German cooking uses apples in many recipes. Apples appear in savory dishes accompanying roast pork and red cabbage. German desserts make the most of tart and sweet apples that grow well in gardens and in farms. Heirloom varieties grow in orchards in Germany, and some specialty farmers now cultivate old apples in the United States. Farmers' markets sometimes feature different types of apples than are commonly available at supermarkets.
Apple strudel is an iconic German dessert. It consists of a paper-thin pastry rolled around a sliced-apple filling. Making classic German apple strudel is an event in itself--the dough must be stretched by hand without tearing. The ingredients for the dough are simple--flour, egg, some salt, butter and a little oil. Once mixed, the dough sits for 1/2 hour to allow the gluten in the flour to relax--making stretching it out easier. Traditionally, the women of a household prepared the strudel dough on a large table. Flour dusted on top of a clean cloth laid on the tabletop prevented the dough from sticking. They each pulled and pressed the dough gently from their places around the table.
Strudel's apple filling consists of thinly sliced, peeled apples mixed with raisins, cinnamon and sugar. Breadcrumbs lightly sauteed in butter mixed into the apple filling add a rich taste and help absorb juices exuded from the apples while cooking.
A baker places the completed apple mixture in a horizontal line stretching across the width of the pastry. Using the cloth underneath the dough, the baker rolls up the pastry on to and around the apples, using up the entire piece of dough. The apple filling softens in the oven while the pastry turns golden and crisp. A good apple strudel pastry should shatter when a fork pierces its surface.
Apple dumplings, baked in the oven, feature whole, peeled and cored apples wrapped in rich pie pastry dough. Apples that keep their shape after baking, such as granny smith, work well in this recipe. Sugar and cinnamon mixed with raisins form a stuffing for the hollow centered apples. The baker rolls out the prepared dough into square shapes, places the apple in the center of the pastry, then lifts and seals the dough around the apples. The apples soften and caramelize after baking in a 350 F oven for about 30 minutes. The dough turns golden but remains tender. Some chefs prepare a brown sugar and butter glaze to accompany the dessert.
Apple fritters have a simple recipe, but a rich and satisfying taste. The basic unleavened mixture consisting of milk, flour, egg, sugar and salt is similar to crepe batter, but is thicker. Chefs peel, core and slice apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Dunked into the thick batter and enrobed with the mixture, the apple fritters saute in butter until they turn golden brown on each side--about 5 minutes on each side with medium heat. Traditionally, cinnamon and granulated sugar top apple fritters. A dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream adds richness to the dessert.