Thursday 7 October 2010
I believe in traditions. Mostly, when the air starts to get crisp and the sunsets early.
We have breakfast for dinner. We take pictures out of the doors. We continue knitting a scarf, which was first started a couple of years ago. We roast pumpkins. We have hot chocolate on the patio, cosily wrapped in a blanket. We read written words.
And we make apple strudel.
I believe in traditions that will make our hearts warmer when the temperatures go down.
They surround us with comfort and love.
And this is why I love autumn and winter so much. However, it’s been slightly harder for me this year to find my way through golden leaves and acorns on the pavement.
But as a reminder of why things have to be as such, Anna-Sarah came over and we made a delicious apple, cinnamon and walnut strudel.
Just like we did the year before.
And quite instantly, the whole process of peeling apples, sprinkling them over the stretched dough followed by generous handfuls of cinnamon and walnuts tamed my fear of cold nights.
This time, the cake that so gloriously calls for frosty winds and an amber-brown cup of tea was ready just before the sun went down. And made the perfect end to an otherwise delicious dinner.
A couple of days later, I travelled from one home to another. Landing in London was tougher than I expected. If autumn was just on its way back in France, here things were somewhat different.
And by different, I really mean one thing: rain.
So I decided to make it happen. Armed with a thick wool-scarf and some mitten, I made a pact with myself.
A pact that smelled like grass after a misty day.
A pact that smelled like a piping-hot latte by the Serpentine.
Apple, cinnamon and walnut strudel
Adapted from Claire Clark’s Indulge.
I remember the first time we made this recipe. A perfect day for baking, with rain, wind and even a power-cut.
A year later, it has become our love letter to autumn.
And honestly, who could blame us? Warm and deeply-flavoured, this cake makes for the most comforting thing to eat, let alone to make.
The process involves a lot of dough-stretching, which should not scare you as Claire’s dough is a delight to work with. We always do this in a four-hand style, but I’m pretty confident you could pull this off with just a pair.
That night, we served it with a slightly salty caramel sauce. This one. And it worked perfectly as the filling is not too sweet .
Apple, cinnamon and walnut strudel
for the dough
300g white flour (preferably strong)
one tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
one egg yolk
100g butter, melted to brush the dough
In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine all the ingredients and knead for eight minutes. Dust your work plan with a little flour and transfer the dough on it. Kneading until it’s no longer sticky. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, you can prepare the filling.
for the filling
150g caster sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
a handful of walnuts
Start by frying the breadcrumbs in a skillet with the butter until light brown, then set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the thinly sliced apples along with the caster sugar and cinnamon.
for the montage
Preheat the oven to 220°C
Cover a table with a cotton cloth, and dust the surface with flour. Place the dough in the centre and roll into a 30cm-wide square. Now is the fun part. Using the palms of your hands, stretch the dough from underneath it until it’s paper-thin. Simply work from the centre to the edges, and don’t worry if you don’t manage to get the edge thin enough as you can just trim them later.
Gently brush using the melted butter; then sprinkle the fried breadcrumbs on one half of the dough. Now, spread the apple mixture and sprinkle with walnuts. Fold the uncovered dough over the apples, then roll the whole thing into a long, as compact as you can.
Transfer the roll to a baking sheet lined with paper and brush with the remaining melted butter. Bake for 30 minutes, or until olden brown.