Before publishing this recipe I made my research to compare my memories to the variety of strudel recipes available. I could hardly find anything, only 2 images, which at least slightly resembled what I was looking for. None of the recipes was for a strudel, packed with dry cherries and walnuts, which can be stored for a long time without refrigeration. I had this type of strudel once, many years ago, when we travelled to my husband’s hometown, and where I met his physics teacher, very nice and kind old lady, who treated us to a cup of tea with cherry and walnut strudel, she was famous for. I believe it was an old family Jewish recipe, but no one can confirm that now.
The strudel had a dry and crunchy pastry, dense texture with the abundance of dry sour cherries, candied orange and lemon peel, walnuts, and had intense aromatic cinnamon flavour. The sweetness was not overwhelming and allowed all individual flavours and textures to come through. I was told that this dry strudel, with very thin pastry and thick layers of dry fruits and nuts, only gets better with time and can be stored for several weeks in dry place.
I never even thought of attempting to make this strudel, but after creating the recipe for gluten free Napoleon pastry, I realised that it might be exactly the pastry that is needed for this type of strudel. I tried it first in a reasonably safe version of the strudel – with poppy seed paste and orange marmalade.
It was easy to make, I was happy, more important my husband was very happy, and since then, I always had it in my mind, that one day I might be able to reproduce that magnificent strudel. All I needed were sour cherries. Dry sour cherries I bought, were too sweet, and only when I made tart cherry paste by reducing moisture in pitted Morello cherries, I had the type of sour cherry filling I was happy with.
So, this is a recipe recreated only from the memories of the taste we both remember. I am not even sure that I used all the ingredients from the original recipe. It is my gluten free take on the strudel we remember and the taste we like now.
fillings: quantities for one strudel
- 70g mixed peel, finely chopped
- 100-120g morello cherry paste
- 200g lightly roasted and chopped walnuts
- 3+ table spoons of Demerara sugar
- 2 tea spoons of ground cinnamon
- 20g melted unsalted butter
pastry (enough to make two strudels)
- 150 g fine rice flour, I use McKenzie’s brand
- 270 g Orgran gluten free all purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 70 g caster sugar
- 10 g vanilla sugar
- 100 g unsalted butter, chilled
- 200 ml full cream milk, any milk can be used
- pinch of salt
- extra egg for an egg wash
- mix 2 types of flour with butter in food processor
- lightly beat egg with sugar, slowly add milk until all sugar is dissolved
- place flour and butter mixture in a bowl, make a well in the centre
- add wet ingredients to the flour mixture and using a knife mix them together until combined
- dust your hands with flour and press the dough together to form a ball
- divide the dough into 2 parts, make flatten disks, cover them with glad wrap and refrigerate for 30-60min.
- on a dry pan lightly roast walnuts for 5 min on low heat, let them cool
- prepare fillings: melt butter, chop mixed peel, mix sugar with cinnamon, chop walnuts
- on a dusted sheet of baking paper carefully roll the dough to a rectangle shape 30-40cm, cut extra dough and save it for later, use flour to dust when necessary, and when turning the dough to the other side while still thick (alternatively use 2 sheets of baking paper to roll the dough)
- place the board with the rolled pastry facing you with a longer side
- spread sour cherry paste on the lower half of the rolled pastry
- brush the upper part with melted butter and use chopped mixed peel on top
- spread chopped walnuts to cover the entire surface of the rolled pastry
- sprinkle sugar and cinnamon mix to cover the portion with mixed peel
- place a sheet of baking paper on top and gently press it down with rolling pin just to make fillings surface flat and even
- turn the board with the pastry 180 degrees, so you now facing the long side of the rolled pastry covered with mixed peel and cinnamon
- start rolling the log, carefully peeling baking paper from the dough (starting to roll with the peel side will place mixed peel with cinnamon filling in the centre of the strudel, and sour cherry filling on the perimeter)
- make an egg wash lightly beating an egg with 2 table spoons of water
- brush top 2 cm of the pastry with egg wash and finish rolling when pastry end sits on the bottom of the log
brush the strudel with egg wash twice, use pastry cut offs to decorate or repair splits in the pastry if necessary
- leave side ends of the strudel open (I have discovered that if completely sealed from the sides, the strudel might split in the bottom during baking)
- use the second pastry disc to make another strudel with the same fillings(double the quantities of all the ingredients for fillings in the list) or use thick orange marmalade and poppy seed paste to make a different one.
- preheat fan forced oven to 180 degrees, bake the strudel in preheated oven for 15 min, change temperature setting to 160 degrees, and bake for another 45 min
- in the middle of baking, take the strudel out and quickly brush with egg wash again and continue baking
The image above shows the look of the strudel during the baking, ready for the second egg wash. Leave fully baked strudel on a baking tray for 10min and transfer it to the cooling rack after that.
When cutting this strudel you have to use serrated knife, an ordinary knife will not cut, but break the pastry. This strudel best eaten well rested for a day or two, when all the flavours have time to fully develop. If you want a softer crust, don’t do the egg wash during the bake.
The idea behind this strudel is to have pastry layers as thin as possible just to keep together thick and intense in flavour fillings of dried berries and nuts. It is very rich, concentrated strudel and you do not serve it as regular strudel or cake. We like to have it with strong black coffee and even a tiny bite leaves a long lasting lingering taste. It takes time to make this strudel, but you have to allow yourself time to enjoy it, too.