*3-5 Granny Smith Apples
*6-8 sheets of Philo dough
*One to two sticks of butter (unsalted preferable, but salted is fine)
*Granulated sugar, for sprinkling and caramelizing, one cup divided
*Ground cinnamon (pinch)
*Cornstarch (tsp) mixed with 4 tsp. cold water
*One egg, beaten
Optional: Peach Jelly**
**You can use peach jelly as a thickening agent if you don’t have cornstarch around. The pectin in the jelly will thicken the apples as well. You can use the peach jelly instead of or in addition to the cornstarch. If you choose to use both, adjust the measurements by using less of each accordingly. Remember, the point is for the mixture to be thick and not watery.
The first thing that must be stressed is the delicacy of the Philo dough sheets. The same fragility that gives the strudel its flaky melt in your mouth quality is the same delicacy that can destroy the dish. The instructions to thaw the dough to room temperature for 5 hours are very precise; any longer and the dough will dry out, rendering it useless as it will break when you try to work with it. So prepare accordingly and be mindful in the kitchen.
Melt half a stick of butter over medium heat, throw in chopped apples and half a cup of granulated sugar and cook apples until they soften just a little bit (5-6 minutes). The apples are going to be cooked again in the oven and if overcooked, can turn to applesauce so it is safer to undercook the apples in this step than overcook them.
When your apples are nearing the finish line, toss in 1/2 – 1 tsp of ground cinnamon and mix well.
Then mix a tbsp of cornstarch with your 4tsps cold water in a small bowl and add it to the apple mixture. The heat of the stovetop apples and the coolness of the cornstarch mix will cause the apple mixture to thicken nicely. The goal is to have a thick mixture with very little water. Your mixture should not be watery at all.
As soon as your apples reach a thickened consistency, turn off the heat and remove the apples. Let the apples cool to at least room temperature.
Preheat your oven to 350.
This is when you need to work fast. Once your apples have cooled and the oven is preheating, melt 1/2 stick of butter in the microwave. Get out your pastry brush. And have the remainder of your granulated sugar ready.
At this point you have probably tasted some of your cooked apples. Based on the quality and sweetness of the apples, you may need more or less sugar as you begin rolling your strudel. Err on the side of more sugar if you can’t decide, and especially if it still has the sour bite Granny Smiths tend to have.
On a large, flat surface (countertop works well) lay out one Philo dough sheet. Drizzle and lightly brush the melted butter across the entire sheet, working from the outside in because the edges start drying. Sprinkle sugar across the entire sheet. Repeat this 5-7 times until you have 6-8 layers of Philo.
Get ready to roll. Wrap the Philo in front of the mixture over onto it, then, as you tuck the apples in, like you’re rolling a burrito, roll it again. You don’t want more than two to two and a half rolls of Philo layers.
Slice off any excess Philo dough from the top and from the sides as well. Squeeze and twist the ends lightly to make it easier to cut off the dough.
Brush egg wash under the seam of the dough where the two edges meet to “seal it.”
Give it one last sprinkle of sugar and place it in the oven.
Bake until golden brown or for 1/2 an hour. It shouldn’t bake for more than half an hour, lest the apples turn into applesauce. The apples should still have texture when the dish is finished.
I recommend eating it with two scoops of french vanilla ice cream, but it’s delicious on it’s own too. Make sure you have a broom handy, those crispy flakes tend to get everywhere 🙂