Apple Strudel - Somewhat Healthified

My friends Jen, Tairalyn, and I love to bake and we thought it'd be fun to see what happens when we take one recipe and approach it three different ways. I like to play with ingredients and try to find healthy(ish) alternatives to traditional ingredients (but you'll have to pry butter from my cold, dead hands.) Jen is a ninja when it comes to substituting healthy ingredients to truly healthify recipes. And Tairalyn is taking one for the team by making the recipes in their full sugary, buttery glory (she really is a saint.) This month we're tackling Paula Deen's apple strudel

Paula's apple strudel sounded absolutely decadent but there was definitely room for me to make a few small tweaks to decrease the guilt factor as I inhaled it for breakfast (what? apples are fruit. Fruit is breakfast. That's called science.)

Paula's ingredients (with my tweaks in brackets):

1/4 cup bourbon or apple juice (I used apple juice)

1/2 cup golden raisins (I used dried cranberries because we are an unapologetic raisin-free -baked-good household)

2 - 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, halfed, and thinly sliced (I used 1 Granny Smith and 2 Royal Gala apples for some natural sweetness)

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed (I used 1/4 cup)

1/2 cup crushed shortbread cookies (I used 1/2 cup ground blanched almonds. If you go this route I suggest eliminating the 2 tablespoons butter* because the almond meal does not have the same absorbency as shortbread cookies. My apple strudel was sitting in a pool of melted butter after baking is what I'm saying.)

1/4 cup chopped pecans (I used almonds)

2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces* (see above note)

5 sheets phyllo dough (I made this dough recipe because homemade dough feels healthier to me than store-bought phyllo dough. I have no idea if it actually is healthier.)

2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing dough

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Glaze (I did not glaze my strudel)

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I'm happy with the result. I'd never made apple strudel before so it was a fun (and frustrating, oh, so frustrating) experience. I can say with certainty that I'm not interested in ever rolling out strudel dough again. I didn't find my strudel lacking in sweetness or flavour (though the shortbread crumbs likely would have added a touch of richness.)

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Check out Tairalyn's indulgent apple strudel here and Jen's wholesome apple strudel here