“Entering the recommended cafe, Maisie took a seat. When the young waitress approached, she ordered a coffee with hot milk and some apple strudel. She was very hungry. Soon the waitress returned to the table, using the palm of her free hand to smooth out the white embroiled tablecloth.”
Click here for my review of Jacqueline Winspear’s Journey to Munich.
A traditional Austrian dessert, apple strudel was mentioned several times during Maisie’s travels in Munich. A proper and traditional strudel includes a special dough and method which sounded rather involved. Typically, I’m anxious to try a new method, no matter how difficult, but when I found that a potential shortcut was phyllo dough, I beelined it for the easy route.
I’ve never worked with it before and wanted to give phyllo a test run. It took a little practice, but as long as I was super gentle, I was able to avoid tears. As soon as removing it from the box, I layered the dough with damp paper towels to prevent it from drying out. There was a lot of back and forth with keeping the paper towels on the dough and layering the dessert, but the work is worth it! And easier than it sounds.
To keep the strudel crisp, I sprinkled each layer of phyllo with breadcrumbs. I also waited until the last minute to combine the apple mixture so that it wouldn’t be too syrup-y.
I made a few alterations to a traditional strudel recipe: nixed the raisins and substituted the walnuts with more subtle hazelnuts. You’ll find less sugar in this recipe than most others as well. Maisie always prefers lighter fare and I thought she would appreciate a balance between the sweet sugar and tart apples. If you prefer a sweeter dessert, put in a full half cup of brown sugar instead of the one quarter cup.
In hopes that this strudel will satisfy your sweet tooth while stimulating your sleuth gray cells, enjoy!
Hazelnut Apple Strudel
5 sheets of phyllo dough from a 16 ounce package
1/4 cup of melted butter
1/2 cup of plain bread crumbs (I recommend Panko) + 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 cup of hazelnuts, chopped
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of brown sugar
Lemon juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
1/8 teaspoon of salt
2 green apples, diced
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Mix together the hazelnuts, cinnamon, brown sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt. Do not cut up the apples yet.
- Follow the directions on the box of your phyllo dough, defrosting it and pulling it out of the package. Lay out the dough on a large counter space, lightly layering damp paper towels on top of the phyllo to prevent it from drying out.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper to the same size as your cookie sheet. Place the parchment paper on the counter in front of your phyllo dough.
- Place one layer of phyllo dough on the parchment paper. Gently brush the sheet of phyllo with melted butter then sprinkle with the seasoned breadcrumbs. Place the next sheet of dough on top of the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all 5 layers. Do not sprinkle the last layer with breadcrumbs.
- Dice the green apples and add the apples to the filling mixture.
- Spoon the mixture onto the first third of the phyllo, leaving a 2-inch border. Very gently roll the dough over the filling, rolling the stack away from you until the seam is on the bottom.
- Carefully transfer the parchment paper to the cookie sheet. Brush the top of the strudel with melted butter and sprinkle with white sugar.
- Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
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