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My parents were in the Kosher catering business for over 50 years. Everything was home-made, mostly by my Hungarian mother, including every conceivable dessert, and, especially her renowned strudel. This would be a 2-day project about every 3 months, ( one day to prepare the nuts, and home made jams and fillings, and make the dough, and let it rest, and the next day to stretch the dough, make and bake the strudel ) and would produce about 3,000 pieces that were carefully sliced, packed and frozen for future use. The reglazing, slicing, packing. and freezing lasted well into the night.
I especially recall her stretching the dough. The table was about 10'x 3-1/2', and the piece of dough she started with was about 3-4 lbs. She would stretch it slowly, but so deftly, it was amazing. It finally was so thin that it billowed as she worked it around the table, much the way a thin silk sheet would billow as you fluff it over a bed. The dough was more than translucent, it was nearly transparent, and you could certainly read through it. (I was allowed to watch this process, but not touch; my nails were long and manicured, and were a hazard to the thin, delicate dough!)
The fillings were added, it was rolled up, and wound onto enormous baking sheets. Then, glazed, and scored for baking. This was repeated about 10-15 times. It was a totally mezmerizing process.
No, I never did get a recipe, and like many of the wonderful foods they created, I would never attempt to compete with perfection, but the very last time she was making the strudel, Mr. A. and I went up to help her. (My dad, her very competent sous-chef, had died about a year before.) We set up a video camera and filmed the entire process, along with her comments. It would qualify for a great documentary!
I still have some of that strudel, reserved for very special family celebrations. And, when defrosted and very gently heated, it tastes as fresh as if it were made yesterday!
Posted by Malkie Altman