Thank you, summer. It’s been a blast, but we’re ready for that wonderful feeling when the leaves begin to change, temperatures drop, and the smell of woodsmoke and autumnal bliss fill the air.
As I contemplate the beginning of fall, I think of apple season, which means I have a burning desire to eat apple strudel. Which means I need to make one. Or maybe two. Are you with me?
Apple strudel, or apfelstrudel, is a tender, flakey pastry shell with an apple filling oozing with warm baking spices. It’s a traditional Viennese pastry popular in Austria and in many countries in Europe.
To make a truly authentic strudel, you would need to roll strudel dough so thin you can literally read the newspaper through it. But we’ve got stuff to do, so we’re taking a shortcut using frozen puff pastry.
Puff pastry is handy dandy stuff. If you’re not familiar, you find it in the frozen dessert section of the grocery store. Puff pastry is a buttery dough that puffs and bakes up perfectly flakey and golden brown.
The secret is to thaw the dough completely in the refrigerator before you use it and have the apple mixture cold or at room temperature before placing on the pastry. If the filling is warm, the pastry softens and becomes difficult to work with.
This recipe makes two — count them, TWO — apple strudels. You can easily halve the recipe and make only one, but why? I think we all know somebody who deserves a surprise strudel.
EASY APPLE STRUDEL
Total Time: 90 minutes
Yield: 6 servings each
1 (17.3 ounce) package of puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed in the fridge
6 apples, any variety
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins — golden, dark or a mix
1 cup chopped nuts — walnuts, almonds, or pecans
1 egg to make egg wash
1/2 cup demerara sugar for coating
Peel, core and slice about 4 cups apples total. Heat a large saute pan on medium heat. Melt the butter and add the apples. Cook the apples until they begin to soften. Add the cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, sugar, salt and raisins and combine. When the apples are softened but not falling apart (about 15 minutes), remove from heat and let cool completely. This can be done the night before and the apples refrigerated until ready for use. If you’re in a hurry, spread the apples on a baking sheet and place in the fridge.
To assemble the strudel: Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Lightly flour a second piece of parchment and roll one sheet of puff pastry into a rectangle approximately 16 inches by 12 inches.
With the short edge facing you, leaving a 2-inch border, place half of the cooled apples on the pastry. Top with half the chopped nuts. Using the parchment to assist, lift the edge of the pastry and carefully roll it like a jelly roll. Pinch the ends so the apples can’t escape and lay, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Mix the egg with a splash of water and brush the roll. Sprinkle all over with sugar. Cut several slits in the pastry to allow the steam to escape. Repeat with the second pastry. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
For a variation, try Pear and Cranberry Strudel. Substitute pears and dried cranberries for the apples and raisins in this recipe. Perfect for Thanksgiving!
Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at firstname.lastname@example.org
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