Homemade Pear Strudel
If you have read my "About Me" page you know my mom is a huge inspiration behind this blog. She has inspired and continues to inspire me to create. I want to do the same for my children. My mother recently visited and brought our family strudel recipe along. After enjoying her strudel for many years, it was nice to make it side-by-side with her. This strudel is perfect for sharing during the holiday season, because it is full of heavy, rich goodness (4 sticks of butter). So sit back with a cup of coffee and enjoy the step-by-step process of this sweet Austrian pastry.
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To make your own version of pear strudel you will need:
*We made two strudels, one for now and one to freeze for later. Cut your recipe in half if you want to make one.
8 tablespoons of Softened Butter
10 tablespoons of Warm Milk
4 cups of Flour
Two pinches of Salt
4 tablespoons of Sugar
12 large Pears (or any fruit variety in season). We used some fresh pears from my mother's tree.
4 cups of Vanilla Wafers
1 1/4 cups of Chopped Pecans (optional). Can also add other fill-ins like coconut, raisins, or a different nut, etc. We used pecans because they are in season in Texas. Or you can add fresh cranberries for a holiday flair.
4 teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon
2 cups of Sugar
4 sticks of Butter
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
Step 1: Setup a workstation to peel and cut the pears. Setup a trash bowl for the pear skins, and a bowl for the sliced pears. Also keep a moist towel nearby for clean up, because the pears are juicy and make a mess. Then, peel and slice the pears into small cubes.
*Tip: Sprinkle sugar onto the cut pears so they don't turn brown.
Step 2: Prep your other ingredients. Roughly chop up the pecans. Set aside.
In a food processor or with your rolling pin, finely grind the vanilla wafers.
Step 3: Make the pastry dough.
Beat two eggs with a whisk.
Then add the softened butter, warm milk, salt and sugar. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
Once your ingredients are mixed well for the dough, add the four cups of flour slowly - one cup at a time.
This part of the process is a workout. Fully mix in the flour. Once you have added all of the flour, set the spoon aside and finish incorporating the flour into the dough with your hands. As you can see below, I had to enlist my mom to finish the dough.
Add all of the flour and work the dough until it does not stick to your fingers. Then, flour your countertop and knead the dough for five minutes.
There are so many outside factors that go into making dough: temperature, humidity, etc. So use your best judgement on how much flour to add as you knead the dough. You don't want the dough to be too sticky.
Divide the dough in half. Set one ball of dough aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 4: Roll out the dough with a rolling pin. Sprinkle flour onto the countertop and the rolling pin surface. Work from the center out. Keep rotating the rolling pin so that the dough is evenly dispersed.
Step 5: Melt the four sticks of butter in the microwave. Place a paper towel over the butter so the butter doesn't splash during the melting process and dirty the microwave.
Generously apply the melted butter to the rolled out dough with a pastry brush.
Step 6: Once the entire strudel is greased, sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon onto the dough.
Step 7: Add 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract to the pre-cut pears. Mix well so the vanilla flavor soaks into the pears.
Step 8: Spoon the pre-cut pears onto the pastry dough. Keep about an inch of clearance from the edge of the dough so it will seal later.
Step 9: Sprinkle the finely crushed vanilla wafers on top of the pears with a spoon. The wafers soak up the extra pear juices without taking away the flavor.
Step 10: Here you can incorporate your add-ins. I chose to use chopped pecans. However, as I mentioned above you can add raisins, coconut, cranberries, etc.
Step 11: Use your pastry brush to add one more layer of melted butter.
Step 12: Roll the pastry dough to create the strudel. Start with clean, dry hands and roll up the long ends.
Once your strudel is rolled, secure the seams of the pastry by pressing the ends into the dough.
Secure the ends as best as you can so that the juices do not run out during the baking process.
Step 13: Spray your baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Your baking pan should have raised edges so the juices don't fall inside the oven as they seep out of the strudel.
Carefully place the strudel onto the greased baking pan. Seam ends face down onto the pan. Then apply one more coat of melted butter with your pastry brush.
Step 14: Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown, about 30 to 45 minutes. Then, enjoy!
Step 15:Prep the other strudel for the freezer. Take the ball of dough that was set aside and apply steps 4-12. Grease parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray. Wrap the non-baked strudel in the parchment paper. Then wrap it in aluminum foil. Freeze to enjoy for another day.
When you are ready to bake it, let the strudel defrost. Brush with butter and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown.
I hope you enjoy this decadent Austrian classic. It is a favorite in our household at Thanksgiving and Christmas.