Apple picking is probably my favorite Fall activity. I LOVE it. I could go every week. In fact, I think that may just be my plan this season. Two weekends ago we went to the apple orchard to pick honey crisp apples right off the tree. Eating apples that you’ve picked seconds before you take that first bite…ah it really doesn’t get much better than that.
I always pick more apples than I can eat. This time was no exception. I came home with eight pounds of apples. Hmm, what to do? Fortunately, when I checked my mailbox that same day, I found a postcard from one of our cruise friends.
(Yes, I know the cruise post hasn’t come yet….JenTastic needs to add her two cents to my post before I publish it, but at the rate she’s going, we’ll need another cruise to refresh our memories before this one gets written)
Anyway, that postcard happened to have a recipe for apple strudel, so that is what I decided to make. I didn’t actually use that recipe, but I researched a bunch of them on the Interwebs and took a culmination of what I found. That’s how I roll in the kitchen, people. Improvise. Sometimes more successful than others.
I had completely forgotten how finicky filo, phyllo, whatever you call it, dough is. That stuff will drive anyone crazy. It’s no wonder things like baklava are so incredibly costly, and rarely made at home!
So here’s my apple strudel – step by step, except for the steps where I crushed sheets of filo between my fingers, cursed at my ceiling and then threw them angrily into the trash. Sadly, those steps have been edited. Tis a shame…they were pretty amusing moments.
I’ve never made strudel before, but I used to make apple pie all the time when I worked at a little grocery store after high school so I was fairly confident in my strudel making ability. I always TRY to stick with a traditional version the first time I make something so I actually added raisins. I don’t usually include raisins in food that needs to be cooked because of a traumatic, childhood incident. I love raisins, really I do. As a child, I never went anywhere without my box of Sun-Maid raisins. Everyone knew this, including my brother. One day, my wonderful, caring, nurturing brother decided that he would rip the legs off ants, crush them and feed them to me as if they were my beloved raisins. Apparently, I ate many an ant until Mom discovered what he was doing. I learned of this later in life, thankfully (I have a bug issue, much like my friend Kim) but I’ve never been down with warm, plump raisins.
I really don’t want to think about that right now. I’d rather talk strudel.
Apple Strudel – made 2 strudels (filo was smaller than I remember, so you may have to adjust filling amounts)
5 medium apples – peeled, cored and chopped
1c apple juice
2T corn starch (maybe a little less)
1/4c sugar (may need more if apples aren’t sweet enough)
1 t cinnamon
4T butter – melted
1/2c chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1/2c plain breadcrumbs
4-5 sheets of filo (or as many as you can separate fully and still have enough to work with) Filo should be thawed, but very cold. Keep it frozen until day before you use it. Keep in fridge until you’re exactly ready to use it and keep it under a damp, cold cloth when working with it. (got that?)
Add corn starch to 1/4c of apple juice to make a slurry – set aside.
Peel, core and chop apples. In a large saucepan combine apples, remaining apple juice, sugar, cinnamon and raisins. Cook over low to medium heat until apples are softened, about 10 minutes. Stir slurry to mix, add to apple mixture, stir continually for another minute. Add vanilla and remove from heat. Stir in pecans. Let cool.
I haven’t added the pecans yet, but here they are:
On a clean, dry surface lay out one piece of filo (I put a piece of parchment right on my baking sheet and it was very easy to move around.) Lightly brush it with butter; a pastry brush OR your fingers will work…just be careful, it’s very fragile. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. (Yes, I know! I didn’t realize this was a secret part of strudel. You can also use cake crumbs if you happen to have them, but really who keeps cake crumbs around? I thought that’s what your mouth was for??)
Repeat with 3 or 4 more layers, butter, breadcrumbs, repeat. Finally you’ll have a little stack of layers. I added half of the filling just off center on my filo stack.
Then I carefully rolled it up (with more cursing and under the breath mumbling) and ended up with these beauties! Don’t say a word about the misshapen one, you’ll give it a complex. When it was all baked and sliced, it looked perfectly normal thankyouverymuch.
Brush the tops with remaining butter. Bake at 450 degrees for 15-18 minutes. I think mine took about 20. Just watch them.
Oh la la! Look how pretty they are! and NOTHING makes your house smell better than apples and cinnamon cooking.
I let them cool overnight and then I sprinkled them heavily with powdered sugar and sliced. Here are some glamour shots of my strudel. Head shot.
That’s it! With practice, the filo will come easily, but as I was fighting with it, I was already thinking of back up plans. You could cut the filo in half and layer in muffin tins making strudel cups. I may try that next time, but I WILL be making more of this soon! I COULD have made one big one, but I’m not sure how I would have rolled it up. It was hard enough with these little ones. I’d guess that as I get better at the filo, I can make larger ones.
These actually made perfect size slices. I took them to work and shared. I did. Really.
My cruise friend Julia, whose postcard sparked this whole idea, suggested topping it with a warm vanilla sauce or of course, vanilla ice cream. Both sound good, but warm vanilla sauce is now on my “to do” list.