Strudel was served almost every Friday at the Ranch for many years. It was economical: we always had some kind of local fruit, then just rolled out the dough, sprinkled on chopped nuts and fruit, and added lots of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Makes 2 strudels, serving 6
5 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons skinned and ground hazelnuts
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 firm pears* (about 2 ½ cups), peeled and cut into ½ -inch dice
⅓ cup dried fruit, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 package phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions
1 ½ tablespoons butter, melted
⅓ cup thick Greek-style yogurt, labna, or sour cream
Powdered sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350° degrees F.
In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon each of the brown sugar, the nuts, and cinnamon.
In a medium bowl, combine the pears, dried fruit, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar.
Lay out 1 sheet of phyllo, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle evenly with a small amount of the nut mixture. Top with a second sheet, squaring the edges. Brush with butter and sprinkle with additional nut mixture, leaving enough for the second strudel. Top with a third sheet. Place half of the fruit mixture across the short end, leaving a 1-inch margin on the three outer edges. Fold the phyllo over the fruit once, tuck in the ends, and continue to roll all the way up. Set seam-side down on a baking sheet. Repeat with two more phyllo sheets and the remaining nut and fruit mixtures. (Note: Any leftover phyllo may be rerolled, wrapped, and refrozen.)
Bake the strudel for 40 minutes or until the filling is soft and the phyllo is crisp and golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes on a rack.
Make the Brown Sugar Cream by combining 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar and the yogurt, stirring until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Cut the strudel into 1-inch-thick angled slices. Place 2 slices on each plate and dust with a little powdered sugar, if desired. Serve the sauce on the side.
*Don’t use round Asian pears—they are watery when cooked.