It's been a long time since I made an apple strudel. I used to make them all the time, with frozen puff pastry. They're easy and fast and perfect for just two people -- not a lot of leftovers. I've been thinking about strudel lately, and I decided to make a recipe I saw on foodnetwork.com, by Robert Bleifer. Instead of brushing melted butter on the layers of Phyllo dough, Robert uses a mixture of beaten egg whites and just a touch of olive oil. Instead of the olive oil, I used melted Smart Balance buttery spread, which I think has a better flavor for a pastry. I made other changes as well, most notably I subbed toasted broken walnuts for the plumped rum-soaked raisins. I served this the other night, when we had a friend for dinner. The dessert got two thumbs up -- way up -- from our friend and from picky Guy. So I guess it's a winner. I'm not a big fan of Phyllo dough, and I've gotten away from strudels, but this was a nice dessert. One last word of warning: Don't serve it with ice cream, or anything for that matter. Let the strudel stand alone so you can appreciate its flavors. Any accompaniment will mask the apple flavors that want to shine on their own. It's a nice, light dessert -- perfect for 4 people. There was one slice left over, and I ate it the next day cold after lunch. It was still good.
Low-Fat Apple Strudel
Adapted from Robert Bleifer's Apple Strudel, Food Network
Rating: 8 out of 10
1 Granny Smith apple
1 Delicious apple Total weight of apples, about 10 oz. (2-1/2 cups)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. apricot preserves or apple jelly
1 egg white, room temperature
1 Tbsp. Smart Balance buttery spread, melted or butter
2 Tbsp. Panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. finely chopped almonds
2 Tbsp. sugar + 1 tsp. to sprinkle over top of strudel
5 sheets of phyllo
2 Tbsp. toasted broken walnuts
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel and core the apples and grate them on a box grater or slice them thinly. Measure out about 2-1/2 cups and put them in a bowl with the lemon juice, zest, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, and preserves. Toss to distribute ingredients.
In a medium microwaveable bowl, melt the Smart Balance and let it cool slightly. Add the egg white and whisk it till it's smooth.
In a small bowl or dish combine breadcrumbs, almonds and 2 Tbsp. sugar, stirring to distribute ingredients. Place one sheet of phyllo on a large piece of plastic wrap on a work surface and lightly brush with egg white mixture. Sprinkle about 1 Tbsp. crumb mixture over dough. Top with another layer of phyllo and repeat the process four times. When you get to the last sheet of phyllo, just brush it with the egg white mixture; don't use any crumb mixture on top.
Place the apple mixture on the lower 1/3 of the phyllo tack, being sure to leave a 2" border. Gently lift the bottom edge of the phyllo stack to cover the filling, then fold the side edges over, making an envelope. Continue to roll the stack away from you, until the filling is completely sealed in and the seam is on the bottom.
Transfer to the lined baking sheet, brush the top with the remaining egg white mixture and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Place in oven and bake 30 minutes. Let cool before serving. (I think the phyllo knew I didn't like it. One side looked perfect: see above photo. But the filling leaked out the other side. It's ok, it tasted fine. Puff pastry never did that. I think phyllo is just too thin. Haven't changed my mind; I still don't care for it.)