A while back I wrote a blog post saying how in the autumn lots of people round here put out bags of their surplus apples for anyone to pick up and take home. Not this year – home grown apples are in short supply, and I haven’t seen any buckets or bags of apples on offer.
There are a few cooking apples on our trees, but most of them are on the highest branches, well out of reach – although the high winds we have today may well sort out that problem. No eating apples though, not one. So I was really pleased when at the quiz night in the village last week I won a bag of apples in the raffle. A bag of apples means an excuse to try a recipe for strudel that Cathy posted a few weeks ago over at Words and Herbs.
I’ve never made strudel before, and wasn’t sure whether I would get the dough right – anything that needs rolling out really thin sounds like it’s going to be difficult. I needn’t have worried though – Cathy’s recipe made a lovely elastic dough that was easy to work with, and didn’t fall apart or stick to the work surface (the usual problems I have with thinly rolled pastry). There was no cream in the fridge so I wasn’t able to make the filling from Cathy’s recipe. Instead I pulled out a book by Pellegrino Artusi which dates back to the late 19th century. The book I have is a selection of his writing taken from The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well, an influential volume published in 1891. I’d read his recipe for strudel and thought it sounded interesting, mainly because in his introduction Artusi says –
“Do not be alarmed if this desert seems to you to be a strange concoction, or if it looks like some ugly creature such as a giant leech or a shapeless snake after you cook it; you will like the way it tastes.”
My strudel was definitely verging on the giant leech – but it did taste so much better than it looked.
For the dough – see Cathy’s recipe at Words and Herbs
For the filling –
1kg apples, peeled and thinly sliced
a couple of good squeezes of lemon juice
170g dark brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
a little melted butter
Make the dough according to Cathy’s recipe and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
When the dough is rested, preheat the oven to 190oC, 375F, gas 5. Mix the filling ingredients together until everything is evenly distributed.
Roll out each piece of dough as thinly as possible – about 3mm thick is good. Put one piece of rolled out dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Spread half the apple filling over the top, leaving a gap around the edges. Brush the edges of the dough with some melted butter, then carefully roll up to make a cylinder of dough and filling. Fill and roll the second piece of dough in the same way and brush some melted butter over the top of both rolls.
Bake in a preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until the top of the strudel is a nice golden brown.