seeds. Continue to cook the onions until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the onions are fully caramelized, about 15–18 minutes.

Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook until all the liquid has disappeared, but be careful to ensure that the jam isn’t burning on the bottom of the pot. Remove from the heat, place into a glass jar and let cool. Cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks. To add extra dimension to the final dish, replace the Bock beer with a smoked Helles or a Rauchbier.

Dried Apricot Chamomile and Helles Strudel
Dried apricots have such a wonderfully rich and intense flavor, which they get from drying in the sun. Rehydrating them in a German Helles lager brings a light herbal note from the hops, while also adding a clean malted barley undertone, enhancing the pairing. This strudel is an amazing dessert or an excellent addition to a weekend brunch, German style.

Serves: 6–8 guests

16 oz Turkish-style dried apricots, quartered
1 tbsp chamomile flowers, dried and ground to a powder
10 oz Helles- or Maibock-style lager
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tbsp apricot jam
1 tbsp Helles- or Maibock-style lager
1 tbsp wildflower honey
8 oz almonds, blanched and sliced, lightly toasted
1/2 recipe Duck Fat Strudel Dough, using butter in place of fat
egg wash

Place the apricots into the container, and add the chamomile and lager. Place into the refrigerator for at least four hours, up to 24 hours ahead of when you want to bake off the strudel. The rehydrated apricots will be plump, sweet, and fragrant. Drain off any remaining beer and save for the cream cheese filling.

Place the cream cheese into a mixer or bowl. Add your favorite apricot jam, a tablespoon of the reserved Helles from the apricots, and honey. Mix until it’s fluffy and combined.

Make the strudel dough as described in the recipe. Spread out the apricot cream cheese into a rectangle. Then, add the beer-soaked apricots, topping with 6 ounces of the toasted almonds. Roll the strudel together. Brush the outside with the egg wash and then sprinkle the remaining toasted almonds over the top. Bake for 35–40 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool slightly, and serve with some lightly sweetened whipping cream or a few scoops of vanilla bean ice cream.