It's a great time for strudel, especially when made with top-of-the-season apples or pears. What could be better than intensely flavored apples and plump golden raisins tucked inside a tunnel of flaky crisp sweetened pastry? Maybe strudel served warm with a dollop of cinnamon-infused whipped cream. Served for brunch, lunch or as a special dessert, freshly baked apple strudel is a great way to celebrate autumn.
Strudel is easy to make using sheets of phyllo pastry and a couple of apples. You can assemble it in about the time it takes to heat the oven.
Preparing the apples and cooking them into a simple filling takes an additional 10 minutes, and baking also takes 10 minutes. So, in 30 minutes, you can have homemade strudel worthy of any pastry shop.
Traditionally, strudels often include breadcrumbs in the filling, but I decided it would be better to forget the breadcrumbs in favor of ground almonds.
I used almond meal or flour, which consists of blanched whole almonds ground into meal. The texture is similar to that of cornmeal but more moist. The blanched almonds have the outer skin removed so that the resulting meal is the color of rich cream. I loved the effect of working the almond meal into my strudel.
The best decision I made was to combine the almond meal with a bit of sugar and incorporate it between the phyllo layers along with the butter. This resulted in a sweet airy crunch that was hard to resist.
You can make your own almond meal by leaving the skin on the almonds and grinding them in a food processor. The ground skin won't make much difference in strudel, but in other recipes, it might be preferable to have the ground almond meal without the skin. I keep mine in the freezer to maintain its freshness.
I hope you will enjoy making an apple or pear strudel while these fruits are so beautiful and in season. I purposely leave the cinnamon out of the filling so that the pure taste of the fruit is beautifully accented when topped with cinnamon whipped cream.
This is a great way to showcase the best of autumn. Strudel can be made with apples, pears or a combination. One strudel will make 4 to 6 servings. Partially cooking the fruit and using phyllo dough makes this dessert fast and easy. You can assemble the strudel a day ahead and bake later to facilitate serving warm. Strudel makes a timely holiday brunch treat.
Sherrel's Easy Autumn Strudel
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup apple juice
2 apples (Granny Smith), peeled, quartered, cored and sliced