I think my recent fun playing with phyllo (or filo) dough got me wanting to make something else with it.
I’ve wanted to make apple strudel for a while now. Odd that I’ve never made it before, but you know how easy it is to get stuck in a rut. You know, a non-phyllo rut.
I’m sure it happens to everyone.
Anyway, last week, I decided to climb out of my rut and make some strudel….
I went with a recipe in my tried-and-true Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook – a book my mom gave to me for Christmas in 1987. It’s completely falling apart, and I don’t want a new one. I like the falling apartness of it. It’s been used a lot in all these twenty-three years. It’s loved.
Anyway, I mostly adhered to the recipe. I increased amounts of nuts and raisins, and I used golden raisins instead of dark. My version is at the end of this post.
First, I combined the apples, nuts, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and bread crumbs. I made the bread crumbs out of crusts of bread, and some of the bread wasn’t quite dried out, so come of the crumbs are a bit bigger than I’d have liked. But it didn’t seem to matter in the final product.
Mmmmm…looking good already….
Next – time to assemble the layers of phyllo. I’ve got more lumpy bread crumbs and melted unsalted butter here, plus the dough, of course. And that’s parchment paper on the counter.
Now, the book says to form an 18” square with the sheets of phyllo, painting with butter and sprinkling with bread crumbs with every layer.
The sheets of phyllo are rectangular – 9” x …more than nine inches. I think it’s 9 x 13. Anyway, in order to make the square I overlapped them so that sheets of dough were going horizontally at the upper left and lower right corners and vertically at the upper right and lower left. Get it? You will once you do it. You can give it a try with sheets of paper to see what I mean.
But I don’t advise doing it that way necessarily, and I’ll explain why later on.
Okay, now once you’ve got all the layers of dough assembled, it’s time to fill and roll up the strudel.
It’s basically like making a burrito. A really, really big burrito.
But sometimes written directions are a little confusing. To me, anyway. See step 5 below? I need to put the apples in a 12” by 4” row. If you look at the picture, that seems fine and dandy…
But the real-life apples are bigger. If I made the pile only 4” wide, it would be incredibly tall…and unwieldy. So I spread the pile out a bit more.
Then, as directed, I folded the sides over…
And then I folded the bottom edge up…
And by the way, look how self-conscious my hand is in these two pictures. It doesn’t like being photographed. It doesn’t know how to hold itself…how to arrange its fingers, how to look relaxed. So please forgive it for looking so tense and awkward.
Anyway, by the way, I brushed the ends of the phyllo (the folded over parts) with melted butter to help everything stick together.
Then I put the camera down and used both hands to roll up the strudel.
Pretty cool, huh?
Well, almost. It split. Right along one of the seams. Which is why I don’t necessarily recommend the overlapping method I used. It leaves weak areas. I’m thinking next time around I’ll overlap in a more random way, so there aren’t any weak sections.
Anyway, I carefully placed the strudel on a buttered sheet pan. And yeah, as I took this picture I had visions of the whole thing suddenly flipping off the counter. Fortunately that didn’t happen.
I put the strudel in my preheated 375 degree oven, and I kept my fingers crossed. Well, in my head. Not in real life. In real life I probably did the dishes or fed someone.
And, after about 45 minutes, the strudel was done – gorgeous and golden brown, all crispy and flaky.
That little split in the seam? Yeah, it split a little more. And then a lot more. And so about half or more of the strudel looks more like a rustic tart than a strudel.
But know what?
Rustic tarts = yummy, too.
And bet of all, the apples didn’t dry out.
And the really darkened bits at the bottom of the pan? Super yummy.
I took the kids with me to get some ice cream to go along with the strudel. In my mind, something along the lines of vanilla sounded about right.
The kids, however, decided that chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream was a better plan.
I bought both.
And it was night time, so no ice cream with strudel pictures. Sorry. But you’d only drool on your keyboard anyway, so I’m doing you a favor.
The next morning I was able to take some decent pictures (sans ice cream, sorry)…and let me tell you, it tasted very, very good.
I was reminded – again – how much I love things made with crispy layers of phyllo.
And then I had another thought.
I’ve never made baklava.
And I think I really need to.
I’ll keep you posted.
Oh, and while I was taking these pictures, I got interrupted.
Honestly, she thinks she owns the place.
Here’s the recipe:
2 lbs apples (Granny Smith would work great. I used McIntosh because I’m a rebel, but they worked great, too.)
heaping 1/2 cup golden raisins
heaping 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (pecans would be great, too, or almonds. Or pretty much any kind of nut. Except peanuts. I don’t think they’d be great.)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
about 3/4-1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 lb phyllo (the boxes in the freezer section are usually 1 lb divided into two sealed packages, so you need one of those packages)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
What to do:
1. Butter a jelly roll pan or other large cookie sheet with a lip. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Combine the apples, raisins, nuts, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and about half of the bread crumbs. Mix well and set aside.
3. Cut a couple of large sheets of either parchment or wax paper and overlap to make a large (bigger than 18”) square. Lay that on the counter.
4. Working quickly, place sheets of phyllo on the wax or parchment to form an 18” square, brushing each sheet of dough with some of the melted butter and sprinkling with bread crumbs as you go. Keep the unused phyllo sheets covered while you work so they don’t dry out. (I just kept them wrapped in their little plastic wrapper – that worked fine.)
5. Once you’ve got your square made, pour the apples onto the lower middle (nearest you) of the square. Spread them about 12” wide and 4-6” deep.
6. Fold the sides over onto the apples – about 3” of dough on each side, and brush the folded over parts (which used to be the underside of your phyllo square) with more melted butter.
7. Starting with the edge closest to you, roll the whole thing up – gently and carefully – and place the strudel on your buttered pan, seam side down. If the dough splits somewhere, just leave it alone. If it breaks open more in the oven, it will still taste great. (Looks aren’t everything, remember. It’s what’s inside that counts.)
8. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown and crispy on the outside.
9. Allow to cool at least half an hour before slicing.
10. Serve as-is or with ice cream. Vanilla or chocolate peanut butter cup.
Or whatever flavor you prefer.