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Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009 06:09 pm

Apple strudel

Fresh-from-the-oven, warm apple strudel is one of fall’s greatest pleasures. Phyllo dough is fun and forgiving; a gift to anyone with pastry phobia. Keep it covered until you use it, don’t worry about minor tears, and don’t hesitate to throw out any leaves that crumble or are badly torn (there’s more than you’ll need in the package) and it’ll be fine.

  • 1/2 c. golden raisins
  • 2 T. applejack or other apple brandy, or cider
  • 10 T. unsalted butter, plus additional if needed
  • 1/3 c. fresh breadcrumbs from homemade-type white bread
  • 2 lb. seasonal Golden Delicious apples, or other sweet yet flavorful apples suitable for cooking, such as Golden Blushing
  • 1 T. cider vinegar
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped toasted walnuts
  • 7 full size phyllo leaves or 14 half size*, defrosted, plus additional if needed
  • Turbinado sugar, also called coarse sugar or sugar in the raw for sprinkling
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
  • Accompaniment: vanilla ice cream or cinnamon sour cream, optional, see below

Combine the raisins and applejack or cider in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high heat for 1 minute. Let stand until the raisins have absorbed the liquid and have cooled.

Melt 2 T. of the butter in a skillet; add the breadcrumbs over medium heat and stir until the breadcrumbs are crisp and golden, 2 –3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/8-inch thick. Put the apples in a large bowl and toss with the vinegar. Add the raisins, breadcrumbs, sugar, walnuts and cinnamon and mix.

Preheat the oven to 475. Melt the remaining butter.

Unfold the phyllo leaves and cover with a barely damp towel, sheet of parchment paper, or plastic wrap so that the phyllo does not dry out. Place one phyllo leaf on a sheet of parchment paper with the widest side closest to you. Very lightly brush the phyllo with butter and lightly sprinkle with a couple teaspoons of the turbinado sugar. Place another phyllo leaf on top of the first and repeat. Continue until you’ve used 6 sheets of phyllo. It’s OK if there are some tears in the phyllo, but if they’re major, just discard the sheet and use another. Place the seventh phyllo leaf on top.

Place the filling in a three-inch-wide strip toward the bottom, leaving a two-inch border on the bottom and sides. Fold the sides over and then carefully bring up the bottom. Roll in a loose cylinder (rolling too tightly can cause it to burst while baking). Carefully place the strudel seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the top lightly with butter and sprinkle with a little more coarse sugar. Cut 3 or 4 slits in the top and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the strudel is golden brown. Cool on a rack until warm, 30-40 minutes. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, cut into slices and serve warm, with a scoop of ice cream or dollop of cinnamon sour cream if desired.

For Cinnamon Sour Cream: Stir 1/2 - 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and 2 T. sugar into 1 c. sour cream

Serves 6 – 10

*If using phyllo half sheets, simply divide the apple mixture in half and make two smaller strudels, following the above instructions.

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