A STRUDEL OF PURPLE FRUITS
Keeps: filling only: 3 days
in the fridge
Freeze: unbaked strudel 1 month
Per serving: 260 cals, 50 g carbs
As delicious as it is dramatic, this superb strudel filled with cherries and plums is a winner on the healthy eating front too. With no added sugar, its sweetness comes from the fruit. Toasted nuts and brown breadcrumbs absorb any liquid from the fruit to help keep the delicate pastry crisp. The filling must be cold or it will make the pastry soggy, so prepare it at least an hour and up to 2 days ahead.
350 g (12 oz) frozen dark sweet cherries
1 tsp cornflour
2 purple plums
100 g pack dried mixed berries and cherries, or a similar mix of unsweetened dried fruit
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
squeeze of lemon juice
grated zest of 1 small orange
3 drops almond extract
6 sheets from a pack of filo pastry
50 g (2 oz) ground almonds or hazelnuts
50 g (2 oz) brown breadcrumbs
Defrost frozen filo pastry overnight in the fridge. Drain the defrosted cherries in a colander set over a bowl to catch the juice. Mix the cornflour and a tablespoon of the cherry juice into a smooth cream (save the rest of the juice for smoothies).
Cut the pitted plums into cherry-sized pieces. Heat the well-drained fruit with the rest of the filling ingredients except the cornflour mixture in a small saucepan until steaming. Whisk in the cornflour and bring to a bubble, whisking until the mixture thickens then leave to cool.
To fill and bake, spread the nuts and breadcrumbs on a baking tray and place in a cold oven. Set the oven to 200°C/Gas 6 and toast the mixture while the oven heats up until golden, 5-10 minutes. Cut a sheet of baking paper 45 cm (18”) wide and lay it on your work surface. Count out 6 sheets of filo pastry, then return the rest to the packet and chill or refreeze according to packet directions. Cover the 6 sheets of filo with a cloth to prevent them drying out.
Lay a sheet of the filo on the baking paper and quickly re-cover the rest with the cloth. Starting at the edges – which are the most prone to drying out – spritz or lightly brush the pastry all over with oil, then sprinkle lightly with some of the crumb mixture. Lay a second sheet of pastry on top, smoothing it out with your hands, then brush and crumb as before. Repeat this process until you have 6 layers.
Starting 7.5 cm (3”) from the edge nearest to you, spread the filling in a 5 cm (2”) wide band over the pastry, leaving 2.5 cm (1”) clear at each end. Turn in the ends, then with the help of the paper, roll up the strudel like a Swiss roll. Make sure the ends are well tucked in and the strudel is seam-side down so the filling doesn’t leak out, then carefully transfer the strudel and paper to the baking tray.
Spritz or lightly brush the top and sides of the filo with a final coating of oil. With a very sharp knife, make 6-8 diagonal cuts just through the top 3 layers of pastry to make the strudel easier to slice once baked. Bake at 200°C/Gas 6 for 25-30 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Serve warm.