For me, the significant sign of Autumn is the apple strudel: With the crunchy apples from the newest harvest and a very thin crispy crust. A strudel tastes best for me when it comes fresh from the oven and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream… hmmmm… yummy …
For my “East meets West” version, I took the crunchy pears which I freshly bought from the market. I just could not say no to them since they were smiling in a lovely way at me from a fruit stall.
I wanted a creamier consistency for the filling of my strudel, which should provide a contrast to the crispy crust. It did not take a long time for me to get the idea of the azuki bean paste.
Azuki beans have been grown in China, Japan and Korea for thousands of years. The fine paste which is made out of these small red beans and sugar, has a high popularity throughout Asia as an important ingredient for Asian sweets.
I particularly appreciate the velvety consistency and pleasant restrained sweetness of this unique paste. Very quickly I realized that I should integrate the azuki bean paste in my strudel.
As a refreshing complement to the sweet beans, the cranberries with their slightly sour taste were able to build a great balance to the sweetness of the azuki paste.
I was really impressed by the result: The crust was so crispy that it immediately crumbles everywhere at the first bite. The filling was on the one hand buttery soft and creamy because of the azuki paste, on the other hand still had a bite because of the crunchy pears. Further more, the fruity taste of the pears and cranberries gave the sweet strudel a refreshing sour kick.
It was just wonderful! It is Autumn!
4 large firm pears
20g dried cranberries (soak in water for about 1 hour)
200g azuki paste (also called “red bean paste”, Asia shop)
½ tsp cinnamon
Juice of ½ lemon
5 sheets of filo pastry
1 tbsp sugar
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Chop walnuts coarsely and roast in a pan until crispy. Peel and core pears, then cut into small cubes. In a large bowl, combine the pears with lemon juice and azuki bean paste, mix well. Then add the cranberries, walnuts and cinnamon.
- Melt the butter in a sauce pot. Place a sheet of filo pastry on a large piece of baking paper (cover the rest of the sheets with a slightly damp towel, so that they will not dry out). Quickly spread some melted butter. Sprinkle a little sugar on it. This makes the sheets stick together easily. Place the second sheet on it, and also spread butter and sprinkle with sugar. Repeat until all sheets are processed.
- Spread the filling on the center of the dough, leave some free space at the edges. Firstly fold the short sides of the dough over the filling, then the long sides. Place the strudel with the seam side down on the baking tray which is lined with baking paper. Brush the surface of the strudel with rest of the butter and sprinkle the remaining sugar on it. Cut three or four cuts on the surface of the strudel, so that the steam can get out. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Chill shortly and serve with vanilla ice cream.