Apricot & Almond Strudel

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    one

    5 × 15 inch 13 × 38 cm ) Strudel

Appears in

The Viennese/Hungarian tradition offers many ways to prepare a Strudel, using doughs as diverse as yeast doughs, cookie doughs, and even puff pastry. The Strudel here is made from puff pastry, but instead of the dough being rolled around the filling, the filling is stacked between two layers of dough. The top layer of dough is slashed to let steam escape. I have provided lots of possibilities for variations. If you decide to use canned apricots for this, try to find the type packed in apricot juice instead of syrup or water as they have the best flavor.

Ingredients

  • ½ batch Instant Puff Pastry, or about pounds (1 kg) prepared all-butter puff pastry
  • 3 ounces (75 grams/about cup) canned almond paste
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 pounds (1.35 kg) fresh apricots, halved, pitted, and each half cut in half again, or about 24 well-drained canned apricot halves
  • 2 tablespoons sugar for sprinkling on the apricots
  • Egg wash: 1 large egg well beaten with a pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar for sprinkling on top of the pastry
  • 1 cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan lined with parchment or foil

Method

  1. Place the Instant Puff Pastry dough on a floured work surface and dust the dough with flour. With a rolling pin, use close parallel strokes to soften the dough. Turn it 90 degrees and press again. Repeat until the dough is slightly softened and easy to roll, about 4 times. Being careful to keep both the work surface and the dough lightly floured at all times, roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 × 16 inches (30 × 40 cm.. Slide the dough onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate it while preparing the filling.
  2. Combine the almond paste and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on low to medium speed with the paddle until the paste and sugar are reduced to fine crumbs. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each. Use a large rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl and paddle. Add the lemon zest and butter and beat until completely incorporated. Beat in the flour. Use the spatula to give a final mix.
  3. Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C).
  4. Slide the chilled dough onto the floured work surface and use a sharp pastry wheel to trim it to exactly 11 × 15 inches (28 × 38 cm.. Then cut the dough into 2 rectangles, one 5 × 15 inches (13 × 38 cm., the other 6 × 15 inches (15 × 38 cm.. (The larger piece becomes the top and is wider to accommodate the filling.) Slide the larger rectangle onto the cookie sheet and refrigerate. Fold the smaller rectangle in thirds lengthwise and place it on the prepared pan. Pierce the dough with a fork all over at 1- inch (-cm) intervals.
  5. Spoon the filling lengthwise down the middle of the dough. Use a small metal offset spatula to spread evenly, leaving a ½- inch (1-cm) margin all around. Arrange the apricots evenly on top. Sprinkle the sugar.
  6. Remove the other layer of dough from the refrigerator and keep it on the cookie sheet. Gently fold the dough, making the two 15- inch (38-cm) sides meet, without pressing down at the fold. Use the pastry wheel or a sharp thin-bladed knife to slash the fold at about 3/4- inch (2-cm) intervals the whole length of the dough, to within 1 inch ( cm) of the edges. Unfold the dough. Quickly brush the exposed margin of the bottom crust with egg wash, being careful to avoid puddles. Slide the slashed layer of pastry on top, aligning the edges. The slashes should be straight; you may need to adjust them.
  7. Use a fingertip to press the 2 layers of pastry together, a little in from the edge. Pierce through the border of dough, at ½- inch (1-cm) intervals, the point of a paring knife held perpendicular to the dough. Use the back of the knife to indent the 2 layers of pastry all around. Brush the top pastry with egg wash, taking care not to drip any down the sides. Sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Bake the Strudel for 15 minutes, then decrease the heat to 350°F (180°C). Continue baking the Strudel until the dough is well colored and firm and the apricots are bubbling slightly, about 20 additional minutes. Cool on the pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then slide the paper off the pan and cool completely on a rack. Slide the Strudel off the paper onto a platter to serve.

Serving

Cut the Strudel crosswise into - inch (-cm) long pieces. A little whipped cream is good with this.

Storage

Keep at room temperature on the day it is baked. Cover and keep at room temperature for longer storage. After about 24 hours, the pastry begins to lose its fresh, buttery flavor.

Variations

Substitute pitted Italian prune plums or sweet cherries, or even a couple of thinly sliced Golden Delicious apples for the apricots. Add a few pinches of ground cinnamon to the sugar for sprinkling on cherries or apples.

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