Apple Strudel

Farmers’ markets smell like apples. It’s impossible not to buy some when you are there. What’s more difficult is to resist the temptation of buying more apples than you actually need – happens to me all the time…

The strudel is one of my favorite ways to utilize these fruits. I stuff the strudel generously with finely chopped (never grated and squeezed) apples, kirsch-soaked raisins, crushed gingersnaps, and sugar. Some chopped toasted pecans or walnuts would be a nice addition to the filling if you are lucky and none of your family members suffer from nut allergies. I never leave all the filling juices behind, but spoon them over the apples. I like my filling succulent and caramelly, soft but yet with some texture present in the apples and not dry and gummy with barely recognizable ingredients. The sauce itself is also quite memorable. If you want you can make a sour cream sauce as well (for color contrast) and plate the strudel. But we ended up by pouring more cranberry sauce over the slices, anyway; the tiny pretty dots were not enough.

The recipe is adapted from the “Bon Appétit”.

Cranberry Sauce

Serves 8

For the cranberry sauce

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (do not defrost)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tbsp kirsch

For the sour cream sauce (optional):

Just a little bit of sour cream diluted with some whipping cream until the same consistency with the cranberry sauce (it’s important that both sauces would be the same consistency) You can sweeten it slightly by adding a bit of sifted icing sugar to the mixture.

For the strudel:

  • 1/3 cup dark raisins
  • 1 ½ tbsp kirsch
  • 4 large firm apples (I like the combination of Gala and Cameo), peeled, cored, cut into 1/3-inch pieces
  • ½ cup + about ¼ cup more gingersnap cookie crumbs, divided
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 9 sheets phyllo pastry, thawed
  • About 1 tbsp Demerara sugar for sprinkling

Make the cranberry sauce:

Combine the cranberries, sugar, water and kirsch in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the most of the berries burst, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer to the food processor and puree. The sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. It makes 2 cups.

Make the strudel:

Plump the raisins a night before. Put them in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the simmer over med/high heat. Drain, transfer to a small bowl. Add the kirsch, cover, set aside.

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 375F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Put the lined baking sheet into another sheet to protect the bottom of the strudel from overbrowning.

In a bowl, combine the apples, ½ cup crumbs, ½ cup + 2 tbsp sugar, and the raisin mixture. Set aside.

Cover a working surface with a large sheet of parchment paper. Place 1 sheet of phyllo on the parchment paper, with one long side parallel to the edge of the work surface. Brush the phyllo sheet with the melted butter, and sprinkle with a heaped teaspoon of crushed gingersnaps. Cover the rest of the phyllo with plastic wrap first and then with a damp dish towel (avoid direct contact of the phyllo with a wet towel to prevent the phyllo from getting soggy). Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets.

Place the apple filling in a 3-inch strip about 2 ½ inches from the bottom of the phyllo, leaving about 2 inches on either short side. Fold the short ends of the phyllo over the apples. Then fold the bottom long side over the filling and continue rolling up jelly roll like. Carefully transfer the strudel onto the prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Brush the top of the strudel with melted butter and sprinkle with Demerara sugar. With a sharp knife score the top of the strudel diagonally at equal intervals (it will help to cut the strudel neatly later). Cut four 1-inch vents down to the filling (make some score lines deeper) for steam to escape.

Bake the studel for about 40-45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on the baking sheet on a cooling rack until warm, about 30 minutes. Serve warm with the cranberry sauce.