Apple Strudel with Phyllo and Cardamom
November 12, 2020
Have you ever baked with cardamom? It’s one of those spices I had always been intrigued by before I tried it. The flavor is tough to nail down, but its cult following swears by it. It’s a spice that can crossover sweet and savory dishes. Here, I decided to highlight its unique and complex flavor in an apple strudel with phyllo. It makes for an impressive looking and tasting dessert, sure to fascinate your guests.
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Cardamom is not necessarily a traditional flavor in a strudel. However, the bittersweet spice tends to complement the autumn pie seasonings like cinnamon and cloves so well. It’s most commonly used in the Middle East and North Africa, but it’s also pretty common in Scandinavia, especially Sweden.
It tastes kind of like a pumpkin pie spice blend, but with floral and citrus undertones. The flavor of cardamom is tough to replicate, so I suggest using the real deal. But if you don’t like it or don’t want to buy a jar just for one recipe, you can easily substitute with your favorite fall spice blend.
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for this apple strudel with phyllo and cardamom at your grocery store. You can also order online using Amazon Pantry, or try Amazon Fresh for grocery delivery.
- Pantry: Golden raisins, Brown sugar
- From the Bar: Bourbon
- Fridge: Butter, Apple cider
- Spice Rack: Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cloves
- Produce: Apples
- Freezer: Phyllo pastry sheets
- Equipment: Sheet pan, Parchment paper, Saucepan, Slotted spoon, Mixing bowl, Pastry brush
Let’s Make Cardamom Apple Filling
I like to change up recipes and add my own little twist to them. In this case, I’m replacing the traditional strudel pastry with the much easier phyllo and adding cardamom to the flavor profile. However, there were a few places I wanted to keep the recipe standard.
And that starts with the raisins. I love the little extra sweetness and juicy bites these add to a strudel. I decided to go with golden raisins, which have a lighter flavor than their purple counterparts. All the better to soak up that bourbon! Combine the two and let them sit while you prepare the apples.
Choose good, firm baking apples. I used Honeycrisps, but you can also use Granny Smiths. In this recipe, I’d stay away from softer varieties like McIntosh or Cortland apples. Otherwise, your filling may turn into apple mush.
Slice them into 1/4-inch pieces and set aside while you melt the butter. Add in brown sugar and spices to create a nice, thick syrup. Then, gently add the apples and some cider, and mix everything up carefully until the slices are coated.
Cover the pot and let the apples cook for a few minutes. Stir gently, then cover again and let them continue cooking for another couple. You will know the apples are ready when they are fork-tender, which means you can easily puncture them with a fork.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the apples into a heat-proof mixing bowl. Leave all that sticky, thick syrup behind, because we are going to use it later. Drain the raisins, adding the extra bourbon into the pan with the syrup. Then, mix up the apples and raisins, and set them aside.
How to Make an Apple Strudel with Phyllo
When you work with phyllo sheets, you normally will brush each sheet with butter. When baked, the water in the butter evaporates, creating air pockets, which give phyllo its signature flaky texture. But, we can’t let that extra syrup and bourbon go to waste. So I decided to use it between the phyllo.
Add the rest of the butter to the pot with the syrup and stir as it melts. Once everything is combined, turn off the heat and transfer the butter mixture to a small, glass dish. Then, grab your pastry brush and phyllo dough.
This is a good time to start preheating your oven, and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
Then, set yourself up a nice workspace for building the strudel by lining a second sheet pan or a large cutting board with another sheet of parchment paper. Place a single sheet of phyllo on the workspace. Using your pastry brush, gently coat the sheet in just under a quarter of the butter mixture.
If the dough tears a little bit, that’s okay. But try to work quickly and carefully the prevent any large rips. Keep any sheets that you are not working with covered with a damp cloth or paper towel. Also, the edges tend to dry out more quickly, so you may be able to save a few tears by starting there when brushing.
Once it’s fully coated, add a second sheet of phyllo right on top. Try to line it up the best you can, but it’s okay if it’s not completely perfect. Brush another layer of the butter mixture on this one. Repeat until you have five sheets of phyllo, filled with four layers of the sweet butter.
On the top sheet, add your filling in a long line down the middle, parallel to the longer side of the phyllo. It should be about a third as wide as the dough sheets. Then, fold in both the edges to create a tube of phyllo, with the apple filling in the middle.
You want to bake it with the seam down, so to flip it, I suggest placing your prepared sheet pan on top. Then carefully but quickly flip over the entire workspace. The strudel will have the seam on the bottom, and be almost ready to go in the oven.
Give the top one last brush of the butter, then bake for 12-18 minutes. You will know it’s done when the edges of the pastry are flaky and browned. Let it cool on the pan for at least 15-20 minutes before serving.
Easy phyllo dough and fragrant cardamom make this Apple Strudel so simple and impressive!
How to Serve Apple Strudel
Cut the cooled strudel into 1-inch wide slices, and serve warm or at room temperature. Add a dollop of freshly whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. For a simpler presentation, try a dusting of powdered sugar.
Apple strudel is one of those dishes you can serve as dessert or with breakfast. Either way, try pairing it with a warm pear cider or a chai white hot chocolate for a cozy fall treat. Or for something with a bit more kick, serve the elegant apple brandy alexander cocktail.
If you are looking for a fun twist, try serving slices of strudel with coffee ice cream. The flavor goes really nicely with the cardamom and spices.
Use Up Leftover Ingredients
- Raisins are perfect on top of a Christmas morning favorite, apple kuchen.
- Use extra bourbon to mix up a fun cocktail, like an amaretto old fashioned.
- Spice up a butternut squash cornbread with cinnamon and cloves.
- Apples are one of my favorites to work with. Try a caramel apple no-bake cheesecake, a classic apple tart, or a pear and apple crisp.
- Turn apple cider into caramel, and stuff these snickerdoodles.
Apple Strudel with Phyllo and Cardamom
- ¼ Cup Golden Raisins
- 2 oz Bourbon
- 4 Tbsp Butter divided
- 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 ½ tsp Cardamom
- ¼ tsp Ground Cloves
- 3 Medium Apples peeled if desired, and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 2 Tbsp Apple Cider
- 5 Sheets Phyllo Pastry
- Refer to the instructions on your phyllo pastry. If frozen, thaw according to the manufacturer's instructions, so it's ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the raisins and bourbon. Microwave for 20 seconds and stir, then set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Then add in the brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves, and stir until combined.
- Add in the apples and apple cider. Add the liquid from the raisins, setting the raisins themselves aside. Stir to combine, then cover and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are fork tender and coated.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the apples into a heat-proof bowl, leaving any excess syrup behind in the pot. Drain the bourbon from the raisins into the pot, and then add the raisins to the apples and stir to combine.
- Add the remaining butter to the pot, and cook on medium, stirring until the butter has melted. Turn off the heat, and transfer the butter mixture to a small heat-proof dish.
- Prepare a work surface by lining a second sheet pan or a large cutting or serving board with parchment paper. Place a sheet of phyllo on the surface, and cover the rest with a wet paper towel while not in use.
- Using a pastry brush, spread just under ¼ of the butter mixture over the phyllo, being careful not to tear the dough. Add another sheet of phyllo and repeat spreading with the butter mix until you have 5 total layers.
- On top of the fifth sheet of phyllo, add the apple and raisin filling in a row in the center, parallel to the longer side of the phyllo. Fold in both sides of the dough to make a tube. Place the first prepared sheet pan upside down on top, and carefully flip the entire work surface and the strudel over so the seam side is down on that pan.
- Brush the top with the remaining butter mixture, and then bake for 12-18 minutes, until the edges of the pastry are flaky and browned. Let cool for 15-20 minutes, then cut into 1-inch rings. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
- What apples should I use? Use firm baking apples, such as Granny Smith or HoneyCrisp. Avoid apples that do not hold their shape, like McIntosh varieties.
- Can I quickly thaw phyllo? If you forget to thaw your frozen phyllo overnight, you can microwave it inside the plastic wrapping for 30 seconds. However, following the instructions may result in a better end product.
- What are some substitutions?
- If you prefer to skip the bourbon, soak the raisins in water or watered down apple cider.
- To replace the apple cider, use water.
- I have not tried this with other fruit, but firm pears such as Bosc should work well.
- If you don't like cardamom, you can replace the spices with an equal amount of apple or pumpkin pie spice, or any combination of allspice, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- I have not tried with purple raisins instead of golden, but it should work fine, but may have a slightly different flavor.