For many Americans fall is pie season: apple, pecan, pumpkin. I never knew what pie is until my early 20’s when friends in Jerusalem took me to an American restaurant. I had my first pecan pie; it was too sweet for my taste buds. In Israel, since the country is more influenced by the Eastern European culture, rather than the English one, Strudel is more common than pie. Living in Washington state, where apples literally grow on trees, I love to make apple strudel. This year my brother, who was visiting from Israel, asked me to use pears instead of apples for the strudel. I really enjoyed the results, which I share here.
Several notes for this recipe:
1. If you choose to use apples, peel them first.
2. This recipe is not an accurate science. There are the basic ingredients and there are optional ingredients. If you have an allergy to one of them, feel free to omit the optional ingredients or substitute them with my alternative recommendation.
1. If the puff pastry is frozen, move it to the fridge for overnight thawing.
If you forgot to do so, thaw it on the counter for a few hours.
2. I recommend keeping in the kitchen sheets of wax paper, or parchment paper.
3. Before preparing the strudel preheat the oven to 400F/200C
4. Use a 9”X13” baking pan.
One package of puff pastry (2 sheets)
3 hard pears – cored and sliced
½ cup dry blueberries/currants/raisins (optional).
½ cup chopped pecans/walnuts or any preferred nut (optional).
¼ cup sugar
1 heaping tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp butter
Topping ingredients: (optional)
2 tbsp sugar
Put all the filling ingredients in a big pan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, mixing the ingredients from time to time. The pears should be slightly soft, but not too soft that they loose their shape. Let cool.
Unfold one pastry sheet on a sheet of 10”X10” waxed paper. The paper will help to transfer the strudel to the baking pan. With a roller stretch the pastry sheet over the paper.
On the two exterior thirds of the pastry sheet, create diagonal strips with a knife, as shown in the photo below. I learned this method from William Sonoma’s Essentials Baking Techniques, a book that I really like. Another option is to just wrap the two outer folds over the filling.
Use half of the filling that is in the pan and place it in the center of the dough.
With a fork, mix the egg in a bowl. Starting from the top of the pastry sheet, fold a strip over the filling and brush it with the egg. Repeat the process, alternating between the sides.
Sprinkle sugar over the egg-washed strudel. Transfer the strudel to the baking pan by holding the paper from both sides. Fold the paper so that you can place both strudels next to each other in the baking pan. Repeat the process with the second pastry sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.