I had my choice of poison when asked to prepare a dish for a friend's annual Oktoberfest party. Hand stuffing 30 lbs of sausage didn't sound like a great time, so I thought I'd take the easy way out by making a strudel from scratch. The morning of the event I found out just how silly this notion was, and won't be posting the recipe as a result. There has to be a better approach and recipe out there, but this is what I've learned so far.
Strudel is an ancient Austrian pastry most commonly filled with apples, making Fall a great time to eat it. The key is to make a very elastic dough that can be stretched so thin a love letter can be read through it (I must assume all Austrian love letters are written in a size 100 bold font). Onto the process.
Step one -- make the dough. The dough is easy and inexpensive to make, so always make multiple batches as a good CYA policy. Once the dough is kneaded, let it rest for two hours. During those two hours, it's a good idea to toast breadcrumbs in butter, season sugar with cinnamon, chop walnuts, and to drain raisins in rum (or in my case HUM).
Once the period of rest is over, mentally prepare yourself for the most technically difficult pastry process out there. Roll out the dough on a large floured work surface atop a linen. After a few minutes you'll reach a futile point where the dough mocks you by shrinking itself, undoing your grueling work. This is where the hand stretching comes in. Using the back of your hands, pull the dough gently.
The pulling is very difficult solo. I highly recommend my gravity technique, where the dough is hung over a line, or side of a table. The weight of the thick end of the dough will gently pull and stretch the dough. Mise en place make great counter weights. Don't worry about small holes along the side, as no one will see them once the dough is rolled, or they'll vanish as you trim any thick edges.
Once the dough is thin 'enough,' slather it with melted butter (a brush may tear the dough), then lightly sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs all over. Combine sliced baking apples with the drunken raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon sugar, then lay across at a far end. Lift the cloth to aid in the rolling process, and place on a baking sheet. Slather the top of the strudel with additional melted butter, then bake in a pre-heated 400 Dg oven for half an hour, and you may or may not get something similar to what's pictured below -- I hear pastry is an exact science.