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Friday, 9 March 2012

Namibian/German Apple Strudel

I apologize at the outset to German chefs. This is NOT the way it is traditionally cooked. Your traditional way is superb. The way I have outlined is how it has been adapted by South Africans who have visited Namibia and experienced some of the amazing confectionery found in the old German towns such as Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Windhoek. 
Lets start off by putting two rolls of ready made, frozen puff pastry in the fridge to defrost overnight. Of course if you have the skills then make it yourself. I do when I have time, but it can be a rather laborious process if you are going to do it well.

Now start with the apples. 10 medium any variety. I often use the one and half kg econo pack apples found everywhere in Southern Africa which originate in the Cape. Home of the best apples in the world!

peel them, then slice off chunks until you reach the core. Discard this part or add it and the peels to the cider barrel.
Now for the bit which makes this special....
collect together:

I cup of white sugar.
half cup of seedless black raisins
half a cup of pecan nuts roughly chopped. (This ingredient is not essential but is incredibly good)
4 or 5 cloves or a level teaspoon of ground cloves.
half cup of brandy to flambe the apple when it is cooked. (Also can be omitted)
Fry the apple in batches pure butter ensuring the apple browns slightly. At the same time add the sugar, pecan nuts and raisins and cloves in batches. They need to soften slightly.

Put all the cooked ingredients into one large pan on high heat and pour the brandy in and light it. (Mind your eyebrows ha ha!) Tilt the pan to keep it burning  until the fire eventually goes out.

A big secret is the apples must not be mushy at this stage of cooking. So when you brown them in butter do it briefly on high heat and remove them as soon as possible and put them onto a cold plate to stop the cooking. If you end up with too much runny sauce, drain it from the apples and VERY VERY carefully reduce it either in a pan watching it like a hawk or in a large tray in the oven on low. Return the thickened sauce to the apples.

Now unroll a sheet of pastry and lay it in a baking tray or circular pie dish. DO NOT try and roll it bigger to fit. Rather cut off excess and gently lat them down to fill spaces. If you touch the pastry too much it will not puff up as much. Now bake that bottom sheet until light brown. Medium oven in the middle. No blind filler in the pastry. Just as it is. Don't worry that it puffs right up.
Now gently spoon the apple mixture evenly over the pastry. Lay another roll of pastry over it . Again trim and fill spaces if using a round dish. I prefer a baking tray as in the illustration above.
Bake on medium in the middle of the oven again until nicely browned.
Try and serve as soon after baking as possible, although it does keep very well for a couple of hours.
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.


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