A strudel is a pastry that consists of a filling (often but not always sweet) wrapped in dough. To be more illustrative, the dough is laid out, the filling spread on it, then the dough is rolled, cigarette-like, then baked. The baked pastry is sliced, dusted with confectioner’s sugar and served with whipped cream.
Traditional recipes call for handmade dough rolled very thinly. I can’t roll dough thin enough to read a newspaper through. When I made my apple and almond strudel, I used commercial phyllo pastry. I just laid out the thin layers of dough, brushed them with melted butter then sprinkled them with bread crumbs. The filling is very simple: chopped Granny Smith apples, toasted sliced almonds, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. The light flaky crust is the perfect foil for the soft filling with the surprising subtle crunch of thinly sliced nuts. A wonderful dessert to serve over the holidays in lieu of the traditional apple pie.
Just so it’s clear, phyllo is not the same as puff pastry. I have posted a separate entry with photos of both and a general guide on how each is used.
Apple and almond strudel
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Core the apples and chop.
- Toss the sliced almonds in a hot oil-free pan until lightly toasted.
- Lay a piece of non-stick baking paper on the work surface. Place a sheet of phyllo pastry on it. Spread melted butter on the bottom half of the phyllo.
- Sprinkle bread crumbs on the buttered half of the phyllo.
- Fold the top half of the phyllo over the bottom half. Spread with melted butter then sprinkle with bread crumbs.
- Lay another sheet of phyllo over the first and repeat until all four phyllo sheets have been buttered and sprinkled with bread crumbs.
- Spoon the chopped apples on one edge of the pastry so that about a third of the pastry is covered with apples. Sprinkle the sugar over the apples followed by the salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spread the almonds on top.
- Using the baking paper as a guide, roll the pastry as tightly as you can without tearing the dough to completely enclose the filling.
- When you have a perfect “log”, gently unroll the baking paper and arrange the “log” in the middle of the baking paper.
- Brush the top of the “log” with melted butter.
- Using a sharp pointed knife, make slashes on top of the “log” about an inch and a half apart. This will make slicing later easier. It will also ensure that steam from the filling is released during baking to prevent the pastry dough from turning soggy.
- Lift the baking paper and transfer the “log”, paper and all, on a baking tray.
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and the top is lightly browned.
- Cool the baked strudel for about 15 minutes then cut through the slashes to make separate slices.
- Dust with confectioner’s sugar.
- Serve the apple and almond strudel on a bed of toffee / caramel (get the recipe) and a dollop of whipped cream on the side.