Grandma Grace is 94 years old and ready to let go of her body, ready to move on. Grandma Grace used Jello Pudding Mixes, and Betty Crocker cake mixes throughout her life, however she made all her pies from scratch, and her strudel. Grace is 100% Scottish and her mother in-law was from the Czech Republic. Her mother in-law Betty taught her what she knew about making Jablkovy Zavin, or Apple Strudel and other Czech pastries. Since my grandfather had such a sweet tooth, Grandma Grace had to keep up with her pastry making to keep her husbands sweet tooth satisfied. Thank you grandma for sharing these recipes and techniques with me.
I inherited several of Grace's recipe books, one in particular I like to use called Czechoslovak Pastries, from the 1952 Charlotte G. Masaryk Society in New York. In honor of Grandma Grace, I made 4 strudels last night. The recipe called for one strudel using a flour dough in the recipe. However, I used phyllo dough and ended up with 4 Apple Strudels.
Success.. and two of my strudels went to neighbors. Recipe is below, modified from Czechoslovak Pastries, 1952 . Great for a brunch as you will get plenty of slices out of these. Sometimes it feels much better to give away the baked goods than keep them to yourself.
Apple Strudel - Jablkovy Zavin
- 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs.... make your own... it will taste better - Fry the crumbs in 3 TBS. of butter... your choice of salted or unsalted butter. Fry up until nice and brown and you can smell them.
- Slice up 4-5 apples...I used Pink Ladies as they are so nice, tart (not too tart) and crisp - Slice your apples nice and thin or chop up into smaller pieces. If slices are too large they will make it harder to roll your strudel.
- Mix in to apples - 3/4 cup sugar, handful of raisins or 1/2 cup, 1/2 cup of sliced almonds and 12/ tsp. cinnamon. Set aside.
- Melt 1 stick of butter and bring to work area with pastry brush.
- Prepare your work area, you will use an entire package of phyllo dough. I use Athens Phyllo Dough or you can also use and organic version found at Whole Foods or your local coop. Start with 2-3 sheets of dough at a time. Brush with butter and then layer some more. Keep layering until you have 12 sheets or so. That is enough for 1 strudel. Do the same for the other 3. The more individually layer with butter.. the flakier it will be.
- Sprinkle the fried bread crumbs over each of the strudel before you layer the apples.
- Layer about 1 cup of filling lengthwise along on end of the dough. Start rolling away from you while tucking ends in. Keep rolling as if it was a jellyroll. Gently lay strudels onto large rimmed baking sheet - lay them across the width of the baking sheet. There will be room for 4.
- Score the tops of the strudels. Put in hot 400 degree oven for 20 minutes and then turn down oven to 350. Keep in over for another 25 minutes. Watch them... keep that oven light on as you do not want to burn it.
- Pull out.... eat warm... serve in thin slices with warm cream or good vanilla custard or ice cream.