On our drive back from Montreal last week, we stopped at an orchard outside of Cornwall. The only variety they had available for U-Pick was McIntosh, so that limited the baking applications somewhat. However, I found a recipe for strudel that called for this variety, and made it early one morning this week.
This Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe for strudel attempts to streamline and simplify the process of making strudel from scratch. It called for Granny Smith and McIntosh apples. The former holds up during baking, while the later softens and acts like a glue around the other ingredients. Since I was skipping the raisins, the first step of soaking them in Calvados was unnecessary.
I was generous with the apples, and didn’t stick exactly to the prescribed quantity of 10 ounces each. This turned out to be problematic as the rectangles of phyllo were too small to completely cover the filling. I did the best I could and slid the barely enclosed strudel onto the baking sheet. As it baked, the strudel leaked a bit of juice, but not excessively.
Fresh out of the oven, the pastry layers were crisp on the exterior, and soft on the underside. The filling seemed undercooked though: the Granny Smith slices were still firm, and their tart flavour wasn’t welcome. After a few days in the fridge, the strudel turned limp and soft, and couldn’t be rescued in a toaster oven. Phyllo, while easier to acquire and use, just isn’t a convincing substitute for strudel dough. Maybe I’ll just stick to buying strudel from a good Eastern European bakery.