Strudel is a type of pastry where a flaky dough is wrapped around a sweet or savory filling. A traditional strudel dough is made by carefully stretching a plain dough into paper-thin sheets and layering it together, which produces a very flaky crust. The process of pulling dough is a little too labor intensive for most people baking at home (myself included!), so other types of dough are often substituted to speed the process along. You can use layers of phyllo dough to create a flaky crust, but I often like to use puff pastry instead, since it has a rich, buttery flavor that makes the strudel that much more delicious.
This Apple Strudel is made using all butter puff pastry, and any storebought brand that you like will work for you. The puff pastry should be defrosted then rolled out until it is quite thin on a lightly floured surface before it is filled with a sweet mixture of apples, raisins, cinnamon and sugar. You can use all kinds of fruit in a strudel, but apple is definitely a classic filling and you can’t go wrong with apples, spice and flaky pastry in any dessert. And a strudel can be much quicker than an apple pie if you have some puff pastry in your freezer already.
When you are preparing your apples, it is important to cut them into relatively thin pieces so that they have a chance to cook all the way through while your strudel is in the oven. If your apple mixture looks exceptionally juicy before adding it to the pastry, you might also not want to transfer all that juice to the strudel to help keep the dough as crispy as possible. I added raisins in with my apples and think they add a nice sweetness. If you’re not a raisin fan, you can substitute dried cherries or cranberries, or you could omit the dried fruit entirely and add in some chopped, toasted walnuts for a little crunch.
The strudel is at its best the day it is made, when the pastry is crisp and the apples are still slightly warm, but it will keep for a few days after if you want to take your time enjoying the leftovers.
Puff Pastry Apple Strudel
1 sheet puff pastry (8-9 -oz), defrosted to room temperature
2 medium apples
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 cup raisins
milk, for topping
coarse sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 375F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry into a large, thin rectangle, approx 12×14-inches (exact dimensions will vary based on the size of your pastry sheet).
Peel and core apples. Cut into thin slices about 1/4-inch thick. Place in a large bowl. Add brown sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, allspice and raisins into the bowl with the apples and toss to coat.
Spoon apple mixture onto the bottom third of the pastry rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border near the bottom. Working carefully, pull the 1-inch border of pastry up around the apple mixture and continue rolling the pastry – jelly-roll style – until it is completely wrapped. Tuck the ends of the pastry down and press to seal.
Carefully transfer strudel to a parchment-lined baking sheet, placing it seam-side down. Cut several slits in the top of the strudel with a sharp knife. Brush the top of the strudel with a little bit of milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake for about 35 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the apples are tender.
Allow to cool before serving to allow the juices from the apples to thicken.