In Germany, it was a traditional harvest-time dessert and still is today during Munich's annual Oktoberfest. The thin pastry itself originated with the Turks. Strudel is best served the same day it is baked, and warming it for ten minutes in a 350-degrees F oven (never in a microwave) enhances it, especially if you serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 1/4 cups apple juice
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced ¼ inch thick (5 cups)
- 1/2 cup dark seedless raisins
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans
- 4 sheets phyllo dough
- 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) melted butter
- 3 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs (see Note)
- Confectioners' sugar, for garnish
- Vanilla ice cream, for garnish
In a small bowl, create a slurry by combining ¼ cup of the apple juice with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch; mix until smooth and set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the apples with the remaining apple juice, and the raisins, sugar, and cinnamon until the apples are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir the cornstarch slurry (it may be settled) and add to the apple mixture, stirring constantly until smooth and lump free. Simmer 1 more minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and cool. Stir in the pecans, cover, and chill.
Lay out one phyllo sheet on a clean, flat, lightly floured surface. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of dry bread crumbs. Repeat this procedure with two more layers of phyllo, butter, and crumbs. Top with the fourth sheet of phyllo. Spread the apple filling evenly onto phyllo surface, leaving a 1/2-inch clean edge on all sides. Roll into a log, folding edges at each end beneath the log, and brush with melted butter. Carefully place the strudel on the prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Bake the strudel for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before cutting into 2-inch slices and sprinkling with confectioners' sugar just before serving. Serve plain or with ice cream.
Note: We substitute dried bread cake crumbs for bread crumbs, using what is saved after leveling the tops of baked cakes before frosting.