Today is Apple Strudel Day.
Really, there is such a thing.
But it’s hard to find good apple strudel, even in the best bakeries. The crust, which is paper thin, is supposed to be crisp and flaky but most of the time it’s soggy and tastes like wet cardboard.
I remember my grandmother making her own strudel dough. Like a big miracle the little lump of dough became this enormous sheet as she stretched it with her grandma arms until it was paper thin and the size of the kitchen table. Then she put the seasoned apples on top. Her strudel wasn’t too sweet like the cloying kinds you get today. And she never used chopped nuts because she said they got soggy. (They do, so I add ground nuts along with the usual bread crumbs to hold the fruit together and for extra flavor.)
I made strudel dough once. I didn’t have grandma arms then (they come with age, even in an age when grandmas work out three times a week like I do), so I didn’t manage the dough very well. It stretched all right, but some parts were thicker and lumpier than others and there were several holes in the dough. It tasted okay, barely.
It’s also difficult to find authentic strudel dough.
However, you can make good homemade strudel using phyllo dough. It’s not exactly the same as strudel pastry, but it’s good enough.
Some people find phyllo dough intimidating. But if you thaw it at room temperature you’ll see that the dough sheets separate easily and won’t tear. And be sure to keep the ones you’re not using covered.
Here’s a recipe for Homemade Apple Strudel.
4 baking type apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3/4 cup golden raisins
6 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon peel
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
8 phyllo dough sheets
10-12 tablespoons melted butter
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, place the apple slices, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, lemon peel, almonds and 3 tablespoons of the bread crumbs. Toss together and set aside. Place one sheet of phyllo dough o a work surface and brush lightly with melted butter. Repeat with 3 more sheets. Using half the apple mixture, place the fruit on one of the long sides of the dough, placing the mixture to within 1-1/2 inches of the bottom and top edges. Roll the dough, jelly roll style around the apple mixture and place the roll, seam side down, on a cookie sheet. Tuck in the ends. Repeat with the remaining 4 sheets of dough and apple mixture. Brush the top of each roll with any remaining melted butter and scatter the remaining 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Cut pieces with a serrated knife.
Makes 2 rolls, each serving about 4 people