My mother, Jessie, used to make large batches of strudel and would often give one or two of these sweet, fragrant pastries as a gift to family and friends. When I decided to attempt strudel making myself, I opted for my mother's choice of puff pastry rolled extremely thin as the casing. I looked through cookery books to guide the composition of the filling and chose that prescribed by Claudia Roden in The Book of Jewish Food and, while I have now modified the components of that filling, the proportions remain the same. Below is the recipe I use - with my thanks to my mother and to Claudia.
Makes four strudels
● 300g (12 oz) ready made puff pastry (8 inch width of ready rolled)
● Flour for rolling out pastry
● 500g (1lb) of sharp eating apples eg Granny Smiths
● 500g (1lb) of sweet eating apples eg Gala
● Juice of 1 lemon
● 60g (2½ oz) caster sugar
● 75g (3 oz) mixed chopped nuts
● 25g (1 oz) toasted chopped hazelnuts
● 40g (1½ oz) sultanas or raisins
● 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
● 75g (3 oz) dry, fine challah breadcrumbs – use 2, or 3 day old challah, discard crusts and whizz to crumbs in a food processor
● 1 beaten egg (for egg wash)
● You will need two baking trays, rinsed in cold water, with a trace of water left on.
● Preheat oven to 230°C (220°C fan oven/ 450°F/ Gas Mark 8).
● Squeeze lemon juice into a bowl. Peel, core and chop apples into small pieces and add to lemon juice, turn over thoroughly, then add the other filling ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
● Cut the pastry into 4 equal pieces. Take one piece at a time and roll out into a rectangle about 10 inches by 12 inches.
● You will need to use flour shaken onto the board, rolling pin and pastry to stop it from sticking.
● Put a quarter of the filling into the centre area of the pastry and with hands, arrange as a column down the middle of the pastry.
● Flip over one side, damp with water and flip over the other side and press so the pastry is securely sealed.
● Now turn in the spare pastry at top and bottom. Slip the palette knife under the strudel and turn over onto the baking sheet.
● Place 2 strudels on each sheet. Brush with beaten egg and make a few small slits in pastry.
● Bake for 30 minutes.
● Best served warm with shake of icing sugar on top and ice-cream.
● If using strudels from cold, reheat by placing into a hot oven for about 10 minutes.
● These freeze well – just wrap each cold strudel in foil.