Thursday, January 22, 2009

Phyllo Apple Strudels and not a great satisfaction

I believe that blogging shouldn't be only to show off you're successes but also to share your not so good baking experiences and discuss about them so you can improve... So here I am...

I had envisioned these amazing mini strudels, hand-pie style, made out of phyllo dough because I had some in my freezer and was fed up of seeing it sitting there. Although the apple filling was delicious, I was really pleased with the aspect of the strudels. The phyllo dough just ended up breaking all over the place and it was just hell to take them off of the baking sheet. But here I think it was my mistake, I think I let them sit too long on the sheet and the juices that came out of them had the time to solidy, gluing the strudels on the sheet. When I tried to take them off a few just totally fell apart, others left their bellies on the sheet... This is how you learn from your mistakes right? I am learning...

Taste wise, it was really really good! Especially dunked into the creme anglaise which is simply and absolutely delicious... it was like a grandma's apple pie and vanilla ice cream all in one!

I divided 6 huge sheets (placed one of top of the other) of phyllo dough into 12 squares to make mini individual portions, using the quantities shown below which are originally meant for one big strudel.

Apple Strudel
(yields big strudel for 8 servings)

4 apples, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp grated lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 sheets phyllo dough
1/2 cup butter, melted (approx)
1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs

Finely slice the apple quarters crosswise. Place them in a bowl and toss them with the sugar, the nuts, raisins, lemon juice and cinnamon; set aside for about 30 minutes to allow all the flavors to mingle togather.

Place 1 sheet of phyllo on a damp tea towel. Cover remaining phyllo with another damp cloth and brush the sheet with some of the butter; sprinkle with 1 tbsp of the bread crumbs.

Layer remaining phyllo, brushing each sheet with butter and sprinkling with remaining bread crumbs.

About 2 inches (5 cm) from one of the long edge of the phyllo, spoon the apple mixture lengthwise down the dough in a 3-inch (8 cm) wide strip, leaving a 2-inch (5 cm) border of pastry at each short end.

Starting at long edge nearest the filling, carefully begin to roll the phyllo over filling, rolling up the strudel jelly roll-style and folding in the edges as you roll.

Roll up firmly but allow a little slack for expansion while it bakes. Carefully place the strudel seam side down on a greased baking sheet and brush it with butter.

Cut 7 slits in the top and bake in 400°F (200°C) oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until crisp and golden. Transfer to rack or serving platter.

Creme anglaise (from Joy of Baking)
(yields about 2 cups)

2 cups light cream or half and half (12%-18% butterfat)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar
5 large egg yolks

In a stainless steel bowl stir with a wooden spoon, the sugar and yolks until well blended.

In a small saucepan heat the cream and vanilla bean (if using the extract, it will be added at the end) just to the boiling point. Remove from heat and whisk a few tablespoons of the cream into the yolk mixture. Then, gradually add the remaining cream, whisking constantly.

Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and, over medium heat, gently heat the mixture to just below the boiling point. You will notice that steam will begin to appear and the mixture will be slightly thicker than heavy cream. Do not boil or the eggs will curdle. Check to see if it is the right consistency by holding a wooden spoon sideways that is covered with the custard and run your finger along the back of the spoon. If the streak remains without the cream running down through the streak, it is ready.

Immediately remove from the heat and pour through a strainer, scraping up any thickened cream that settles on the bottom of the pan. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the sauce. Stir until seeds separate. For maximum flavor, return the pod to the sauce until serving time. *If you are using pure vanilla extract, instead of the vanilla bean, add it to the cream now.

The creme anglaise can be refrigerated covered with plastic wrap for a couple of days.

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