The only kind of strudel I’ve seen in the U.S. is the Viennese apple strudel. In fact, when Americans say “strudel,” they mean “apple strudel.” However, the word strudel means whirlpool in German, and describes any rolled flaky pastry with any filling, meet, cheese, fruit, or vegetables. There is actually a sauerkraut strudel! The first one, though, was created in Vienna in 15th century, as the wave of Ottoman Empire conquests brought with it Turkish baklava, among other exotic foods. Crafty Viennese literally twisted the Turkish dessert, filled it with apples, and thus the famous Wiener Apfelstrudel was born.
The one that became a part of our Rosh Hashana celebration is a Plum Prune Strudel, filled with jam, or prune butter, made of Italian Prune Plums, sometimes also called European plums. In Russia and Ukraine they are known as Hungarian plums, and every summer all of us kids were sent up the trees to pick them for povidlo – the jam. Povidlo would percolate in huge copper pots for several hours, stirred by adults and protected from curious bees by us. Pronounced ready, the thick dark purple mass was poured into jars, while still hot, and hermetically closed, to preserve for winter. The first jar was always opened to make the first strudel of the year, for Rosh Hashana.
I do know how to make flaky dough, but ready-made Phyllo dough is one of the shortcuts that make my life easier. The filing consists of prune butter combined with roughly chopped walnuts, raisins, and a splash of lemon juice.
Once you combine all four filling ingredients, I suggest to taste it. If it’s too sour to your taste, add some honey or sugar.
Lay out several sheets of flaky dough (6 – 8), overlapping them by 2 -3 inches (5 -8 cm). Mist with oil between layers and on top of the top layer. Spoon the filling in a row, about 2 – 3 inches from you and the same distance from both sides. Cover it with the center flap, then the sides, and roll to the end. You should end up with the seam down.
Paint it with egg wash and bake for 40 – 45 minutes until golden brown. Let it cool completely before cutting, otherwise you’ll crush it. “Ot azoy ist der leybn, – muttered my grandmother, cutting the strudel, – sweet is dark, and dark is sweet. Gamzeletoive – and this is good!”
Life is full of hidden messages. What seems sweet to us, might have a darker side, and what appears dark, will turn out sweet. For a year full of sweet surprises, enjoy this scrumptious dessert! Shana Tova u’Metuka! A Zis Yor!
The dissemination of all my holiday recipes to a wider audience has been made possible through a valiant effort of Esme, The Recipe Hunter, of https://cookandenjoyrecipes.wordpress.com, and her fantastic Recipe Exchange program. Thank you again, dear Esme, for performing this vitally important service for the community.
- 6 – 8 sheets Phyllo, or any other flaky dough
- 2 cups Prune Butter or any dark jam, i.e. blueberry, blackberry, etc.
- 1/2 cup raisins (2 oz)
- 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Alternatively, 1 tablespoon honey or sugar to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease baking sheet.
- Combine all filling ingredients. Mix well. Adjust sweetener to taste.
- Layer Phyllo dough overlapping sheets by 2 – 3 inches (5 – 8 cm). Spray each layer with oil.
- Place filling in a row 2 -3 inches from you and from the sides. Cover filling with center flap first, then side flaps. Roll to the end, finish seam down.
- Paint with egg wash, bake for 40 – 45 minutes.
- Remove, cool completely before cutting.