My grandmother Nettie’s signature dessert was her apple strudel. It was served at all family occasions. Not only was it very good, but it was made from phyllo pastry that she made herself, from scratch, a miracle of patience and technique.
As I was going through Catherine’s things a couple of weeks ago, I came across a laminated copy of Nana’s strudel recipe stuck between a couple of cookbooks on the bookshelf. I set it aside, with thoughts that I might make it myself someday; opportunity presented itself this weekend when we were invited to the multicultural potluck lunch tomorrow at St. Paul’s Anglican Church. We will be the Croatian contingent.
Setting out to actually make the strudel this evening, I realized that Nana’s recipe was very heavy on the phyllo making and very light on the strudel making. This makes sense: when you’re making your own phyllo, the strudel part, time- and complexity-wise, is insignificant.
I wasn’t up to making phyllo from scratch, however, and so I was left to follow her scant instructions at the very end for the strudel, and to wing it from there. I had the benefit of having watched her make it many times, but that was over 30 years ago.
I’m rather proud of the result. It’s demonstrably apple strudel. I could have used more phyllo, and kept the apples away from the edges, but the result is pleasantly tart, with a hint of cinnamon and walnuts, and while nowhere near as good as Nana’s, it’s a credible homage.
If you are a parishioner at St. Paul’s, there will be a dozen pieces up for grabs tomorrow morning.