The South is home to many vital ingredients of the great American melting pot—a vessel both cultural and culinary, at once historical and ever changing. Our foods tell a lot about our heritage, and some of the most interesting lore lies behind the South’s ethnic bread and pastries. Settlers, who brought a bit of their motherland with them even as they searched for a new home, introduced favorites such as bagels, Polish Sugar Cake, and sopaipillas to the South. In November of 1989 Southern Living published this recipe sent to us by Mrs. Jack Davis of Charlotte, North Carolina, for Apple Strudel. Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Germany all lay claim to strudel, a delicate, fruit-filled pastry. Traditionally, the dough is stretched on a tabletop, and fists are clenched to avoid tearing it with fingernails. Instead of following this procedure, Mrs. Davis’ recipe uses phyllo pastry.
1/4 cup raisins
1 tablespoon rum extract
6 medium apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup blanched almonds, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
12 sheets commercial frozen phyllo pastry, thawed
2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs, divided
How to Make It
Combine raisins and rum extract; let stand 2 hours. Combine raisin mixture, apples, and next 4 ingredients.
Place 1 sheet of phyllo on a damp towel (keep remaining phyllo covered). Lightly brush phyllo with melted butter. Layer 5 more sheets phyllo on first sheet, 1 at a time, brushing each sheet with butter. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 cup breadcrumbs.
Spread half of apple filling over buttered phyllo, leaving a 3-inch border on 1 long edge of pastry and a 2-inch border on other 3 edges. Fold long edge with 3-inch border over apple filling. Fold short edges of phyllo over 2 inches; brush with melted butter. Fold other long edge of phyllo over 2 inches; brush with melted butter.
Starting at long side with 2-inch border, roll jellyroll fashion. Place pastry, seam side down, on a lightly greased 15- x 10- x 1-inch jellyroll pan. Brush with melted butter.
Repeat procedure with remaining ingredients for second strudel. Bake at 375˚ for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.