This is one of those super easy recipes to make, but could take a bit more time using fresh apples. You can most certainly "cheat" by using purchased filling. I chose to soak some dried cranberries in rum, but dried cherries or raisins would be fabulous as well! (Or, you can delete the rum step, and just add the dried fruit to the apple mixture.)
Phyllo can be a bit challenging to work with- as it is rather fussy! Because the sheets are so incredibly thin, they can stick together, and it's highly important that you keep damp towels covering the entire surface of the dough- as it dries out very quickly! It's also important to make sure your phyllo dough is thawed! (Take the box out of the freezer the day before you plan to use it, and place in the refrigerator. Do not leave on counter to thaw!)
I actually don't even use a recipe for making this. However, for those of you who have never made anything like this before, I have tried to put amounts in this recipe below. Just understand that this is more of a "free form" pastry- one where you have room to play and add or subtract things as you wish!
Be patient, and if your dough shreds or rips, you can still add it to the layers, (just use a good sheet of dough for the base), and just do the best you can to patch it into place. The end result is so simple, yet delicious! You can see from the pic above all of those beautiful sweet and flaky layers of dough- wrapped around a delicious cinnamon spiced apple and cranberry filling. So heavenly with a hot cup of tea or coffee for breakfast or dessert! You can also make these up ahead of time for holiday company, and freeze them, until you're ready to bake and serve.
Yield: 2-3 Strudels
Total Prep-time: 45min.
1 box of Phyllo dough (thawed) ***Can be found in your freezer section
6 T. melted butter
Bread crumbs or almond meal
****2-3 Cans of Apple pie filling or
8 medium sized apples (peeled, cored, and sliced) **Fuji, Granny Smith, Mcintosh, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, etc.
4 T. unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 T. ground cinnamon
***optional: juice & zest of 1 lemon or orange
1/2 cup of dried cranberries, cherries, or raisins
1) If you are making your own filling:
**In a small bowl or dish, add the dried fruit, and just enough rum to cover the top of the fruit. Allow to set for an hour or two, or if you're in a hurry, microwave for about 1 min.
In a large saute pan, melt the butter on medium heat, and add the sliced apples, cinnamon, sugar, and dried fruit soaked in rum. Cook for about 15-20min, or until just tender. (Note: You don't want your apples to be overcooked/ mushy, but still a bit firm.) Allow to cool. (Can do this step the night/day before.)
Preheat oven to 350F
2) Remove the phyllo dough from the box, lay out on a flat surface, and cover with a damp towel.
Carefully lay out 1 full sheet of phyllo dough, (fold over in half), and using a pastry brush, gently brush the melted butter across the entire surface of dough. Lightly sprinkle over some almond meal. Repeat the process until you have 6-8 total layers of dough.
Spoon half of the apple mixture, (1 can if using pie filling), lengthwise over first 1/3 of dough. Make sure to leave about 1-2 inches from the edge- on ends as well. First fold in the ends on both sides, then wrap the dough, and roll it until the seam is on the bottom. Make sure there is enough butter to seal the seams. Brush melted butter all over the entire exterior of strudel. Place the strudel seam-side down on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Repeat the process for making 1-2 more strudels.
3) Before baking, take a sharp knife, and make a few diagonal slits in the top of each strudel. Then, sprinkle some granulated sugar over the entire top. Bake at 375F for about 30 min., or until strudels are a nice golden brown color. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool.
Slice, and serve! ****This pastry is best enjoyed immediately. Refrigeration will make it soggy, so wrap tightly, or place leftover in an airtight container, and store in a cool and dry place for 3-5 days.