Sunday, August 31, 2008

the sky is falling

Apparently it's raining apples.

And really, I'm terribly excited about this. I'm ready for Fall. I wasn't sure at first since this summer has been unseasonably cool and just gorgeous, but the apples are here. And you can't argue with them. They smell like autumn. Their colors mimic the turning leaves: green, gold, pink, and red. The crack of the first bite is as eye-opening as that first cold morning after a long, sticky summer. So when I'm given a shopping bag full of rosy, sweet, free, orchard apples I know that cool weather, and hot tea is just around the corner and that sometimes the best accompaniment to a brisk day and a hot cup of tea is a sweet and flaky piece of warm apple strudel...

Simple Apple Strudel with Cardamom


12 sheets of Phyllo dough, thawed overnight in its packaging in the refrigerator

(When working with Phyllo dough, I thaw the entire package - any leftover dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and placed back in the freezer for later use)
1/2 stick plus 2 Tb. butter, melted (more, if needed)
1 1/2 Lbs. apples (approximately 6 medium), peeled, cored, quartered, and sliced*
1/3 cup plus 2 Tb. granulated sugar
1 Tb. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (grind whole green cardamom pods in a spice or coffee grinder for the best flavor)
pinch of salt
whole green cardamom pods

freshly ground cardamom
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine apples, 1/3 cup of sugar, cornstarch, cardamom, and salt in a large bowl, cover with a towel and set aside.

On a clean work surface, place one sheet of the thawed Phyllo dough. Cover the remaining sheets with a clean, damp cloth. Lightly brush the single sheet with a bit of the melted butter and layer on another sheet of dough. Lightly brush the second sheet with a bit of the melted butter. Continue to layer the sheets of dough, brushing each layer with butter before adding the next until you have used all 12 sheets (don't butter the final sheet). Gently spoon the apple mixture into the center of the layered dough, leaving a border of 2 1/2 - 3 inches on each side and a border of 4 1/2 - 5 inches on the top and bottom:

Carefully fold each side in over the apple mixture, then bring up the bottom edge to cover. Brush the top of the folded bottom edge with some of the remaining butter and fold the top edge over the bottom to cover the apple filling completely. Press together gently. Place strudel seam-side down on a silpat (or parchment) lined baking sheet. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter, sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, and make 3 slits in the top. Bake strudel for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until top is golden.

Remove pastry to a wire rack to cool, slightly. Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.
*Any type of firm-fleshed apple is suitable here. I used a fairly sweet variety, but a tart variety is always a good choice for baking. Depending on the sweetness of your apples, you may want to add more or use less sugar.


Lucy said...

Beautiful. Especially that flaky filo shot.

The autumnal thrill of those first, delicious nights that end summer are my favourite of the year.

Free apples? You are lucky, indeed.

natrontheape said...

i peed a little when i saw that... we're making it soon!

p.s. did you see "death at a funeral?" funny...

jilli said...

Chelsea your blog continues to inspire and delight me. Beautiful photos!

januarygypsy said...

Thanks guys!

Lucy - I am so in love with Autumn. If I had to choose, I think it might just be my very, very favorite time of year. I always get a jolt of energy and a spark of inspiration when I feel it in the air.

Nate - giggle, giggle... You make me laugh out loud. I did see that movie by the way. Have you heard about the new Cohen Brothers flick coming out next week?

Jill - You compliments mean a lot to me. Seriously. Really I'm just tickled when I remember to take off the lens cap...

natrontheape said...

I did hear about that movie "burn after reading." I really want to see it, but I heard it got bad reviews... but then again, so did the big lebowski... and we all know how awesome that movie is! I might go see it tomorrow.