mum's simple apple strudel

This one is all the evidence you need to prove a beautiful dessert doesn’t have to be time consuming, expensive or difficult. Pop it in the oven when you sit down to dinner - then enjoy a fragrant classic dessert 30 minutes later. 

My Mum uses a 400 gram tin of Pie Fruit Sliced Apples. I shouldn’t mess with her lovely recipe but I do prefer using freshly grated apple instead of tinned. This way you get to choose your own just picked variety at your local Farmers or Fruit Market. Today I’ve used Mutsu apples, just picked by Iventure Orchards in Cottonvale north of Stanthorpe. I bought them on Saturday morning at Palm Beach Farmers Markets.  I also like to add in some currants, citrus peel, glace cherries and extra spice. Sorry Mum! 

Ingredients - 2 large or 3 medium green apples (variety of your choice - Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Mutsu or similar), coarsely grated   OR 1 x 400 gram tin of Pie Fruit Sliced Apples (perhaps use the tinned variety when the best of your local fresh apples have finished) ❤ 60 grams sultanas ❤ 30 grams flaked almonds + a dozen extra flakes for decorating ❤ 60 grams currants (optional) ❤ 30 grams citrus peel, chopped finely (optional) ❤ 30 grams red glace cherries, chopped finely (optional)  ❤ ½ cup caster sugar + 1 tablespoon extra for sprinkling ❤ ¼ teaspoon each of cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg ❤ juice and zest of 1 lemon ❤ 6 sheets of Filo Pastry  ❤ 100 grams butter, melted for brushing

Method + Tips - Buy the freshest apples in season you can find

Take the Filo Pastry from the freezer and allow to defrost for at least 10 minutes. 

Preheat oven to moderately slow 170°C/150°C fan-forced (325°F) & line your baking tray with baking paper.

To make the Filling - Grate apples coarsely with skin on and put in a medium sized bowl.  Add sultanas, currants, almonds, citrus peel, cherries, sugar, spices, lemon rind and lemon juice. Stir all together to coat well.  Leave to sit for as long as you like, cover on the bench top with a tea towel.  If you like you can make this filling mix in the morning or day before even and pop it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.

When ready to assemble the strudel, strain the juice from the filling mix by pushing it with the back of a spoon through a colander. Retain the juice in a bowl underneath the colander so you can use it later if desired.

Remove Filo from its packaging.  Dampen a large clean tea towel and lie out flat on the bench, ready to place filo sheets on.  Take filo sheets, no need to separate them at this stage, and lie on ½ of the damp tea towel. Cover sheets over with the other ½ to prevent filo from drying out.  Melt butter on stovetop or microwave for 15 seconds.

Take first filo sheet and lay flat onto the baking paper on the prepared baking tray. Brush filo lightly with melted butter - especially around the edges.  Place a second layer of filo exactly on top of the first and brush lightly with butter again.  Continue this until you have 5 or 6 filo layers in a neat pile. 

Place filling in a long log along the length of the filo layers, leaving about 1cm from each end. Roll bottom layer over the log to cover and seal pastry edges with buttered pastry brush.  Your strudel will be approximately 4cm/9inch wide when finished.  Take top pastry layer and fold back on top of the bottom layer to close. (A bit like making a sausage roll) Turn in sides and brush all edges & top lightly to seal and help browning.

Sprinkle caster sugar along the top.  Arrange extra almonds on top in a flower-like pattern. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice-cream.  Drizzle reserved juice from the filling mixture over ice-cream or strudel or both.  Dust strudel with sifted icing sugar if desired. Devour with friends or family.

Note: This same filling can also be used to fill shortcrust pastry cases to make easy French Apple Tartlets.  Also can be added to your muffin mixture. Tip: Avoid using puff pastry for strudel, filo is far superior for this dish. Good quality deli bought puff pastry is best.

Seasonal Jotting

Apples are harvested in all Australian States, with Victoria being our biggest producer. Our Aussie growers are so proud and respectful of their land - a superb environment for production that is free from the world’s worst pests, diseases and pollution. They certainly risk the elements, up against frost, hail and most recently the worst drought seen in several generations.

The majority of our Australian apple varieties are maturing NOW in Autumn. However newer hybrid varieties mean we can still buy fresh apples over a much longer period of time. Some growers are also trialling crops of old variety heritage apples and pears, are embracing organic farming and committing to the process of becoming BFA certified.(Biological Farmers of Australia)

A few weeks ago I mentioned our trip to the Stanthorpe Apple and Grape Harvest Festival. Stanthorpe is Queensland’s top pear, apple and grape growing region and well worth the drive.  Some farms in the area also produce figs, raspberries, strawberries, plums, blackberries, zucchinis, beans, cherry tomatoes, egg tomatoes, rhubarb and cherries. 

End result - baking inspiration overload! What to make; Apple Tea Cake, rich Apple Tart, Apple Charlotte, German Apple Cake, Torta di Mela (Italian Apple Cake) , Tarte Tatin - all fabulous dishes with fresh Aussie apples. Not to mention classics such as Baked Apples and Apple Crumble.  

In my revered cooking bible “The Schauer Australian Cookery Book”  Amy Schauer gives us 57 apple recipes to choose from! Perhaps we should just start at the very beginning. The original apple is claimed to be “the crabapple”. Perhaps plonk ourselves under that most glorious of trees and let life go by.  At least until afternoon tea time.

Deep Pink Crabapple Tree Flower in Spring