Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas pudding and apple strudel

An excellent way to use up any leftover Christmas pudding. Although, to be honest, I don't understand why there are so many recipes for leftover Christmas pudding - why would you not finish the whole thing? I absolutely love Christmas pudding. I actually bought one especially for this, and for the Christmas pudding ice cream of a week ago, because I wanted to try it out in some recipes. This is a particularly nice creation, and the most successful strudel I have ever made, in that it wasn't absolutely enormous and thus impossible to slice, and hardly any filling leaked out of the gaps in the pastry.

The tartness of a Bramley apple is important here, providing a nice foil to the rich, alcohol-sodden Christmas pudding. I added the zest of an orange, too, because orange and Christmas pudding proved to be such a wonderful combination in last week's ice cream. In fact, I am slightly ashamed to admit that I ate warm, flaky slices of this strudel with a scoop of Christmas pudding ice cream. There are a few days left until I start the inevitable January healthy eating plan, so I figured I may as well indulge with Christmas pudding, times two. 

The contrast between the crispy pastry and crunchy almonds, and the spongy, fruity filling is delicious. Moreover, it's somehow lighter than eating mouthfuls of Christmas pudding on its own; the orange zest and apple prevent it from cloying and the pastry gives a nice contrast in texture. 

It's very simple to make: start by grating a cooking apple (or a couple of eating apples, or a couple of pears, or a quince...) into a bowl. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar and the zest of an orange. Crumble in some cooked Christmas pudding - a couple of large handfuls should do it. Then lay out six sheets of filo pastry, slightly overlapping, to form a strip. Brush each one with butter before you lay over another. Sprinkle with flaked almonds, then arrange the filling along the middle before wrapping the pastry around it. Brush with lots more butter and sprinkle with flaked almonds, then bake in the oven at 180C for 25 minutes. This is enough for six people, with some nice vanilla ice cream.

I'd like to try it with quinces, too, though the single quince sitting in my fruit bowl is being saved for a simple baking treatment, so I can enjoy its pure, unadulterated flavour. I can think of few combinations more festive than quince and Christmas pudding. I also think chunks of pear would work well with the Christmas pudding, flavoured with a little nutmeg. Or perhaps clementine segments and a few cranberries for little nuggets of tartness throughout the strudel. The possibilities are many. I am looking forward to next Christmas.

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