Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center, add the beaten egg and 1/4 cup warm water, and mix with your hands to a smooth dough. With the bowl tipped to one side, and with open fingers, beat the dough, rotating your wrist. The dough is ready when it pulls away from the bowl and is difficult to beat. Place in a clean, lightly floured bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes.
Melt half of the butter in a skillet. Slowly fry the bread crumbs until golden brown, then set aside to cool in a bowl. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Thoroughly flour one side of a large clean dish towel, place the pastry on top and, with your fingers, gently stretch the dough to a large rectangle about 24 x 20 inches; cover with another dish towel and set aside for 15 minutes. Melt the remaining butter and set aside.
Peel, quarter, core and thinly slice the apples and combine with the bread crumbs, cinnamon mixture and raisins. Brush the dough liberally with the melted butter, then sprinkle the apple mixture all over the dough. Trim away the thick edge with a pair of scissors.
Pick up the dish towel from the shorter side, and push away and down from you to lightly roll the strudel up like a jelly roll. Tip the strudel carefully onto a baking sheet, seam-side down or to one side. Leave the strudel straight, or curve it lightly into the traditional crescent. Brush the pastry with any remaining butter.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Cool, slightly, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and serve warm with vanilla custard, ice cream or whipped cream served alongside.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Tuttle Publishing/Periplus Editions. All rights reserved.