For the 11th European Artisanal Gelato Day, the spotlight will be on Austria, with a Flavour of the Year that pays homage to a typical dessert from its culinary tradition: Apfelstrudel.
The official recipe, which all gelato-makers are invited to follow and interpret in their own way, customising it with their unique creativity and flair, is made up of a white base with apple pulp and a touch of rum and lemon oil, plus a sprinkling of cinnamon, some currants, preferably dark ones, and - last but not least - breadcrumbs. Apfelstrudel is quite an ancient recipe: the origins of this dessert - literally “apple swirl” - can probably be traced back to Arabia, before being adopted in Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Turkey. In particular, it is believed to be a variant of the ancient Turkish sweet called baclava: it seems to have been Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, after conquering Hungary in 1526, who brought the recipe further into Central Europe. The Austrians then took Budapest, annexing Hungary, and with that the recipe moved down to Vienna, where it became very fashionable in aristocratic parlours before the recipe was finally published in 1827 in Anna Dorn's famous Great Viennese Cookbook, under the name of Apfelstrudel.
There are several different local recipes for Apfelstrudel, based especially on the natural ingredients found in each region, from Austria and Hungary to Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, each of which produces its own version.