What comes to your mind when you hear "Cheese Strudel" ?
For some people it may seem like something rather scary as this pastry needs those paper thin layers, but it can also be fun if you decide to give it a try and let your fears aside. That is - if you have never baked this delicacy at home.
Imagine layers upon layers of phyllo dough with butter in between them and with layers of cheese nested by the phyllo pastry.
I will post a few pictures so you can see how I make it.
Trust me, the recipes out there are endless and I have mastered mine over time and made it so it does not dry out, but gives you a smooth velvety cheese pastry. Yum.
Even though I chose to use store bough phyllo dough, you can always make your own, at home.
15 oz ricotta cheese which is 426 gr (or farmer's cheese if you can find it)
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (or lemon or lime)
2-4 TBSP sugar (add a little at a time and taste it as you add to make sure it suits your taste)
1 egg, beaten
pinch of salt (1/8 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 to 1/4 almond extract (do not increase or it will become bitter)
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk
3-4 TBSP butter, melted
1/2 package phyllo dough
1 toothpick to poke holes for the pastry to vent
Start by choosing your pan. Mine was a 6.5 X 8.5 inches.
Spray or butter your pan and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Make sure your frozen phyllo dough is thawed.
Choose a medium size bowl and place the ricotta cheese in it, along with the egg, zest, salt, vanilla and almond extracts and a bit of the sugar.
Use your whisk of an electric mixer to combine until a smooth paste forms.
Taste it and add more sugar if you wish.
One good thing to have in mind is to count all your phyllo sheets and decide how many layers of cheese you want.
Like for example my strudel had 4 layers of cheese, therefore I needed 5 layers of phyllo sheets.
So after you decide all that and you counted your phyllo sheets, divide the number of sheets by the number of layers of cheese plus 1. Cause you will need to have phyllo at the base as well as on top. Yes? Of course. Or you can choose to be a rebel and just eyeball it, like I do.
Now that you have figured all that out, take those layers and lay them at the bottom of the pan.
Spread some of the melted butter and using a wide spoon, make sure you coat the dough evenly. (You can very well use Pam spray or any other butter flavored spray instead of butter.)
Spread some cheese.
Repeat with the phyllo, butter, cheese and so on until all the layers are finished.
At some point you may run out of butter, in which case you need to use milk. It's ok, nobody will know. And I won't tell.
Now you need to take your toothpick and poke holes in random spots so the pastry can vent during the baking process.
After poking holes, pour the milk and place the pan in the oven (and be proud of yourself).
If it looks wet and you think you have a pool of milk in there, don't worry !
That's how it's supposed to be !
And let it bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden on top.
You did it !
Taste it while still warm and be sure to grab a glass of milk with it !