Author Topic: Basic Strudel (Retesek) with Filling Variations (Cottage Filling, Apple Filling, Poppyseed Filling,  (Read 2514 times)

Olga Drozd

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Hungarian Basic Strudel (Retesek) with Filling Variations

(Cottage Filling, Apple Filling, Poppyseed Filling, Walnut Filling, Almond Strudel as in Sopron, Potato Filling, Wine Strudel, Chocolate, Pot Cheese, Cabbage, Mushroom Strudel.

This delicacy was brought into Hungary by the Turks in the sixteenth century.  The pastry is similar to the filo or phyllo pastry that is still used in the Middle East.  However, the Hungarian product is as little related to this as is, let us say, the Pannequet Souffle au Grand Marnier to the ancient Egyptian pancake. A strudel sheet 11 by 14 inches is so thin and light that one can blow it away with a puff of air.

One of the secrets of a paper thin strudel dough is the use of the right flour.  Hungarian housewives use, first of all, flour that is not freshly milled.  Furthermore, they will mix at least two kinds of flour: one that will give body and the other with a very high gluten content to make the dough almost rubbery.  Hungarian flour and Canadian flour or bread flour have the highest gluten content, and they are ideal for strudel making.  Mix the flours half hard flour and half soft flour.  Don’t be surprised at vinegar as an ingredient; this helps to activate the dough.

Lard is used to spread over the dough except when making a strudel with cottage cheese in the filling.  In that case use butter.

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (hard flour)
3/4 cup instantized flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon vinegar
Pinch of salt
1/4 pound butter or lard, melted (1/2 cup)

Sift both flours onto a board.  Make a well in the center, and pour in a mixture of 1 cup lukewarm water, the egg, vinegar and salt. Knead well.  You should knead and beat this dough and slap it down on the counter for as long as 10 minutes until you get a smooth, pucker dough.  A good workout for the dough is very important because this is what makes it stretchable.

Make a round loaf out of the dough, put it on a floured board, spread it with some of the butter or lard, and cover it with a pot.  Let it rest for 30 minutes.

Cover a large table with a clean white tablecloth and sprinkle it well with flour.  Gently lower the dough onto the table. Roll the dough as thin as possible, lifting the dough and turning it around so it doesn't stick.  Then carefully stretch it from all sides, using the backs of your hands.  Form the dough into a longish shape.  Keep going around the table.  Put your hands under the dough, and keep stretching it without making a hole.

Cut off uneven edges with kitchen shears and sprinkle lukewarm water on dough.  Knead it again onto the same loaf shape. Spread it with butter or lard, and let it rest again, covered, for another 30 minutes.

Again start stretching it with the backs of your hands, and cut off edges with shears.

Leave the dough for 10 minutes to dry a little so it won’t stick when you roll it.  Preheat oven to 375 F.

Sprinkle the dough with melted butter or lard.  (By this time you will have prepared the filling of your choice.)

Place the filling mixture on 1/3 of the dough sheet.  Hold the edge of the tablecloth with both hands; gently lifting it upwards, roll the strudel dough into a roulade shape.  Cut it according to the size of your baking pan. Place it in the greased pan and spread the top with more of the melted butter or lard.  Bake the strudel in the preheated oven.


The Cottage cheese you use for strudel must be without any acidity.  It should be made of whole milk and as creamy as possible. To make vanilla sugar buy a vanilla bean and bury it in a container of sugar for a few days.

3 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup raisins
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
Pinch salt
1 pound cottage cheese
1 tablespoon coarse ground semolina

Preheat oven to 375º F.

Whip the egg yolks with softened butter and sugar till foamy.  Slowly mix in sour cream, flour, raisins, lemon rind and salt.  Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes.

Whip the egg whites till they form peaks.  Sieve the cottage cheese and gently fold into the egg whites.  Mix this with the first mixture.

Sprinkle the semolina on the prepared sheet of strudel dough, where you are going to put the cottage cheese filling. Place the filling on top of the semolina.

Roll the strudel (see basic recipe above), and bake for about 40 minutes.

Variations:  An interesting trick is to use 5/6 pound of cottage cheese, and add 1/6 pound pureed potatoes.  The result is a much lighter textured cheese strudel.

A cookbook from Alfold suggests mixing an egg yolk with 1/2 cup sour cream and spreading it over the top of the rolled strudel as a glaze.  Do this before baking.


2 pounds apples
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup melted sweet butter
1/4 cup cake crumbs or fine plain bread crumbs
1 teaspoon fat

Peel and core the apples, and grate them.  Mix with walnuts, raisins, sugar and cinnamon.  Stir in the melted butter and blend well.

Preheat oven to 375º F.  Sprinkle cake crumbs on the prepared sheet of strudel dough.  Spread apple filling on 1/3 of the dough sheet.

Roll the strudel.  Cut according to the size of your baking pan, and place it in the pan.  Spread the top with fat.

Bake in preheated 375 F. oven for 40 to 45 minutes.

POPPYSEED FILLING (Makos toltelek)

Although many traditional recipes mix poppy seeds with apricot jam, you will find grated apple a wonderful taste addition. For yet another variation, reduce poppy seeds to 1/4 pound and instead of the apple use 1 pound pumpkin, diced and cooked. The poppy seeds must be cooked before baking so that they do not become hardened during the baking process.

3/4 cup vanilla sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon flour
Grated rind of ½ lemon
6 tablespoons sweet butter
1 cup hot milk
1/2 pound poppy seeds, ground
1/4 cup raisins
1 apple, peeled, cored and grated

Preheat oven 375º F.

Whip vanilla sugar and egg yolks till smooth.  Add flour, lemon rind, butter and finally hot milk.  Bring to a simmer and mix in the ground poppy seeds.

When the mixture starts simmering again, turn off heat.  Let the filling cool.

When mixture is cool, mix in raisins and grated apple.  Whip the egg whites till stiff and fold them into the filling.  If it is too thick, add a little cold water.

Place filling on top of prepared sheet of strudel dough, and proceed exactly as described in the basic recipe.  Bake for about 30 minutes.

  (Dios toltelek)

Proceed as directed in recipe for Poppy seed Filling, but substitute ½ pound ground walnuts for the poppyseeds.

ALMOND STRUDEL AS IN SOPRON (Soproni mandulas retes)

You may use other jams and also different nuts.

1/3 cup melted lard or butter
3/4 cup raspberry or strawberry jam
6 whole eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup ground almonds

Preheat oven at 375º F.

Let the prepared strudel dough dry for 10 minutes.  Then sprinkle it with some of the melted lard or butter, and spread jam on top.

Whip the egg yolks with sugar.  Add ground almonds.

Whip egg whites till very stiff, and gently fold them into the almond mixture.

Fill top half of strudel sheet with the mixture.  Then roll the dough (see basic recipe).

Sprinkle the rolled dough with more of the melted fat.  Place it gently and loosely, without patting it down, on the baking sheet.  Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes, or till it’s golden crisp.

(Krumplis retes toltelek)

It is difficult to believe that this strudel variety is so little known, even in Hungary, except in some of the provinces.  Although the lowly potato provides the filling, it is one of the best, admittedly robust, desserts in any repertoire.

1 pound potatoes
4 eggs, separated
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1/4 pound sweet butter
1/2 cup ground blanched almonds
Pinch salt
1 cup vanilla sugar
Melted butter

Cook the potatoes in their skins; peel them and rice them while hot.  Let the puree cool.

In a mixing bowl whip egg yolks till foamy.  Add lemon rind and riced potatoes.  Mix in the butter and the almonds.  Preheat oven to 400 F.

Whip the egg whites with the salt and vanilla sugar till they form peaks.  Just before you are ready to fill the strudel, very gently fold egg whites into the potato mixture; use a rubber spatula.

Sprinkle strudel sheet with melted butter.  Spread with potato filling, and roll up (see basice recipe).

Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

WINE STRUDEL (Boros retes)

This has a most interesting and pleasing taste.  The texture is different from the usual strudel; it is much crustier and not as delicate. The technique is not unlike the steam baking of French bread.

4 tablespoons sweet butter
1 cup freshly made white bread crumbs
2 cups medium sweet white wine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large strudel sheet, or 2 small ones
2 tablespoons clarified butter

Preheat oven to 400º F.  Melt the sweet butter and brown the bread crumbs for a few minutes.  Stir to prevent burning.

Add 1 cup of the wine.  Remove from heat and stir in the sugar.

Sprinkle the stretched strudel dough with clarified butter.  Put the filling on the dough and roll as usual.

Twist the strudel into a spiral and place in a deep baking pan.  Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Pour the second cup of wine over the strudel and return it to the oven.  Bake until wine disappears.  At that point the strudel with start crisping.  When it is golden brown and crisp, in 30 to 35 minutes, remove it from the oven.

CHOCOLATE STRUDEL (Csokolades retes)

1 large stretched strudel sheet
1/4 pound butter
6 egg yolks
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup grated semisweet baking chocolate
4 egg whites
1 cup milk

Let the stretched sheet of strudel dough dry for 10 to 15 minutes.

Melt half of the butter and sprinkle it over the dough.  Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix egg yolks well with sugar.  Then mix in ground almonds and grated chocolate.

Whip egg whites until they form peaks, and carefully fold into the almond and chocolate mixture.

Spread the filling over a quarter of the strudel sheet; roll up the dough.

Butter well a large baking pan with low side walls; use all the remaining butter.  Coil the studel in the pan, starting with the outside wall and coiling toward the center. Pour the milk over the coil.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes.  When properly done the milk will have soaked into the strudel and the top of the pastry will be crisp.


In the south this filling is usually seasoned with salt, but some people like it with sugar.  The salty version is great as an accompaniment to wine or beer.

1 large stretched strudel dough
4 tablespoons sweet butter, melted
1 pound dry pot cheese
3 eggs, separated
Sugar or salt

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Let the stretched strudel dough become somewhat dry, then sprinkle it with melted butter and fold it over.  Again sprinkle with some of the butter.  Proceed this way until you have folded the dough to a size twice as big as the baking pan you will use.  Cut the dough in half.

Butter an oblong baking pan and place half of the dough on the bottom.

Sieve the pot cheese, then mix it with the egg yolks and either sugar or salt, to your taste.

Whip egg whites till very stiff, then very carefully mix them into the cheese filling.

Spread the filling evenly on the strudel dough in the pan.  Then cover with the other half of the dough.
Brush with remaining melted butter.  Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until golden red.

Cut into squares for serving. Serves 4-6.

CABBAGE FILLING (Kaposzta toltelek)

2 1/2 pounds cabbage
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 pound lard
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cut the cabbage into fine shreds, salt it and let it stand, covered, for 2 hours.  Then squeeze it well to eliminate most of the liquid extracted by the salt.

Heat the lard to frying temperature. Add the sugar and let it become light brown.  Stir while you do this.

Add the drained cabbage.  Stir it immediately and cook it without a cover till cabbage is golden brown.

Place the cabbage on top of the stretched strudel dough.  Only then sprinkle the cabbage with pepper.

Roll up the strudel (see basic recipe), and bake for about 30 minutes.

MUSHROOM FILLING: (Toltelek gombas reteshez)

This versatile member of the strudel family can be eaten as a hot appetizer, or as the main course at a luncheon, or as a snack with a glass of wine.

1 small onion, peeled and minced
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound mushrooms, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
3 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons bread crumbs

Cook onion in 2 tablespoons of the butter, covered, for about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, covered, over very low heat till there is no liquid left and only the cooking fat remains.  Stir often to prevent burning.  Let the mixture cool.  Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix in egg yolks.  Whip egg whites till very stiff.  Mix them in, and finely mix in bread crumbs.

Spread filling on the stretched strudel dough, and sprinkle with remaining 4 tablespoons butter, melted.

Roll the strudel very loosely to leave space for the eggs to swell during cooking (see basic recipe).  Place it in a buttered baking pan, 17 x 11 inches.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, till crisp.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2015, 04:12:03 PM by Olga Drozd »

Olga Drozd

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Hungarian Strudel (Retes) A Retes Tesztaja
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2009, 09:08:25 PM »
Hungarian Strudel (Retes) A Retes Tesztaja (ah-ray-tesh-sti-ya)

A true retes is neither brittle nor soggy- it is as light and as fragile as the wings of an angel.  Making retes from scratch requires considerably more time and talent, but it is the only way to get the real thing in most parts of the country.  For best results, use special flour with a high gluten content, which can be bought at some food specialty shops or directly from a good bakery.  Retes made from all purpose flour is nothing to be ashamed of either.  As you make your own retes, remember that it has to be kneaded aggressively and stretched lovingly.

2 cups sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar
1 cup butter
1 egg
2 to 3 tablespoons fine, dry bread crumbs
Confectioners’ sugar

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl.  Pour the vinegar into a measuring cup and add enough lukewarm water to make ½ cup.  Melt the butter.  Make a well in the flour and add the egg, slightly beaten, the vinegar water, and 1 ½ teaspoons of butter.  Mix with a wooden spoon and your hands to make a mass of dough (add a few more drops of warm water if absolutely necessary to make it stick together).  Turn the dough out on a floured wooden surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic and blisters start to form on the surface.  Then pick the dough up and slap it down hard on the surface over and over again for at least 5 minutes or 100 times.  Form the dough into a ball, brush it with melted butter, and cover it with an inverted bowl; let it rest for 30 minutes.  Prepare the filling while the dough is resting.

Cover a small rectangular kitchen table (about 30 by 45 inches) with a cloth: use one with a design so you can see if you are stretching the dough thinly and evenly enough (a printed cotton bed sheet is ideal for the purpose).  Sprinkle the cloth with flour, nd set the ball of dough in the middle.  Roll it as thin as possible with a rolling pin, lifting and turning it around so it doesn’t stick.  Brush lightly with melted butter and begin to stretch the dough by hand.  

Slide the backs of your hands and wrists under the dough and start stretching from the center outward.  When the dough is twice its original size or is too awkward to handle, put it back down on the cloth.  Reach under the dough, and with the tips of your fingers (or the back of your hand if that is easier) stretch the dough very gently from the center outward.  Walk around and around the table as you work to stretch the dough evenly.  

Continue the stretching operation until the dough is as thin as tissue paper and covers the table, with the excess hanging over the edges of the table.  

An expert retes maker can stretch the dough gossamer thin without any tears or holes; if you have some, leave them—patching does more harm than good.  Cut off the excess dough with kitchen shears, and let the rest stand to dry for no longer than 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. and grease a heavy baking sheet or jelly roll pan.  Brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with some of the bread crumbs.  Fill the dough at the narrow end with any one of the fillings given below: leaving a 3-inch margin on the bottom and both sides, spread the rest of the bread crumbs in a thin, even layer about 2 ½ to 3 inches wide, and spread the filling evenly over that.  Fold over the margins and start to roll the retes.  Pull the cloth toward you and up to make each turn: do not roll the retes too tightly.  Carefully place the retes in the pan, seam side down.  If it is too large for the pan, bend it into a horseshoe or cut it in two.  Brush the top lightly with melted butter and place the pan in the preheated oven.  Bake for about 30 minutes, brushing the top every ten minutes with melted butter, or until the retes is golden brown.  Let it cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.  Then dust with powdered sugar and cut into 2 ½ inch slices.  Retes may be eaten cold, but it tastes best warm; it can be reheated.


The classic fillings for retes are apple, sour cherry, or cherry, cheese, poppy seed, and nuts.  There is even a sweet cabbage filling for retes.  They are all so good it is hard to make a choice.  When making retes, always have the filling ready before the dough is stretched.

APPLE FILLING FOR STRUDEL ( Almas Toltelek) (ahl-mahsh-tul-te-layk)

1 medium lemon
4 or 5 medium size green cooking apples (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup sugar, more if necessary
1/2 cup coarsely ground walnuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Grate the rind of the lemon and set aside, then squeeze the lemon and set the juice aside.  Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples, and sprinkle with lemon juice to keep them from discoloring.  Mix together the sugar, ground nuts, cinnamon, and grated lemon peel, and set aside.  Just before filling the retes, toss the apples with the nuts and sugar mixture.  Taste, and add more sugar if the apples are very tart.

SOUR CHERRY FILLING FOR STRUDEL (Meggy Toltelek) (Medge tul-te-layk)

2 cups pitted sour cherries (fresh or canned)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup coarsely ground walnuts

Drain the cherries and let them stand in the strainer until just before filling the retes.  Then, toss with the sugar and ground nuts. Retes may also be filled with pitted sweet cherries or a mixture of sweet and sour cherries.  In either case, use less sugar to sweeten the filling.

(Toros Toltelek)

1 pound pot cheese or small curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup sifted vanilla confectioners’ sugar
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/4 cup yellow seedless raisins

Strain the cheese and press it through a potato ricer.  Mix it with the sugar, egg yolks, and lemon peel, and stir in the raisins.


2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons yellow seedless raisins
3 cups ground poppy seeds
1 tart apple, grated

Heat the water and sugar in a saucepan and add the raisins to plump them.  When the syrup comes to the boil, pour it over the poppy seeds and mix thoroughly until all are moistened.  Stir in the grated apple and set aside until ready to use.  Makes enough filling for one large retes.

(Dios Toltelek)

2 cups chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons apricot jam
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tart apple, grated

Mix all the ingredients together to make a thick mush.  Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if needed.  Set aside until ready to use.  Makes enough filling for one large retes.


1 medium head about 2 pounds cabbage
2 tablespoons lard or cooking oil
1 tablespoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper

Core the cabbage and clean it, then grate it.  Put it into a large glass bowl, sprinkle liberally with salt, and turn it.  Let it stand for 20 minutes to half an hour, then squeeze it out.  Heat the lard or oil in a heavy bottomed skillet and cook the sugar in it until it turns dark brown.  Add the cabbage and sauté it until it is brown and limp: this takes nearly ½ an hour.  Season to taste with pepper and salt, and let it cool before filling the retes.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 11:43:22 AM by Olga Drozd »