17 December 2015

A Very Merry Mulled Wine Apple & Cranberry Strudel

Ok top 5 favourite desserts of all time, go! It's hard but mine have to be chocolate brownies (see here and here), cheesecake, banoffee pie, trifle and apple strudel. Phew, it's tough, but there it is, my top 5 desserts. Now I've made most of these, some with varying degrees of success (aka not baked cheesecake: liquid cheesecake everywhere), but I'd never made a strudel up until a couple of weeks ago.

In truth, I've always seen it as that fiddly dessert that's just going to be an absolute flop at home and is much easier to buy from the frozen aisle in the supermarket. I always try to avoid processed foods but  I canny resist frozen strudel and, in the spirit of honesty, fries. That was till I made it, I can honestly say this is the best strudel I've ever eaten and yeah it is a little fiddly but what it takes in effort it makes up for in pure buttery delicious. My boyfriend's brother seemed to think so too and seems to have told everyone how good it was, as I got a text from his Dad the next day asking me if I could make it for him when I see them over Christmas.

I'll be honest, putting mulled wine in recipes has become a bit of an obsession of mine. We're talking strudel, mince pies, sausage rolls (I'm lying about the sausage rolls). I just always seem to have some lying about, in a glass, with a slice of orange, normally in my hand. I don't know how it gets there, but the next thing I know it's in whatever I'm making. This idea actually came from making mulled wine pears, which then turned into mulled wine pear frangipane (Mmmm almonds). Admittedly my frangipane was no way near as good as Dan's mums and that's why this recipe is for apple strudel (#frangipanefail, definitely a hashtag that'll catch on). 

The mulled wine should impart a lot of spiciness into the strudel which is why I've only added a small amount of cinnamon (I'm a cinnamon fiend). Use your favourite mulled wine recipe or use mine (see here) which has every spice under the sun in, it's your call. If you don't like raisins what's wrong with you? Kidding, feel free to leave them out and up the amount of cranberries for extra Christmas flair.  

When I first made this recipe for some friends, I actually made a huge one in the shape of a Christmas wreath which looked amazing and would make a great alternative Christmas dessert. Don't feel like you're confined to the oblong parcel, although any shaping will treble the difficulty rating. As I've said this dessert is a little fiddly as it stands and it takes a gentle hand not to tear the filo pastry into shreds when brushing it with butter, but don't lost heart I am a prime example of a clumsy, unsteady handed being and it turned out alright! 

Give it a go but heed my warning, this buttery pastry it dangerously addictive, once you start eating the crispy bits on top you'll soon be left with just the outer shell of a strudel. Which is totally fine if you're a greedy guts like me, but probably less impressive if you're serving it at a dinner party. Unless it's a dinner party of one. Then you should forget everything I've just said and move straight on to the recipe. 

Mulled Wine Apple & Cranberry Strudel
(serves 6-8)

700g apples 
5 sheets filo pastry
150ml mulled wine (my recipe is here)
125g soft brown sugar
180g butter
75g raisins
75g cranberries
1 tsp cinnamon
1 orange,  juice and zest

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray big enough to lay out one sheet of filo pastry on top and set aside. Place the cranberries and raisins in a bowl of the fresh orange juice and leave to soak. 

Step 2. Peel, core and chop the apples into bite-sized pieces. Pour the mulled wine, sugar and 80g butter into a large saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted, then add the apples and cook for 10 minutes until they've softened but still hold their shape. 

Step 3. Once the apples are cooked, drain them making sure to retain the liquid, and set the apples aside to cool. Then return the mulled wine back to the pan and on a high heat reduce till it's a thick syrup and can coat the back of a spoon and there's about 60ml left. Once cooled set the syrup aside.

Step 4. While the apples are cooling. Melt 100g butter in a clean saucepan on a high heat. Brush the lined baking tray with a little melted butter and  place 1 sheet of filo pastry on top, then using a brush paint the sheet liberally with the melted butter, then place a second sheet on top. Repeat the process for four sheets brushing with melted butter each time. 

Step 5. Strain the raisins and cranberries from the orange juice and add them to the cooked apples along with the cinnamon, orange zest and the mulled wine syrup, then mix it all together till all the apples are thoroughly coated in the syrup. 

Step 6. Spoon the apple mixture into the middle of the pastry and fold the pastry into a parcel. Each time you fold in an edge brush the top with melted butter as this will help the other edges stick to it. Once all folded up, turn it upside down so the seam is on the bottom of the tray, scrunch up the last sheet of filo and place it on top of the strudel for decoration and brush the whole thing with melted butter. Bake the strudel in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown in colour. 

Step 7. Once the strudels done, you can either serve it hot or cold. Personally I like mine hot with ice cream, nothing fancy just good old vanilla. Be warned buttery pastry may send some bakers into a pastry eating spiral. Eat responsibly.

I may or may not, have made extra mulled wine syrup and drank it with prosecco. I would 100% recommend you  do this as well. If anyone has a favourite Christmas tipple recipe (the easier he better) leave me a link below so I can get my cocktail on for Christmas. I can't believe Christmas is a week away, I mean how did that happen? One minute I was loving life at Dinerama's Summer affair the next thing I know it's my birthday this weekend and I'm posting Christmas recipes galore. Speaking of which Christmas Sausage Rolls are happening next week. Be here or be a vegetarian (or vegan). They're good I promise, they've got cranberries in! Drop me all your Christmas recipe links below so I can put on a few extra pounds over Christmas...and comfort eat after getting older. Boo you time, boo you! Have a great week all.

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