This stunningly easy recipe comes from a wonderful cook and friend, Hristina Minic, who lives in Hobart and harvests and pits her own cherries in the Huon Valley every January. If you’re using frozen cherries, only let them half-defrost before using or they will leach too much juice into the pastry. I used a packet of filo pastry and made three strudels, each of which would serve about four people.
- 6 sheets filo pastry
- 2 tbsp grape seed oil (see Note)
- 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 150 g fresh or frozen pitted sour cherries (see Note)
- 1 tbsp semolina
- icing sugar, to dust
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Place 1 sheet of filo on a work surface with the short edge facing you. Cover remaining filo with a clean, damp tea towel. Working quickly, dip a spoon vertically into the oil, then very lightly drizzle a bit over the filo. Evenly sprinkle over 2 tsp sugar.
Lay the second sheet of filo 2–3cm to the right of the first one, so it makes a border. Oil and sugar the filo as before. Place the third sheet 2–3cm to the left of the first and repeat the oil and sugar process. (The borders on either side will fold in to hold the cherries in the strudel.)
One by one, lay the remaining 3 sheets of filo directly over the first sheet, adding the oil and sugar as you go. Scatter cherries over one-third of the filo closest to you, leaving the borders without any fruit.
Sprinkle cherries with semolina and roll, starting with the edge closest to you and folding in the borders at the same time, so the cherries don’t escape. Roll tightly until the strudel is rolled up, with the loose edge underneath. Lightly brush the top with oil and transfer to a lined oven tray.
Bake for 35 minutes or until pastry is browned and crisp. (Hristina’s trick to tell when the strudel is ready is to press the pastry and feel whether it is crisp in layers; not soft and squashy under the surface.)
Cool strudel completely, then slice and dredge with icing sugar to serve. The strudel will stay crisp the same day. The next day, the pastry will soften, but it will taste just as good.
• Grape seed oil, available from supermarkets, is a neutral-tasting vegetable oil with a high burning point, pressed from grape seeds.
• Look for kentish or morello cherries.
Photography by Alan Benson.
As seen in Feast magazine, Jan 2012, Issue 5.