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Lazy apple strudel

Posted in Food & Entertaining


“Will you make me apple strudel?”
With old age, my mother has acquired a sweet tooth she never had before. Even when I was a child, sweets were always my domain and, left up to her, would not often grace our table.
Sure I would make strudel: it’s been a Summer of berry crumbles and pies, meringues and whipped cream, her favorites, but apple strudel was a new request.

While my mother makes gnocchi, cursing American potatoes under her breath as they are apparently different from their Italian cousins, I take a sheet of puff pastry out of the freezer. In this heat, it won’t be long before it softens.

I bask in the privilege of cooking side by side with my mother: the kitchen used to be her kingdom but she relinquished some of her power to me; maybe the more apt image is a passing of the baton. When she first started spending time at my house over the Summer, dinners would be entirely of her own making. I would request my favorite dishes and she would always fill my freezer with  lasagna and meat sauce before returning to Italy. Slowly, I inserted myself in her cooking enterprise and this year, I noticed, she is the one rattling off requests (can you make that lemon chicken you made last year?) so, more often than not, dinners are of my own concoction, or we end up cooking side by side.

apple and pecans
I used pecans instead of walnuts

I am often unnerved by her criticism: Your vegetables are undercooked, she would protest.
And yours are mushy, I would retort, with the truth squarely in the center between statements. When I make cakes, she observes and asks questions and picks at bits and pieces, unable to keep her opinion to herself. It should be sweeter, gulping down whipped cream. No, it shouldn’t.

The tables are slowly turning, as they should and need, although I can’t say I am entirely comfortable. For now, I enjoy the experience of cooking together, fully aware it could be taken from me from one year to the next. And I oblige her every request, like she used to do with me.
Including apple strudel. Or lazy strudel because the dough used for real strudel is not puff pastry but a distant relative, more laborious than puff pastry from the store.

With Autumn around the corner and apples already filling the produce aisles of the market, this is an easy dessert, to continue in C&S’s quest to go against fashion and help you down more sugar. If you buy puff pastry, make sure it’s of the all-butter variety, which tastes considerably better. I like apples that are neither too sweet nor too astringent, Honey Crisp for example, and you want to slice really thin, rather than cube them – they will cook much more evenly. The rest is child’s play.


1 rectangular sheet of puff pastry, thawed

3 apples, peeled, cored and quartered

White and brown sugar to taste

a handful of raisins

a handful of walnuts, chopped

a few dots of butter

a pinch of lemon zest


1 egg yolk

Pre-heat the oven to 425F/220C.

  • Place the puff pastry sheet on a parchment covered baking sheet.
  • Slice the apples very thin, using a mandolin if you have one.
  • Place the apples in a bowl and add brown and white sugar to taste, some lemon zest, raisins, walnuts and cinnamon to taste. Taste as you go along. Mix everything well with your hands.
  • Pour the apple filling on the puff pastry, distributing it along one side, leaving an inch/3 cms border on both of the short sides. Place a few dots of butter on top of the apple filling.
  • Roll the pastry tightly, wetting the borders with a bit of water so the seams won’t open. Turn the strudel around so the seams are on the bottom.
  • With a paring knife, make three slits over the top of the pastry. Mix the egg yolk with a few drops of water and brush it over the top of the strudel. Sprinkle some sugar.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

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  1. Nice strudel. The authentic dough is a bit harder to work with as it tears easily, but it is very nice and has less butter than puff pastry.
    You are so lucky to cook side by side with your own Italian mamma. My mother thinks mixing cooked rice with a sauce is cooking risotto, and she boils eggplant…

    October 9, 2015
    • camparigirl

      Strudel dough is a pain and, as most of our readers like easy recipes, I didn’t even consider offering that recipe. My mom is about to go back to Italy and she is filling the freezer with tortellini, mushroom lasagna and ragu’. I smile every time I open the freezer.

      October 10, 2015
  2. silvia

    So sweet not only the recipe

    September 27, 2015
    • camparigirl

      Thanks…I am also determined to convert you to cooking.

      September 29, 2015
  3. My mum is a bit like that too, but she tends to think my desserts have too much sugar… or butter…

    September 24, 2015
    • camparigirl

      The other day I made a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for a dinner party. My mom ate some and said “It’s good, but there is too much butter, it’s too heavy – pass me that leftover.” I couldn’t stop laughing.

      September 25, 2015
  4. As a German born girl, this looks fabulous! Can’t wait to try it out, especially with pecans which I prefer. 🙂

    September 23, 2015
    • camparigirl

      German born: do you have any delectable German desserts to share?

      September 25, 2015

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