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Grandma Marty’s Apple Strudel

December 19th, 2021 · by Cyndi · No Comments

I have lots of memories of food my mother cooked when I was a child, but her strudel is one of my very favorites. She made it sometimes with poppyseed filling (from a can) and apple filling (from scratch). I made it many times with her and a bunch of times without her.

Just like she did, I used store bought phyllo dough. Because my God who on earth would make it by hand? My grandmother Manci, that’s who. I never did eat her version because she lived across the country and passed away when I was nine. So I’ll name this recipe after my mother, Marty.

I discovered I was allergic to dairy several decades ago and this butter-filled strudel fell by the wayside. I made it a couple times with margarine but it didn’t come out quite right, even when I reduced the amount to tone down the extra greasy taste.

This Thanksgiving I chose to cook the meal for my extended family. My 16 year old asked for apple pie, made with spiced apples. That jogged my memory and I realized my daughter (born long after my mother was gone) had never tasted strudel. It was time to make it again.


Filling (make ahead of time)

  • Apples, 4 lbs of something with good texture and tartness (I used Gala)
  • Sugar, 1 cup
  • Walnuts (raw), 2 cups chopped
  • Raisins (golden preferred), 1 cup
  • Cinnamon, 2 tablespoons
  • Cardamon, 2 tablespoons
  • Nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Clove powder, 1/8 teaspoon
  • Salt, 1/2 teaspoon


  • Phyllo dough. 1 package. I used Phyllo Factory organic with 18+ sheets (ideally you want 21 sheets but some packages have more than stated).
  • Butter. I used Miyoko’s vegan butter. Amount is a guess, about 1 stick. Unsalted is best but I accidentally used salted and it still came out fine.


  • Pot for making filling
  • Baking sheets to fit 3 large rolls
  • Parchment paper
  • Small pan to melt butter
  • Pastry brush (this is a must)
  • Set your oven to 350F



  • Wash apples, cut into quarters, remove core. Do not peel.
  • Slice each apple piece into thin pieces. There’s a range of thickness that works but I like them maybe 1/4″ thick.
  • Put a little bit of water into your pot and turn up the heat to medium (the water is there to keep the apples from burning before they start releasing their own water).
  • Cook the apples, stirring gently every couple of minutes, until they start to soften.
  • Add the sugar, stir well and continue to cook.
  • Add the walnuts, raisins, salt, and spices. Stir them in, taking care not to break up the apples too much.
  • The mixture is done when the apples are soft and translucent but not mush.

Putting it all together

  • Defrost your phyllo according to the package directions. This may include an additional stretch at room temperature. Make sure you plan for this. You can not use phyllo that is the wrong temperature, it will break.
  • Get out your filling. It can be anything from room temperature to warm. You want it to be easy to spread around without damaging the dough. Divide into 3 even parts.
  • Melt your butter but don’t boil it.
  • Now you can unwrap the phyllo dough. But keep a damp tea towel over it whenever you’re not taking some out. It will dry up fast and then it crumbles.
  • Put 3 sheets of phyllo on a completely flat surface.
  • Brush lightly with melted butter, making sure to get the edges. This should be very quick, maybe 5 seconds.
  • Take 1/3 of the filling from one of your 3 divisions (that means 1/9 of the total filling) and spread on the dough. You will not get even coverage and that’s fine.
  • Put 2 sheets of phyllo on top and brush with butter.
  • Use another 1/3 of the filling on top. Aim to even out the strudel so that this bit of filling goes in the holes left by the last layer.
  • Now put another 2 sheets over this and brush with butter then add the rest of the filling, taking care to make the entire product as even as possible.
  • Start to roll up your strudel the short way (the final product will be shorter and thicker than if you rolled it the other way).
  • As you roll it, brush with more butter. Put extra butter on the end so it will seal.
  • Put the roll seam-side down on to parchment paper on the baking sheet.
  • Add more butter on top and on the ends.
  • Use your second division of filling to make your second strudel. Then do the third.
  • Bake at 350°F until the outer layers are brown and crispy. The inside should be fully cooked but can be chewy.


  • Strudel does not keep well. Eat it fresh from the oven. If you plan on needing to reheat it, don’t cook it all the way before storing.
  • The phyllo dough packages from 30 years ago had 21 sheets, which was perfect. The one I got this time around said it had 18 sheets. I put 2 sheets as the bottom layer and that was a mistake. For one, the box actually had 20 sheets. Two, the outer layer cracked. It would be better to put 3 sheets on the bottom and take away sheets if needed from other layers.
You can see that the outer layer needed another sheet of phyllo (I only used 2). This is also parbaked. The ends were terrific but the middle needed more time in the oven.

Categories: Desserts · Food · Recipes · Religion & Holidays · Thanksgiving
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