I have a serious obsession with apples. I’d argue that as obsessions go, this is a healthy one, but my family who get dragged to at least one apple festival every fall and are regularly required to participate in apple-tasting sessions, might beg to differ. Anyway, I love apples and whittling down the list of varieties to plant in my garden was an excruciating process (read more about it here). But, in the end, the choices were made, the trees planted and this year I hope to get a first harvest from at least a few varieties.
Because I love cooking and baking with apples, too, some of the varieties I chose are specifically intended for my favourite apple dishes: Gravensteiner for the ultimate apple pie and Glockenapfel for strudel. As someone who was born and grew up in Central Europe, I have eaten my fair share of strudel and the homemade stuff always trumps anything you can buy. Even the strudel we bought at a Saturday market in a small Austrian town was disappointing.
While waiting for my first harvest, I decided to try an easy apple strudel recipe. Because even though I can make the traditional apple strudel which requires you to make your own dough and then roll/pull it into a super-thin layer, so thin you can ‘read a newspaper through it’, I hardly ever do it. It’s not exactly difficult, yet the idea is off-putting.
Which is why I experimented with store bought filo dough and found out that even though it’s not quite the same thing, it comes pretty darn close and you can throw it together much quicker. I hope my female ancestors will forgive me for parting with tradition – it’s better to compromise a little than live a life devoid of homemade apple strudel, isn’t it?
On apples: chances are you won’t be able to find Glockenapfel. Do try to use a fairly tart (baking) apple though – I think those are best for baking.
750 g (1,5 pounds) apples
100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
Zest of 1 (organic) lemon
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
75 g (1/2 cup) raisins
100 g (1 stick) butter
40 g (1/3 cup) dried bread crumbs
6 large sheets of filo (I used ‘Au Bleu d’Or’ which is 36 x 47 cm (14,5 x 19 inches))
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Peel, quarter and core the apples. Cut every quarter in thin slices. In a large bowl, combine the apple slices with sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, zest and raisins.
Melt 20 g butter in a skillet, add the bread crumbs and stir until they turn golden and smell nice. Let cool.
Melt the rest of the butter. Lay a clean tea towel on the counter top and put a sheet of filo on top. Brush it with the melted butter and add another sheet of the dough – repeat until you have used up all six sheets. Spread first the bread crumbs and then the apple filling evenly on top of the stacked filo, leaving a wide edge. With the help of the tea towel, roll the dough into a thick sausage. Seal the ends by folding them underneath and use the tea towel to transport the strudel to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush the top of the strudel with melted butter and bake until the top is golden and crisp, about 40 to 45 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar before serving or serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.