Strudel theory

We recently made strudel for the first time. We followed the recipe in our Time-Life Foods of the World series cookbook and the strudel turned out perfect!

Now, recipes will tell you what you have to do, but not why, so I was wondering if some could enlighten me on two theoretical aspects of strudel-making:

First, the recipe states that the leaves of filo pastry need to be sprinkled with breadcrumbs between layers. Why is this? Is it just to make the crust crunchier, or is it to prevent the leaves from sticking together?

Second, the recipe tells us to brush the outside of the rolled strudel liberally with melted butter before baking. (It also tells us to brush the interior of the individual leaves before adding the filling and rolling it up.) What does this step do? Is it necessary to keep the strudel from burning or to keep it moist or something?

The butter moistens the strudel layers to keep them from becoming burned and brittle. The bread crumbs absorb all the butter to keep the final product from being too greasy. . .


Wait, did you make the filo dough from scratch? Because it’s easily available in any supermarket and my understanding was that it’s really laborious to make at home.

No, we bought the filo pastry from the supermarket. (The Turkish supermarket down the street had no fewer than 12 different varieties!) The recipe we were working from gave detailed instructions on how to make the pastry, but also mentioned that it was possible to use the store-bought variety. One of my housemates who observed part of the process remarked that it was too bad we didn’t make the dough from scratch, as he considered it to be “very therapeutic”.

Sorry, I was looking for the string theory thread.

Strudel theory is similar, where time is a flexible plane folded over onto itself, instead of just a 2 dimensional string. Plus, there is tasty filling.

I made strudel pastry from scratch once … once. My eyebrows raised when the recipe stated that I’d need a clean tablecloth with a pattern. You roll the dough on the tablecloth so thin that you can see the pattern beneath – it’s about four feet square.

Turned out pretty well, but not so much that I’d do it from scratch again.

That’s right… if anyone is interested, there is a YouTube video showing how the dough is prepared and stretched. At one point the presenter demonstrates how thin the dough is by placing some printed paper underneath it; it’s easy to read the text through the dough.

That is how I learned to make it … and have made it that way when I have the time. If I am rushed I use filo.

It is better with the hand stretched dough IMHO but it is a pain in the ass.

The butter and crumbs between the layers are to keep the layers separate during baking (water in the butter turns to steam and fluffs the layers apart- crumbs absorb excess moisture and add texture), leading to the yummy flakiness that causes my dogs to sit near me while I’m eating a piece, waiting for the fallout.