I was looking for something festive. And, about to head to Prague to visit grandson, something with a European twist. Then I discovered that today’s feast is a favourite of close friend PM. And that his granddaughter, Miss Charlotte, made it for him at the age of six. So there’s no excuse for the rest of you. There are as many recipes for apfelstrudel as there are days in the year. I will, therefore, take the default position by giving you the version proposed by the outrageously talented and wonderfully charming Sarah Mellersh. She claims that this will serve 6 – 8. Fewer, I suspect, if PM and I are at the dinner table.
A word about the amount of sugar. Sarah’s original recipe specifies a mere 25g of sugar. Most other recipes stipulate 100g; however, most of them use either cooking apples or Granny Smith’s. She would also recommend serving with a maple syrup infused crème fraiche, which may not be to everyone’s taste. So in the end of the day it will depend on (a) the type of apple you use and (b) personal taste. Like Sarah, I don’t favour one which is too sweet. Unlike Sarah, I prefer to have the apple slightly chunky as opposed to neatly sliced. I also prefer a raisin free strudel, in which case you would definitely need some more sugar. Sarah’s recommendation is that once you have added the sugar and cinnamon, taste a bit, and adjust accordingly. Tasting your food as you go? You can tell she’s a pro.
675g firm eating apples (use a sweeter variety such as Braeburn or Jazz), peeled, cored and cut into small chunks; 25 – 50g caster sugar (see above); 2 tbsp flaked almonds, lightly toasted (optional); zest of ½ lemon, grated; 2 tbsp raisins (optional); ¼ tsp cinnamon; 50g melted butter; 6 sheets filo pastry; icing sugar for dusting.
In advance, toast the almonds. It is easiest to do this in a dry pan. Preheat the oven to 200˚C/Mark 6. Peel and core the apples and cut into slices or small chunks. Keep the sizes even. Mix together the apples, sugar, lemon zest, raisins if using, and cinnamon. Make sure the apples are well coated and check the sweetness. Carefully paint each of the filo sheets with butter and place on top of each other. Arrange the filling along the long side of the pastry stack. Brush the other edge with a little of the butter to help form a seal and roll up. Slide on to a greased baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and scatter the toasted almond over the top. Bake for 20 minutes and brush with more melted butter at the end. Allow to cool then dust with icing sugar. Serve with anything you fancy. Chantilly or plain whipped cream are good, or try Sarah’s recommendation of crème fraiche combined with good maple syrup.