I had something cheesy planned for this post, but then the lovely folks from SABC 3’s Expresso morning show asked if I’d come bake something sweet for them.
The pace of live TV is exhilarating to say the least, even more so when one has just a few minutes to conjure up something fabulous. Hmmm. What can I bake that is impressive enough to make you look like a domestic goddess, yet quick enough to prep on tele? My thoughts immediately turned to my trusted cheat’s apple strudel recipe. I’ve been making it for years and it always gets oohs and ahs.
It’s stupid easy – just puff pastry (or phyllo) filled with apples, nuts, raisins, cinnamon and sugar. Roll it up like a Swiss roll and bang it in the oven. I normally take the lazy-cook route and serve this apple strudel with sweetened, whipped cream to which I add a touch of brandy or Calvados if there are no kids around. But that feels a bit like I’m short-changing you. So I whipped up a quick little salted caramel sauce too. Serve it with vanilla ice cream and folks will think you’ve been slaving away for hours. I won’t tell if you won’t.
All you need is…
For the salted caramel sauce
75g white sugar
75g light brown sugar
50g unsalted butter, cubed
half a teaspoon fleur de sel salt (I used Maldon)
For the strudel
square or rectangle of butter puff pastry (I used the one from Woolies, it’s just better)
tin of apples, thoroughly drained and chopped
large handful of pecan nuts, roughly chopped
large handful of seedless raisins
light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
vanilla ice cream, for serving
Place white and brown sugar in a deep saucepan and place on a medium-hot plate. Leave the sugar to melt. (Do not stir.) Once the sugar is melted and a golden caramel colour, remove from the heat and add the butter, whisking until the butter is melted. (It will bubble up ferociously. This is perfectly normal so don’t get a fright, just keep on whisking.) Then add the cream and salt and whisk until incorporated and smooth. Set aside.
Cover the pastry with the apples, then the nuts and raisins. Dust generously with cinnamon and sprinkle over sugar (how much sugar you use depends on how sweet your tooth is, but at least two tablespoons). Roll it up like a Swiss roll (the pastry should be defrosted but ice cold and you need to work fast). Brush with the egg and bake on a non-stick baking tray in a preheated 190 degree Celsius oven for 30-35 minutes until the pastry is cooked through and golden. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately with salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.