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Awesome apple strudel and other fabulous fruit desserts

The word strudel exudes a warm, sweet comfort that evokes closed eyes and smiling sighs. Just think: A slice of apple strudel with a hot cup of coffee is a scrumptious way to start your day. And serving a pear and Stilton strudel for your next brunch or dinner party is as delicious as it is impressive. Here are three easy recipes for fruit strudels that your family will enjoy and your guests will envy.

Apple Strudel

Simple Apple Strudel

Serves 8 A freshly made pastry crust, crisp tart apples and warm spices characterize this simply delicious apple strudel. Add chopped walnuts or even shredded cheddar cheese, if desired. For the filling:
2 large green apples, halved, cored, thinly sliced
Zest and juice of a lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plump juicy raisins For the pastry:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
2 tablespoons melted butter Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Toss filling ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. 2. Place flour, salt and 3 tablespoons sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add cold butter and pulse until butter is cut into flour mixture. Continue to pulse and add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time. When dough forms a ball, dump it out onto a lightly floured surface and let rest for 5 minutes. 3. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into an 8×12-inch rectangle. Place apple filling along a long side of the pastry, about an inch from the edges. Roll dough over filling and into a log, sealing the edges. 4. Place strudel on baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with extra sugar and bake for 35 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. When ready to serve, cut strudel into 8 slices and place on a serving platter.

Cherry Cheese Strudel

Serves 10 Cherry and cream cheese are an impeccable pair nestled in a flaky crust. This indulgent strudel is ideal for brunch or an afternoon nibble with tea in wait of a late dinner. For the pastry:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter For the filling:
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
Zest and juice of a small lemon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups cherry pie filling
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted Directions:
1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a standup mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in water and oil. On medium speed, mix until dough comes together and forms a ball. Add a teaspoon of water at a time if dough seems dry. Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times or until it becomes soft and smooth. Coat a large bowl with oil and place dough in bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover with plastic and set aside for 30 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a food processor, blend cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, salt, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla until smooth. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. 3. On a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 9×14-inch rectangle, brushing dough with melted butter if it starts to dry out. Spread cheese in the center of the dough, leaving a large border (cheese will spread when pastry is rolled). Spoon cherry filling on top of cheese mixture and sprinkle evenly with almonds. 4. Wrap dough over filling, taking care not to wrap too tight. Seal edges and brush pastry with butter. Carefully transfer strudel to prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Brush with butter. Use a sharp knife to score dough. Bake for 40 minutes or until pastry is golden. Place baking sheet on a wire rack and allow strudel to cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut on a diagonal into 10 slices. Serve warm.

Pear and Stilton Strudel

Serves 12 An easy assembly makes this strudel a family favorite. Using phyllo dough instead of hand-making a pastry dough gets this elegant dessert baked and on the table in less than a half-hour. The sweet-savory combination of pear and blue cheese also make for an impressive breakfast. Ingredients:
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 large ripe but firm pear, peeled, halved, cored, sliced
1/2 cup Stilton cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 sheets frozen phyllo pastry, thawed Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and spray a large cooking sheet with cooking spray. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add pear and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Transfer pear mixture to medium-sized bowl and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in cheese and sugar and set aside. 2. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Place 1 phyllo sheet on a flat surface, keeping the remaining phyllo covered with a damp towel. Using a pasty brush, brush phyllo with melted butter. Top with second phyllo sheet ad brush with melted butter. 3. Arrange half of the pear mixture along a short end of the phyllo, leaving a 1-inch border at each end of pear mixture. Fold in sides and roll tightly into a log. Brush all over with butter. Transfer to large baking sheet seam-side down and repeat with remaining phyllo, butter and pear mixture. Bake for 18 minutes or until strudels are golden brown. 4. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer strudel to a cutting board and cut each into 12 pieces on a diagonal. Transfer to a serving platter and serve warm.

More fruit-filled desserts

Winter dessert recipes: Crisps, crumbles and tarts
Double-crust Spice Apple Pie
Cinnamon Pear Pie

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