|Layers of of Apples, Walnuts and Buttery Flaky Pastry|
If you ask me, the culinary world is clearly divided into two camps: the bakers and for lack of a better word, the cookers.
Bakers are a precise lot. They like to follow instructions to the letter, never veer too far from the path and can spend hours upon hours waiting for bread dough to rise, cookie dough to chill, or cakes to relax enough to welcome a stiff buttercream.
On the other side of the kitchen are the cookers. These are the people who start off with the best intentions of following along with a recipe, but soon enough, venture off on their own, adding a dash of this or that, substituting and omitting with seemingly reckless abandon. Cookers are busy and don’t have hours to spend waiting–there are football games to watch, books to read and naps to take.
You may find it interesting to learn that whenever I’m invited to any sort of function that requires bringing a dish, people BEG me to bake. Seriously, I’m so well-known for some of my baked delights that my reputation precedes me. North of San Francisco it’s my chocolate bread pudding, while to the south it’s those decadent brownies and berry crisps; around here, it’s a toss up between my gravity defying 14-layer cake with thin-as-a-pancake layers sandwiched with good old fashioned gooey cooked frosting and my baklava–which Mr. B regularly begs me to make.
But, the truth is that I have relatively little patience for baking and would prefer, any day of the week, to man my trusty Amana stove with the spice drawer cracked open and a cookbook tossed to the side. Knowing this about me, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve discovered a parallel universe of opportunity in the realm of Lazy Baking–a place where creativity, ingenuity and a few basic ingredients come together to produce swoon-worthy delights.
Case in point: a delicious apple strudel made simple by utilizing a box of Filo dough, a few loose apples, the remains of a bag of walnuts and a quick appraisal of the spice drawer. Best of all, this recipe comes together quickly enough to warrant a second pot of coffee and a comfortable chair–the perfect spot to catch up on a little reading.
Lazy Apple Strudel
1 package of Filo dough, thawed
6 to 8 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 and 1/2 stick of butter, plus extra for buttering the pan
3/4 cup of walnuts
1/3 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoons finely ground unseasoned breadcrumbs
1. Melt a 1/2 stick of butter in a heavy cast iron skillet and then add the sliced apples; cook, stirring every so often until the apples are soft and lightly caramelized. Set aside.
2. In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, sugar and spices until coarsely ground; set aside.
3. Remove the thawed Filo from the package, unroll and lie flat on a cutting board.
4. Position a 10 x 10 inch pan onto of the unrolled Filo and cut, following the perimeter, with a serrated knife; cover the ‘square’ of Filo with a damp paper towel discard the scraps.
5. Melt one stick of butter in a microwave-safe glass measuring cup.
6. Brush the bottom of the baking pan with melted butter to cover and then sprinkle with the finely ground breadcrumbs.
7. Remove the wet paper towel from the stack of Filo squares. Working quickly, place 5 squares (in one move) onto of the buttered crumbs and then brush the Filo with melted butter–don’t worry about any tears–Filo is extremely forgiving.
8. Place another 4 layers on top and then add a layer of the apple mixture and a handful of the walnut crumb mixture.
9. Top with another 5 layers of Filo and melted butter, apple mixture and walnuts; continue building the strudel in layers, ending with a layer of at least 5 sheets of Filo.
10. Butter the top thoroughly, sliding a knife around the edges and allowing the melted butter to slide between the sides of the pan and the strudel; sprinkle the buttered top lightly with granulated sugar.
11. With a serrated knife, cut the strudel into squares and then bake in a 350 degree oven until golden and crisp.
12. Allow to cool slightly; serve with fresh whipped cream and hot coffee.