Strudel, the original Viennese comfort food. Layers of crisp, wafer-thin pastry, encasing fruit so tender it’s just yields to the bite, wrapped in a blanket of sugared spice, best only when it burns the inside of your mouth. Served with pillows of cream, just slumping live a duvet. There is nothing quite like it.
So, this year, I have taken all that sings of the Holidays, and wrapped it in its flaky slanket, ready for its fluffy cream duvet. Pear & chocolate are a natural match, throw in mincemeat and the indulgence scent of Cardamom and you have a dish even the Three Wise Men would be willing to offer.
I have used the term ‘Strudel’ loosely here as it does not require the care and attention that traditional strudel pastry warrants. It is by no means traditional, more a quick delight inspired by the original.
270g Filo Pastry in 7 sheets
100g Butter, melted (divided into 50g portions), unsalted
60g Light Brown Muscovado Sugar
90g Fresh Breadcrumbs
¼ tsp Cinnamon, ground
2 Cardamom Pods, seeds crushed
700g Pears, peeled, cored, and sliced into 5mm slices
Small pinch Salt
80g Dark Chocolate, chopped into small chunks
2 tsp Lemon Juice
Icing Sugar and Whipped Cream to serve.
1. Begin with the breadcrumbs. Add 50g butter to a frying pan and add the breadcrumbs, cinnamon, and cardamom. Fry until golden then set aside to cool. Stir through the sugar.
2. Preheat oven 180C, line a baking sheet with non-stick paper and set aside.
3. Mix the pears with the lemon juice then add the mincemeat, salt, and chocolate. Set aside.
4. Lay 2 sheets of filo on a large, clean tea towel dusted with a little flour. Slightly overlap the long edges to form a large rectangle. Brush with melted butter and repeat with another two sheets on top. Leave some butter for brushing the top.
5. Continue layering the sheets with the butter until you have 3 layers of two sheets. Use the final one sheet to cover where the joins meet. Brush with butter once more.
6. With the short edge facing you, distribute the breadcrumb mixture over half the filo, making sure you leave a 2 cm border at the long edges.
7. Spread the pear mixture over the breadcrumbs and roughly smooth out.
8. Fold the long edges over the 2 cm border to stop the filling spilling out as you roll, then, using the tea towel as a guide, roll up from the short edges to form a long log that should now be encased at all sides.
9. Gently transfer to your prepared baking sheet, if you can manoeuvre it to roll directly onto the sheet that helps too.
10. Brush with the remaining melted butter and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes or until golden and piping hot.
11. Remove, allow to cool at little and come together before dusting with icing sugar and serving with copious amounts of cream.