Classic strudel involves hours of preparation, rolling and pulling the dough until it is so thin you can read a newspaper through it. Our first move for an easy strudel? Abandoning the notion of homemade dough and starting with a simpler option: store-bought phyllo dough.
This was an acceptable and very quick substitute, but it required a bit of special attention. To add flavor and keep it crisp and flaky, we brushed the layers with butter and then sprinkled them with sugar. And to prevent the dough from drying out as the strudel was in the oven, we baked it in a hot oven. Just 15 minutes later, we had the perfect casing for our apple slices: crisp yet slightly yielding, with a deeply caramelized exterior.
ASSEMBLING EASY APPLE STRUDEL
1. Make a filling with fresh bread crumbs: After brushing your phyllo with butter and sprinkling each layer with sugar, mound the filling along the bottom edge of the dough, leaving a 2½ -inch border on the bottom and a 2-inch border on the sides. Fresh bread crumbs keep the filling from being overly wet and making the delicate pastry soggy.
2. Fold up the sides, then roll up the strudel: Fold the dough on the sides over the apples. Fold the dough on the bottom over the apples and continue to roll the dough around the filling to form the strudel. Folding up the sides first keeps the filling from falling out.
3. Transfer the strudel: After the strudel has been assembled and rolled, gently lay it seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Transferring the strudel at this point can be a little tricky because the dough is delicate—we find it easiest to use our hands.
4. Cut vents: Brush the strudel with butter and sprinkle with the remaining sugar, then cut four 1-inch vents across the top of the strudel with a small knife. The vents allow the steam to escape the pastry during baking—without vents, the pastry will burst open in the oven and make a mess.
5. Let the strudel cool before slicing: Bake the strudel in a 475-degree oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes, then let it cool until it is just warm, about 40 minutes, before serving. Baking it quickly in a very hot oven prevents the delicate phyllo dough from drying out and cracking apart as the strudel bakes. If you try to slice it while hot, the delicate pastry will simply fall apart.
Want to try for yourself? Check out our Easy Apple Strudel recipe for free through October 25th.