Regardless of the time of year, a warm, delicious apple dessert is always my weakness. There’s just something about apples and pastry that go together perfectly. Couple it with a luscious scoop of vanilla ice cream and it’s even more perfect. This savijača is better known to most of us under another name, the strudel. Croatian cuisine, however, is a direct influence on what is now shaped and known as Austrian cuisine, and this is one of the many dishes that passed on to it.
This pastry is more delicate and a bit more involved than an apple pie, and the resulting dish is more refined, a little more unique, and still absolutely delicious. As a shortcut and alternative to making the dough from scratch, you can also use prepared puff pastry or layers of phyllo dough (make sure to brush in between each one with butter)! Your final dish ends up being crisper, lighter, and flakier. Make this for your next summer party, and you’ll be sure to impress even the pickiest of eaters!
• 300 g all purpose flour
• 1 tsp salt
• 50 g soft butter
• 1 large egg
• ½ cup warm water
• Squeeze of lemon juice
• 10 Granny Smith apples
• 100 g brown sugar
• 100 g white sugar
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• 1 pinch nutmeg
• Juice of 2 lemons
• Melted butter
• Almond meal, lightly toasted
1. Combine the flour, salt, and butter. Mix the rest of the dough’s wet ingredients and add to the flour, kneading together to a soft, smooth dough. Let this rest, covered.
2. Meanwhile, core and peel the apples, then slice thinly.
3. Toss the apples with the sugar, spices and lemon juice. At this point you can optionally toss in raisins, cranberries or nuts. Let this mixture sit for at least an hour to draw out the excess liquid from the apples. This concentrates the flavour and also prevents the final pastry from becoming soggy.
4. While the fruit macerates, start rolling the dough out as thin as possible into a rectangular shape, onto a floured tea towel or tablecloth.
5. Stretch the dough out further by hand. If a tear occurs, gently press the dough back together again. Traditionally, the dough is meant to be thin enough to read a newspaper through it!
6. Brush the dough with the melted butter, then sprinkle with the almond meal.
7. Drain the excess liquid from the apples. Along the longer side of the rectangle, pour the apple mixture in an even line. With the help of the tea towel or cloth, begin to roll up the pastry.
8. Transfer the strudel onto a parchment-lined tray in a U-shape or a coil, tucking the ends underneath it to seal.
9. Brush liberally with butter and poke several vents to allow steam to escape.
10. In an oven preheated at 375˚F, bake the savijaca until apples are tender and the pastry is golden brown.
11. Serve warm with a dusting of icing sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or crème anglaise.