Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cherry Strudel

Once a decade I buy a package of Phylo dough and remember why I loathe working with it, resolving never to do it again. Guess I'm good for another decade. Until the moment I made the actual strudel, I was still considering shoving it back in the freezer and just making the dough. It is quite a simple thing to do-as I did HERE. But no, I had the box in the freezer I'd bought for heaven knows what, and the two large bags of fresh cherries were staring me down demanding their stones be removed. Fine, I used the damn dough.

Such a bloody chore. It certainly wasn't any more convenient than just making my own, though it did free up the dining room table where I normally roll out strudel dough. In the end, it came together (amazing how much patching you can do with melted butter) but it does pain me that I didn't follow my gut and make my own pastry.

I couldn't find a suitable cherry strudel recipe anywhere. What I found were fillings with cheese, or chocolate(?) or all three, or large amounts of cornstarch. One even suggested drying out a few sheets of Phylo and crumbling it up in place of breadcrumbs. I wouldn't recommend that. I finally thought to look in Paula Peck's The Art Of Fine Baking, and there was a cherry strudel recipe pretty close to what I had in mind. I made a number of changes (like using Phylo dough) and you should feel free to adapt it as well this isn't an exacting type of recipe. I probably overfilled mine a bit, but the overflow wasn't disastrous. Remember to roll loosely and not to overstuff your strudel and it should be fine. Strudel is best served slightly warm.

You Will Need:

½ package Phylo dough, thawed (or use my pastry recipe HERE)

1 cup melted butter
2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs, sautéed lightly in butter
4 cups cherries, stones removed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ cup cinnamon sugar

On a flexible cutting board or a lightly floured sheet, layer five sheets of Phylo dough brushing each layer lightly with melted butter. Spread the surface with breadcrumbs (you may not need them all). Leaving about an inch at the edge, place the cherries in a line across at the bottom length of the dough. Carefully lift the edge of the board or the towel and flip the dough over itself. Butter top and continue until the strudel is rolled-up. Place on a buttered baking sheet seam side down. Brush top with butter and cut five or six slits in the top. Bake in a preheated 350-degree F. oven for about 40 minutes or until golden brown, basting at least twice in that time. Remove, let cool a few minutes on sheet then transfer carefully to a rack to cool. Dust with powdered sugar before serving still slightly warm.

Cherries kind of stain your hands. If you care about that sort of thing, wear gloves to remove the stones.

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