• STEP 1

    Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Heat 75g of the sugar and the vanilla seeds in a medium, heavy-based frying pan over a medium-low heat for 5-8 mins, or until golden brown and caramelised. Add the apples, currants, sultanas, allspice, nutmeg and walnuts, then cook for 10 mins or until the apple is tender. Remove the apple mix from the pan with a slotted spoon and cool to room temperature.

  • STEP 2

    Line two baking trays with baking paper. Place a sheet of filo on one of the trays, then brush lightly with the melted butter. Sprinkle over 1 tsp sugar. Repeat the process until there are 3 layers of filo. Repeat with the remaining sheets of filo on the second tray.

  • STEP 3

    Divide the apple mix along the shorter edge of both pastry sheets and gently roll into 2 logs, tucking in the ends as you go. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle over 1 tbsp sugar. Can be made up to one day ahead, kept chilled. Bake for 25 mins, or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp. Let cool slightly, then cut each strudel into 6 diagonal slices. Serve two slices each with a dollop of crème fraîche on the side.

What is apple strudel?

This Austrian dessert is made encases a spiced apple, raisin and walnut filling in layers of flaky pastry. Traditionally, the pliable pastry dough is stretched repeatedly and dropped from shoulder height until it’s thin enough to see through. For an easier dessert, you can substitute this for shop-bought filo pastry.

Where does apple strudel come from?

Apple strudel (or ‘apfelstrudel’) is a classic Austrian dessert, and the staple of many Viennese cafés. The pastry, though, is similar to those found in the Middle East – in fact, it’s likely this style of pastry was introduced or inspired by Levantine delicacies, such as baklava. Then, it was reinterpreted by the Austro-Hungarian empire into what we now know as strudel.

What pastry is apple strudel made from?

Traditionally the dessert is made using soft ‘strudel dough’, which is hand-stretched into paper-thin sheets. But for our version, we’ve made things simpler by using shop-bought filo pastry, as it’s most similar in consistency. Puff pastry will also work if you prefer a richer dessert.

What type of apples are best to use?

It’s important to use dessert apples, as these hold their shape best when baked. Cooking apples can be used, but the inside will become more of a fluffy sauce once baked.

This recipe uses Granny Smiths, but you could also make it with Golden Delicious, Russet, Honeycrisp or Fuji.

Tips for making the best apple strudel

  • As filo pastry dries out quickly, it’s essential to melt the butter before laying out the sheets. Work quickly when brushing each layer of pastry, too.
  • If needed, cover the filo with a slightly damp, clean tea towel to keep it from drying out. If it gets too dry, it can crack.
  • Make sure to leave a small border at the edge of the pastry when spooning over the apple filling, or the filling may squeeze out when you fold the strudel up.
  • To avoid making the dough soggy, use a slotted spoon to transfer the apple filling onto it.
  • Some recipes use stale fine breadcrumbs to soak up the buttery juices. While we haven’t done this here, you can add these if you like.
  • Brushing the filo sheets liberally with melted butter will allow them to crisp up in the oven, so be generous. If you find you don’t have enough to cover the pastry completely, simply melt a bit more.
  • For an extra boozy flavour hit, you can soak the raisins in a 1-2 tbsp rum or brandy for 30 mins before discarding the leftover alcohol and adding the fruit to the filling mixture.

Can apple strudel be made ahead?

You can make the strudel up to a day ahead. Brush it with butter to stop the pastry from drying out, then wrap well and keep chilled.

It can also be frozen before baking. Simply wrap well in baking parchment and cling film, then place on a tray and freeze until firm. (You can then remove the tray if you need space.) Freeze for up to six months, then bake from frozen at the temperature stated above for 35-40 mins.

What to serve with apple strudel?

Serve warm sprinkled with icing sugar and topped with a dollop of crème fraîche, whipped cream orvanilla ice cream. Strudel also goes well with homemade custard.

What else can I make?

Try pear, chocolate and marzipan strudel or this festive Christmas pudding strudel. You can also use the same principle to make savoury strudels, such as this pumpkin & pecan strudel.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, October 2008

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