A Holiday Treat - Aunt Ruthy's Apple Strudel
On Sundays, Grandma's brothers – along with wives and children – would visit my great-grandparents, Buba and Zayda, who lived in our courtyard in another building. Because her parents were elderly, Grandma lovingly took upon herself the responsibility of the visit.
Of course, my family was invited and my mother and Grandma worked through the day cooking and serving dinner. Miraculously, there was always room at the table for one more but Grandma never sat. I remember wonderful vegetable soup garnished with bits of brown, sautéed onions served from a large, seemingly bottomless, dented aluminum pot. There was always a meat course, braised with colorful carrots, a variety of other vegetables and potatoes. This cut of stew meat, far less expensive than steak, would have to go far, for Grandma would always be ready to feed her guests.
For dessert, especially at holidays, there was often a wonderful apple cake with raisins and jelly, the crust perfectly flaky. This cake was baked in a large rectangular baking dish from which Rifka would offer this treat, the apples hot in the still-bubbling juice.
This delicious cake was accompanied by hot tea and lemon served, not in a cup, but in a large glass. Since suffering through the Great Depression, nothing was wasted, and so these glasses had been recycled after having served their original purpose as memorial candles or Yahrzeit glasses.
It was common to place a large sugar cube in one's mouth and to drink the hot tea through the cube. I was mesmerized to watch as the adults participated in this tradition.
It is my pleasure to share with you our family's recipe at this holiday season. Enjoy!
Grandma’s cousin Ruthy, who came to America from Sziedlce, Poland, never learned to write English – just Yiddish. This recipe was written by her sister Rose, step by step, in real time, as the recipe was made. The flour was actually measured in a Yahrzeit glass. Grandma added white raisins and made it her own.
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil (canola)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange juice
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 – 5 cups flour
4 large apples - peeled and sliced thin (we suggest gala apples)
1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon
8 ounces strawberry, plum or peach jams
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 additional cup oil (canola)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and set aside. For easy clean-up, you may wish to line the pan with parchment.
Mix dough ingredients together either by hand or with a dough hook until typical dough consistency. Separate dough into 2 pieces and roll each to fit the size of the pan. Place and stretch dough to fit the bottom of pan; it will be rustic, not perfect.
Spread all of the jam on top of dough. Add all of the apples; spreading to cover the dough.
Then sprinkle on a mixture of 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Top with the second piece of rolled dough.
Brush 1/4 additional cup of oil on top of strudel. Sprinkle with mixture of 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 teaspoons sugar. Cut into squares with a sharp knife (cut all the way through).
Bake 30-40 minutes or until brown.