Thursday, September 30, 2010
Ever since I was a kid, I have made regular visits, often annual visits to Hurd Orchards, wonderful pick your own orchard in Holley, New York, just near my Mom's house in Rochester. I have picked everything from peaches to apples to strawberries at Hurd Orchards over the years and it truly is one of my favorite family-owned Orchards. Plus, you can't beat the famous Western New York apples. Last year when we went apple picking, I posted a recipe for my apple pie that I made with the Hurd Orchard apples. One of my favorite parts of a visit to Hurd Orchards is their store - they carry their own extensive line of in-house made jellies, jams and marmalades that are the best jams I have ever had, as well as wonderful other products from caramel to soap to cheese from small, family owned businesses.
This year, I went apple picking with my Mom last weekend, once again. This time, I made a delicious apple strudel with some of the apples, inspired by the great apple strudels that my husband and I had on our trip to Prague in August.
Sasha's Apple Strudel (loosely based on Paula Deen's Apple strudel)
1/4 cup amaretto (I used my homemade amaretto liquor)
1/2 cup dates, pitted and diced
4 medium apples (I used a combination of Gala and an experimental variety that tastes similar to Honeycrisp)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup crushed shortbread cookies
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 T unsalted butter, softened in the microwave
6 sheets of phyllo dough
2 T unsalted butter, melted, for brushing phyllo sheets
1 T granulated sugar
1 cup confectioner's sugar (for the glaze)
3 T of milk (for the glaze)
Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. To make the filling, first soak the dates in the amaretto (microwave on high for 40 seconds) for about 10 minutes. I used my homemade amaretto. Then combine the dates with the apples (peeled and diced), lemon juice, cinnamon, brown sugar, cookie crumbs, pecans and 2 T of butter in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Remove the phyllo dough from the box and lay out 6 sheets. Brush the butter between the sheets (which is a bit tricky to do without ripping the sheets). Stack the six sheets using this technique. You could obviously make another apple strudel recipe where you make your own dough but I do not recommend this. Phyllo is the best for achieving the thin and crisp way that apple strudel is supposed to look and taste to be an authentic dish.
The next step in the process reminded me of rolling sushi. Basically, treat the phyllo sheets like your sushi nori and place the apple mixture on the nearest third of the phyllo stack, spread over that region of the phyllo. Be sure to leave a two inch border, at least. Gently lift the bottom edge of the phyllo stack to cover the filling and roll over - to roll into a strudel. Continue to roll the stack away until the filling is completely sealed in and the seam is on the bottom. Brush with the remaining melted butter and top with granulated sugar.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Glaze with the mixture of confectioner's sugar and milk. Slice into rounds as you are ready to eat, using a bread knife. You can top with caramel sauce, which I forgot to do - it really isn't needed. The result was sweet and delicious. The jams from Hurd Orchards that I brought home with me are pictured below.