This gorgeous Succot strudel combines the succulence of fresh pears with the fruity intensity of ready-to-eat dried pears. It's made with filo pastry and has glorious flavour and texture. The final result is well worth the effort. Chag Sameach!
Best served warm Leftovers keep 2 days under refrigeration. Freeze cooked for 1 month
For the filling:
50g (2 oz) pecans, coarsely chopped
675g (1 ½ lb) ripe dessert pears (e.g. Comice, Williams or Bosc)
75g (3 oz) dried pears
2 level tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp peach brandy or orange juice
l tbsp lemon juice
l teasp grated lemon rind
l teasp ground cinnamon
2 scant tbsp peach or apricot conserve
For the pastry:
1 x 275g (minimum weight) pack of fillo pastry, defrosted
100g (3½ oz) unsalted butter or margarine, melted
100g (3½ oz) pack macaroon, ratafia or Amaretti biscuits crushed till the texture of coarse sand
Icing sugar for dusting
● At least half an hour before you plan to assemble the strudel (longer will do no harm), make the filling. Put the pecans in a small, preferably non-stick frying pan and toss over medium heat until they smell toasty. Reserve.
● Peel, quarter and core the fresh pears then slice them 1 cm (½ inch) thick. Slice the dried pears into strips as thinly as possible.
● Put both kinds of pear into a large bowl and add all the remaining filling ingredients except the nuts. Mix gently then leave for 30 minutes or longer for the flavours to blend and some of the liquid to be absorbed by the dried pears.
● When ready to bake the strudel, pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas 6). Only add the toasted nuts to the filling now so they stay crunchy.
● To assemble the strudel you will need three layers of filo pastry, each made up into a 45 cm (18 inch) square. It is easier to roll up the strudel if you assemble it on a tea towel, leaving the 5cm (2 inches) of the towel nearest to you clear of pastry.
● Make up the first 45cm (18 inch) square on the tea towel, brush it thinly but evenly with the melted fat, then scatter with one-third of the crumbs.
● Arrange another square of filo on top , brush as before and scatter with another third of the crumbs, then repeat the brushing and crumbing with the top square.
● Arrange the filling in a long strip about 5-7.5 cm (2-3 inches) wide and 7.5 cm (3 inches) from the edge of the pastry nearest to you, leaving 2.5 cm (1 inch) of pastry clear of filling on either side
● Turn the sides of the pastry in to seal in the juices. Then with the help of the tea towel, roll up into a strudel shape and place on a shallow, greased baking tray, join side down.
● Brush the top of the strudel with an even layer of the remaining fat. Make 8 diagonal slashes about 5cm (2 inches) apart through the top layer of pastry. Bake for 35 minutes until crisp and golden brown.
● Serve warm, generously dredged with icing sugar.
● Hint: Bring the filo home in a coolbag to prevent it defrosting. The strudel reheats well in a moderate oven.