Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Most Cumbersome Apple Strudel

The other weekend the beau and I ventured north through the beautiful rolling mountains of New York state (and the not so beautiful factories of New Jersey) to his parents' house in Connecticut. Aside from my car basically dying by the time we arrived to our destination it was a fantastic little trip to New England. Part of the whole point of our trip was to go to a little orchard and grab some apples and pumpkins. Unfortunately, because of the state of my car and its inability to make the journey back to Philly we had to forgo the pumpkin getting but still managed to procure a nice $20 bag of mixed up apples straight off the tree. I don't really eat food that hasn't been cooked yet so of course my go to for this overflowing bag of pommes was of course an array of desserts. Upon looking through my various cook books I decided on an apple strudel that seemed very simple and incredibly easy to turn into a vegan snack. Before I waffle on any further, I'll post MY version of this recipe and then rant about what a torturous affair it was.

4 medium apples, peeled and sliced thin (appx. 1 lb or 4 cups)
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. raisins
1/2 c. slivered, blanched almonds
zest and juice from 1 lemon (about 1t zest and 1 1/2 T juice)
18 sheets phyllo dough, room temperature
1/2 c. melted butter*
Powdered sugar and cinnamon for dusting

Preheat oven to 375° and prepare baking pan with parchment paper or silicon mat. In a large bowl combine apples, sugar, raisins, and lemon.
Unroll dough onto a piece of parchment or kitchen towel and cover to keep the dough from drying out. On a separate piece of parchment or on your silicon mat, lay out one sheet of dough and brush with butter. Layer dough until it is six sheets deep. Pile approximately 1 1/2 cups apple mixture into center of dough leaving a 2 inch border along the entire perimeter of the dough. Fold in one long side then both short sides then roll (it's more like a really awkward fold than a roll, but you'll get the idea) until the seam is on the bottom. If the dough comes apart anywhere just finagle it back together. Repeat this for the remaining dough and filling, you should have 3 whole strudel when finished. Place them on your pan (or pans if they don't all fit on one) and put in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. Let the strudel rest for about 5 minutes before cutting it. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Alright, now for the rant. This fucking recipe was one of the most poorly written and hard to follow instruction that I've ever dealt with. It came from a Williams-Sonoma book on baking that I got a couple years ago from the parents of a dude I was dating. It's an alright book, nothing that amazing and if I remember correctly, there's other recipes that have given me trouble in it. This is why I love the internet so much. I can go on numerous recipe sites and find out if other people ran into problems and if it's even worth doing. You don't get that from a recipe book. But, I'm a trusting lady and I thought, "Hey, if it is published and put out by a place with such a reputable name, surely it will work." Hell no! The original recipe calls for 6 large apples with no guide as to weight or measure once sliced. As I sliced my own apples once I got to apple #4 I realized my very large bowl was nearly full. I'd never worked with Phyllo before and I figured that maybe this would make sense once I got it out of the package. Much to my surprise I found some paper thin pieces of dough that measured about the size of a standard letter. Surely not big enough to contain 7 cups of sliced apples. Pissed. Whatever, I made that work to a certain degree, I still had apple mixture left over and wound up using my remaining phyllo in some tiny brioche pans with a little apple mixture. In the end, this tasted amazing and was completely unnecessarily difficult.

For the second part of my rant, let me talk about vegan caramel sauce. When I saw the apple strudel recipe I thought it'd be great with some caramel sauce, a bit of a take on the old caramel apple (which is a forbidden fruit to my animal friendly boy). I searched for something online and ran into something from the post punk kitchen, a bit of a trusty vegan recipe site. The recipe was originally posted on some vegan ice cream blog and seemed to have some pretty good reviews so I went for it. I made it the day before however and when I removed it from the fridge it looked a lot more like buttery wet sugar than caramel sauce. When I reheated it over the stove it turned into a very tasty cement. I tried using it with the strudel and it tasted pretty good but the texture was atrocious. I think I'll try a few more experiments with caramel sauce a la vegan because that's just a damn shame.

1 comment:

  1. I hear ya, sisterfriend. Most of those brand-name cookbooks are poorly tested and exist mostly to propagate the sense of prestige (or convenience) associated with the brand (see also the quintessentially 50's Betty Crocker cookbook, or its contemporary counterpart, The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook). My advice: feed your cookbook to the yuppies.