Apple Strudel

This amazing recipe will make you enjoy the classic taste of Austrian-style apple strudel made easy with store-bought phyllo,apples and more.

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Have you ever watched the show “The Best Thing I Ever Made/Ate”?

Well I love to watch that show. Most of the stuff on there looks fairly complicated, but Duff Goldman was on the show and he said the best thing he ever made and ate is his family’s apple strudel. The reason this stood out to me is because I love apple strudels, and usually they’re fairly easy to make. So, seeing as I’m not one to back down from such a challenge, I decided to make this special apple strudel.

But before I did, I wanted to read the reviews and comments of people who have attempted this dessert and I was surprised what I read. Some people did not find this strudel sweet at all, others had difficulty handling the phyllo dough, and I have to admit, if you’re not used to working with phyllo dough it can be quite a challenge. Others loved it and others did not think it was the best strudel they ever ate.

So more than ever I was now convinced that I had to make this strudel, to see what the fuss was all about.

The first challenge was to peel a dozen apples. I say this is a challenge because I don’t have an apple peeler but I wished I did as I was peeling all those apples. Then you had to core them and slice them, but thankfully I do have an apple corer, and I do have a husband, whom I pleaded with to come and core my apples and slice them, and I will forever be in his debt.

And he did.

As you’re slicing the apples, make sure you sprinkle them with lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Now, Duff has a secret ingredient with this recipe, which he claims is what makes this apple strudel the best he ever ate, and that secret ingredient is canned pineapple! Yep! I have to admit I have never added or thought about adding canned pineapple to an apple strudel, but guess what? He is right. The pineapple did add an extra dimension to the flavors. You will need the canned pineapple slices, and then you have to cut the slices up yourself into thin pieces. But once all slicing is done, half of your hard work is also done.

To cook the apple mixture, you’ll need a large pot to which you add the apples, pineapple, sugar, water and salt and cook over medium to high heat. Now here is where I thought this was strange, is adding the cup of water, but I followed the recipe and I’m glad I did, because the mixture turned out excellent as far as consistency. You’re supposed to cook it for about 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. As I said before, some people found this mixture not sweet enough, however, I found it too sweet, so if I make this again, I will definitely cut the sugar amount in half. I think what happens is the pineapple adds a certain amount of sweetness as well. Let the apple mixture cool then add the nuts to it and mix. Once this is done you’re supposed to refrigerate the mixture over night. Not sure why that is, but that’s what I did.

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My apple mixture turned out great, maybe the apples could have been smaller, but it didn’t bother me at all. Now make sure your phyllo dough is not frozen, I left mine out overnight as well. Before we get started assembling the strudels we need to do a couple more things. First, Duff made a sugar/cinnamon/breadcrumb mixture which he sprinkles over each phyllo sheet, which I found interesting, though a great idea. I never would have thought about adding breadcrumbs, but anyway mix the breadcrumbs, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. You’ll also need two sticks of butter, which he said to clarify it, which basically means to melt the butter over low heat and as a white foam forms as the top layer, skim that off with a spoon. Well that was just too much trouble for me, so I just melted my butter in the microwave.

Whew! OK, now we’re ready to assemble the strudels. Oh, one more thing, preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. Get your work space ready, you’ll need a damp towel to cover the phyllo sheets, this is very important, so they don’t dry out, if they dry out, it will be very difficult to work with them and they will just crumble up. On your work surface lay a phyllo sheet and gently brush it with butter. Sprinkle with some breadcrumb mixture over the entire surface.

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You’re supposed to repeat this with 5 sheets. On the show Duff’s mom said they tried this with 4 sheets and it was not enough phyllo, and they tried it with 6 sheets and it was too much, so 5 was just right. However, I disagree. I tried it with 5, 4 and 3 sheets. What happens is as you roll it, obviously you end up with more phyllo, so the strudel with 5 sheets, I found that there was just too much phyllo for me, 4 sheets was better, and I haven’t tasted the 3 sheets roll yet. The other thing I’m not sure is how he rolled it, I rolled it lengthwise, so you will end up with more phyllo. Anyway you can try it with different sheets as I did, and stick to the one that you prefer.

So now we have 5 or 4 sheets of phyllo stacked on top of each other, swimming in butter and breadcrumb mixture. Using a spoon, add a row of the apple filling an inch or two from the bottom of the dough. Do not overstuff or the strudel will burst when baking.

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One thing I didn’t do, is used wax paper underneath the phyllo, which is supposed to help with the rolling, but in either case, roll it up jellyroll style and as you roll fold the sides inward to form sealed edges. This is where I found it difficult to fold the sides when I used 5 sheets, it was too much phyllo to fold, worked much better with 4 sheets.

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Place this roll on a buttered baking pan and brush the roll with butter. Repeat these steps with remaining phyllo and apples. For me this made 4 strudels, which I find is too much, next time I make this I will definitely cut the recipe in half and only make 2 strudels. I did freeze a couple strudels, so I’m curious to see if they are just as good once I thaw them out.

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Bake the strudels for about 40 to 45 minutes and you’re finally done.

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So after all that I ended up with 4 gorgeous strudels. Was it the best strudel I ever ate? I don’t know about that, but it was good and I did enjoy the walnuts in it, and the pineapple, I found that it made this strudel special. It was good, I also thought the breadcrumb mixture was a good idea. All in all it was worth it because I love a good apple strudel. You might want to try it, and let me know if it was the best strudel you ever ate.

Apple Strudel
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Yields 4 strudels
Author:
Ingredients
  • 10 to 12 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin strips
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 large can pineapple, drained and diced
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • pinch salt
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnut
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 pound package phyllo dough
  • Mixture of 1 large freshly ground cinnamon stick, ⅓ cup sugar and 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. As you peel and dice the apples, sprinkle with lemon juice and mix frequently to prevent browning, or toss in iced water with some lemon juice.
  2. Place the apples into a large pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the pineapple, sugar, 1 cup water and salt. Cook until the moisture evaporates and consistency of the remaining fruit is thicker than preserves, 30 to 35 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning on the bottom. Cool, then stir in walnuts.
  3. Refrigerate the apple filling at least overnight. Filling will last in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Melt the butter in the microwave.
  6. On a sheet of waxed paper, lay out the first layer of phyllo dough. (Dough dries out quickly, so keep other layers not in use covered with a damp cloth over a sheet of waxed paper.) Using a pastry brush, gently brush butter onto the entire sheet of dough. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture over the entire surface. Repeat for an additional 4 layers so each roll has a total of 5 layers of phyllo dough.
  7. Using a spoon, add a row of the apple filling an inch or two from the bottom of the dough. Do not overstuff or the strudel will burst when baking. Lift the bottom edge of the waxed paper with both hands, each about a third of the way in from the outer edges to support the phyllo as you roll up the dough, jellyroll style. As you roll, fold the sides inwards to form sealed edges as you continue to the end. End with the seam-side down.
  8. Coat a baking pan with butter and place the first rolled dough onto the pan with the seam facing down. Then brush the roll all over with the butter/oil mixture.
  9. Repeat the steps above until you have filled the cookie pan with the rolls but keep at least a roll's width between each. Keep at least 2 to 3 inches between the rolls on the baking sheet to ensure even browning.
  10. Bake until golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes, depending on your oven. During baking, baste 4 to 5 times with butter.
  11. Cut into pieces while still hot so the crust won't break.
Notes
Cook's Note: Unbaked rolls can be frozen. Just thaw and bake when ready. Baked strudel rolls can also be frozen but need some time in the oven to heat and to crisp them up. Again, cut while hot.

Adapted from foodnetwork.com

Update:

I have now thawed out the apple pie that I had frozen. I had it in the freezer for about 2 weeks now and I have to admit I’m quite impressed with how good it still is. It is still crispy, not as crispy as when you take it out of the oven, but it’s still crispy and delicious.

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Jo,

    Someone sent me to your blog entry about Duff’s great-grand mother’s (my grandmother) apple strudel. I am honored you decided to try it and write about your experience with it. Can you imagine when I was little, my “Mamo” would make her own dough – stretching by hand until you could almost see through it! She taught me how to do it as a rite of passage but I must say, when I found out phyllo could be purchased ready-made, I never looked back!

    As far as sweetness, I am not fond of sugary desserts. I like to taste the main ingredients. That is why I think making the filling to taste is essential to enjoyment. I have no idea where she ever got the idea for the canned pineapple but that was her best-kept secret which I had so much fun blabbing to the world on TV – she was a glory-hog and I love to share so yes, the pineapple secret has been spilled, so to speak and so far I have not been arrested for treason!

    I do have one comment about the photo you posted with your strudel rolled up before baking; it appears that you did not turn in the edges while rolling up, which might lead to leaking during baking. If the filling stayed inside, that is great, but I always lay the filling on, leaving about an inch on each side without so I can fold over the edges as I roll up. Yes the ends are more crunchy but those are my favorite parts!

    Also, during the filming, we mentioned that the adding of breadcrumbs is done to slightly keep the layers of phyllo apart so they crisp up separately. It’s amazing how just that little detail makes such a difference. When you bite into the strudel you can actually feel the layers bursting into separate little light individual pieces instead of clinging to each other (which can create a toughness). Mamo’s strudel is light, crispy and a treat for all the senses. I am so thrilled you’ve written about it – spreading the word about this special treat. She would be over the moon if she knew her recipe has finally been shared by those who truly appreciate it. Just picture her – a Russian immigrant straight out of the cast of Fiddler on the Roof!

    With Much Appreciation – Jackie

    • says

      Hi Jackie,
      I’m so thrilled and honored to have you comment on this and I thank you very much. To answer your question I had no problem with any leaking during the baking. The strudel looked gorgeous when I took it out of the oven and was perfect for slicing, as you can see in the pictures I think it’s looks amazing. Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful family recipe and secret with the rest of us. I’m a big fan of apple strudels so this was quite a treat.

  2. says

    We looooooooooooooooove apple-strudel, and yours looks amazingly delicious :)
    I don’t thing I’ve ever tasted one with pineapple in it and I really like the idea :)

  3. Elisa says

    This looks amazing! I’m wondering what number phyllo dough did you use? How did the frozen strudels turn out after you defrosted them?

    • says

      Hi Elisa,
      I didn’t even know there were numbers for the phyllo dough, so I looked on the box, and the only thing I found were dimensions, 18 sheets 33 cm by 43 cm, so no other number. I haven’t defrosted the apple strudels yet, they are still in the freezer, I will definitely let you know how they turn out, once I do, probably this weekend.
      Thanks.

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