I am continuing in what appears to be my “mock apple” series of desserts. Yes, this uses zucchini and, yes, no one will ever know. From all appearances this is a classic strudel, rich, fruity and delicious. It just doesn’t have apples in it … which actually makes it more fool proof. One of the problems I have with making apple desserts, such as strudels or turnovers, is that the apples can sometimes cook down too quickly and become mushy, making for ‘soggy bottoms’. Zucchini stays firm for that right amount of crunch.
If you are still picking zucchini from your garden at the end of September, as I am, please give this recipe a try. I know its a bit time consuming, but well worth it! So, gather all your ingredients and prepare to make something your friends and family will be wow’d by!!
MOCK APPLE STRUDEL
6 cups zucchini – peeled and diced
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (not packaged seasoned)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 egg, separated (white only)
1 package frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400°. The strudel bakes for 30 minutes or til golden brown and cooked through.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the peeled, chopped zucchini. Add the lemon juice, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Cook til softened – about 15 minutes. It will bubble up and appear very syrupy, add the cornstarch and continue cooking until very thick – about 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the raisins. Set aside while you toast the bread crumbs.
Using old stale bread, toss it into your food processor or blender and shred it up. You’ll need about 2 cups of bread crumbs. In a saute pan, melt a half stick of butter (1/2 cup) and then add the bread crumbs. Toast lightly til brown but not burnt. Then set those aside.
From the frig, get a package of thawed puff pastry dough. On a floured board, roll out one sheet of puff pastry until its v-e-r-y thin. Yes, thinner than you think it can handle. It won’t break apart. Keep flouring and moving the pastry sheet around so that you can work with it. I was able to get it 25″ long. How about you?
Now working from about 3″ in from the long edge, spread the cooled, toasted bread crumbs, about 4″ or 5″ wide. On top of the bread crumbs, sprinkle the chopped walnuts. On top of the bread crumb/walnut mixture, drop spoonfuls of the thickened zucchini/raisin mixture. Spread it out as smoothly and evenly as possible.
Now comes the fun part. Pull the 3″ swath of pastry that you left without filling, up over the filling. Press down. Don’t be afraid. It will work. Fold each side in and over the filling – about 1″ or less. Now put your hands under the filling (which has been rolled once) and roll that over onto the pastry. Press down. Now do it again. You should be able to roll the pastry at least three times, resulting in a long, cylinder of filled pastry.
Lightly beat the egg white and brush it onto the open edge to seal everything. Press it into the pastry roll tightly. You don’t want anything leaking out.
Carefully pick up the strudel and lay it onto the parchment paper. Don’t be alarmed if your strudel doesn’t fit onto your pan. Forming a horseshoe shape is traditional. Brush the top with the remaining egg white. Put the strudel into the refrigerator to cool while you preheat the oven to 400°.
When the oven is ready, put the strudel into the center of the oven to bake – approximately 30 minutes. Check it quickly at 20 minutes to make sure its baking evenly. Turning the pan may be necessary for even baking.
When baked, cool the strudel on a baking rack. It may be necessary to use two spatulas to lift it. I know you’ll want to dive right in, but let it cool a bit. Trim off the end pieces and then serve it up … warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream! Rich, fruity, flaky … this is delicious!!!
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