Even though our normally very abundantly producing Apple Tree has had a smaller than normal crop, we still have enough Apples to more than meet our needs. Our needs are specifically baked goods to store in the freezer to be ready when an occasion arises, such as visiting family or friends or just the desire for baked goods loaded with Apples for a scrumptious breakfast. Our tree is a ‘Beverly Hills Apple’; one that was developed for the area we live in. No, not Beverly Hills but close enough to be within almost touching distance. (As the crow flies, that is)
The Apples produced by our tree are green with blushes of red stripes and are tart when picked early and much sweeter when allowed to remain on the tree until late August or early September. This year, there is no chance remaining on the tree to sweeten as they have decided to fall off before fully ripening. In order for us to have some Apples before the Rabbits get them all, I do have to pick them before they fall.
Already in the freezer is a batch of Apples, sugared with Cinnamon and thickener ready for our Thanksgiving Apple Pie. All I will have to do is to drain off the liquid (freezing makes the cell walls break down and cause them to liquefy) into a saucepan and cook it down to the desired thickness. This will prevent the pie crust from getting soggy. And of course, I will have to make the Pie Crust, roll it out and ease it into the pan. Add the Apples and top Crust, Bake and Voila there is the Apple Pie all ready to serve and eat.
Enough about Apple Pie. The last batch of Apples that I picked, we decided that Apple Strudel would be in order. If you are ambitious and want to spend several hours making your own Strudel Dough, that is fine, but if not, purchased Phyllo (sometimes spelled ‘filo’) works very well. If fresh Phyllo is available in your neighborhood (usually at a Middle Easter Market) that would definitely be superior. If not, frozen work well too. Just be sure and buy a good quality frozen dough and defrost it in your refrigerator overnight.
Phyllo Dough is very thin and fragile and requires careful handling. When your filling is ready and you are ready to wrap the fruit up in it do the following:
On your work surface or a large sheet pan, place a damp clean kitchen towel. On top of the damp towel, place a clean dry kitchen towel.
Carefully unwrap and unfold the Phyllo Dough and place on the dry towel.
Place another clean dry kitchen towel on top of the Dough and then place a clean, damp kitchen towel on top of the dry towel. (This procedure will help to keep the dough from drying out and tearing – if it does tear slightly, don’t worry. Just wrap another layer of dough around it)
To make your strudel, prepare the fruit. Apples are the common fruit for strudel but other types of fruit such as Apricots or Peaches may also be used. Since we do not use pesticides on our trees, our Apples usually have worms that are attracted to the fruit. If this is the case with your homegrown Apples, do not let that deter you. If the worms are there, the Apples are probably pretty good. Just be prepared to cut away the worms (probably dead) and any debris that may be inside.
Traditional Apple Strudel usually contains Walnuts and/or Raisins in addition to the Apples. While I do like Raisins but not Nuts, I usually do not put them in. Since we like the taste of the Apples so well, I usually also leave out the Raisins. Save them for something else! So, here is the procedure that I followed in making my Apple Strudel:
Select the Apples you are going to use and then wash and dry them. Even if you plan to peel them, I always wash them first, especially if they just came off the tree.
Next peel the Apples and then cut them into quarters. Remove the seeds and any blemish portions there may be (including worms), then rinse them again with cold water and dry them well withpaper towels.
After the Apples are peeled and quartered, slice each quarter into 3 to 4 pieces.
Sauté the Apples in melted Butter along with Sugar (I use Brown Sugar) and Cinnamon. Once the liquid has been released from the Apples, cover with a lid and cook for 10-15 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Our Apples contain very little moisture so it only took about 5 minutes to cook out most of the liquid. Even though I make Apple Pie with raw Apples, Apples Strudel should always be made with cooked Apples. The reason for this is that the Strudel Dough is very thin and fragile and soggy apples will just make the Strudel soggy.
Place the cooked Apples on a non-reactive tray and allow to cool. Melt your Butter (unsalted Butted – at least 1/4 lb) and place it next to your prepared Phyllo Dough. You will need a flat surface to place the Dough(a large pastry board is perfect).
Have all your ingredients and equipment close by, once you are ready to assemble your Strudel.
- Carefully place two sheets of Phyllo Dough on your work surface and gently brush with the melted Butter.
- Add two more sheets of Phyllo and brush again. (Notice that there are slight tears in the dough – these will be covered up when you wrap the Apples in the Dough.
- Spread the filling along the length of the dough about 3 inches from the edge; leave at least 3” at either end free. (DO NOT OVER-STUFF THE DOUGH – YOU WILL PROBABLY HAVE ENOUGH APPLES FOR AT LEAST TWO STRUDEL. IN THE RECIPE I USED, I MADE 4 MINI-STRUDEL AND 1 FULL-SIZE ONE)
- Fold the 3” piece over the filling and then fold the whole thing over until all the dough is completely wrapped around the filling. Butter the dough as you fold. Fold the corners of the edges in and under the strudel.
- Carefully transfer to a parchment covered baking sheet.
- Bake in the middle of a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the dough is baked through and crisp. It should be a dark golden brown.
Note: The complete recipe can be found under the recipe section of this blog /pies-pastry/apple-strudel/