Monday, 25 July 2011

Filo Apple Strudels

Recipe Number Sixty Six:  Page 266.

Earlier in the week I had needed the zest of a lemon for a recipe. Is it sad that I spent ages searching through my Baking Bible to see if there was a recipe which would use up the juice?! It was hard to find something that only required the juice and not the zest. However, finally I struck gold with this recipe; it only needed half the lemon, but I could live with that! Another reason to make these strudels was that I already happened to have a packet of filo pastry in the freezer. I had planned to use it months ago but had never got round to it. This was the perfect opportunity to use it up and free some valuable space in my overstuffed freezer!

First of all I made up the simple filling. I needed a couple of cooking apples which I peeled and roughly cut into cubes. I stupidly peeled the apples right next to my Baking Bible, so this particular page is now smothered with apple juice stains. This book used to be pristine!! I took the half used lemon out of the fridge. I squeezed half of the lemon juice over the apples, which were already turning brown. I sprinkled over some Demerara sugar, breadcrumbs and a small quantity of sultanas. Last of all I added some cinnamon of which I am not a great lover; I was pleased it was only a teaspoonful! Once all of these ingredients were mixed together I could move on to sorting the filo pastry out.

I can't say I had been looking forward to using the filo pastry; it is not known for being easy to deal with. I have used it before on several occasions so I knew it was going to be a fiddly experience. Any little shred of confidence I may have had soon vanished when I read that for each strudel I was just to use one piece of filo pastry. With other recipes I have layered several pieces of pastry with butter. I would never have dreamed of using just one piece, especially when the filling is chunks of apple!! I brushed one piece of filo pastry with butter as instructed. I placed some of the apple mixture onto the pastry to cover the middle third. I then rolled it up and, of course, the pieces of apple broke through the extremely fragile pastry. I still placed it on the baking tray and carried on with the next piece of pastry. My next effort was even worse. At this point the air turned a deep shade of blue! Neil very wisely retreated to the living room!!! I had to throw one piece of pastry away as it had broken up so badly. Neil sheepishly called out that maybe I could use two pieces of pastry at a time. At first I wasn't sure but decided that really was my only option. So I layered the two pieces of pastry with butter. I was a bit over eager brushing on the butter as I soon heard a dripping sound; I looked down to see that butter was merrily dripping off the pastry onto the floor! I looked forward to cleaning it up later, if the cat didn't beat me to it! I put a lot more filling onto the pastry and made the strudel much bigger, I hoped this would make it less fragile. It seemed to do the trick and I managed to transfer it from worktop to baking tray without any breakages! I made one more strudel in the same way and then I called it quits!

They cooked in the oven for about 20 minutes and when I took them out, although some of the juice from the apples had leaked, it hadn't made the pastry soggy. That was a relief. I heated a small quantity of caster sugar with water in a pan and then brushed it over the strudels. The finishing touch was a dusting of icing sugar. The strudels were huge and the intention was to have half each but of course that never happened. We had one giant strudel each – what greedy little piggies! They did taste delicious; the filling was really good, all the flavours combined beautifully. There was just a hint of cinnamon and the apples were cooked perfectly, soft but not mushy. The filo pastry was nice with a rather pleasing crunch. I think one layer of filo pastry is just too thin to deal with. When doubled up it made things so much easier. If I make this again, I would either try it with puff pastry or make sure I had two packets of filo pastry in stock!
I can't do small portions!

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