Paleo Apple Strudel without Sweeteners

After the discovery of cooked apple filling for apple pies in a tin, with only apples as an ingredient, apple strudel recipe, grain,dairy and sugar free, started to look as an easy option without additional steps of filling preparation. Relying on previous good results with  crust recipe for the dough (see here and here), I decided it was time to try it in strudel recipe. In order to avoid any sweeteners, including honey, I used organic dates and organic sweet raisins. The reason behind the use of organic produce was the necessity to exclude sulphites, often used as preservatives. Several options for different ingredients were tested. I wanted to make sure that both non-dairy fats – coconut oil and lard – work well in this recipe. I also used 2 brands of coconut flour and psyllium husks. All options for different products are listed in Ingredients section.

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The first strudel was baked with the filling where all ingredients were mixed together. It was served with apple sauce.

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The second strudel had all individual ingredients in the filling organised in layers – dates on the bottom layer, followed by cooked apples mixed with hazelnut meal, and raisins as a top layer.

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It was served with tart apricot and honey jam.

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I did not include xanthan gum as an ingredient, to make sure the recipe would work without it. The resulting dough is very easy to make and use in flat version. However in recipes, where the dough is bent to make curves, good results demand effort and attention. If you do not enjoy baking challenges as much as  I do, and  xanthan gum is not an issue, just add 1 tea-spoon (4g) to dry ingredients. Extensive brushing with egg wash over pastry cracks would not be necessary. But even without xanthan gum, with patience and a lot of brushing (the whole egg was used up in the process), good results could be achieved as well.

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I am pleased to inform my readers, that Well and Good, Melbourne based company, one of my favourite manufactures of quality gluten free products, introduced the new range of Raw Ingredients. I use some of their flour an bread mixes for my gluten free recipes, but the new range, with Paleo friendly individual products, opens an opportunity to use products from this new range to create recipes for this blog, too. Supermarkets also introduce their own gluten free and Paleo friendly products, however, you have to be very careful, and read labels on all new products, as well as new packaging on already existing ones. I will provide only 2 examples from my own experience. Buckwheat flour in Coles own brand does not have gluten free label. I had to return it back after this discovery only by chance before I used it. The same happened to coconut flour, I bought from Aldi supermarket. I presumed that the only ingredient would be coconut flour. It was the first time I saw sulphites as preservatives added to coconut flour. Sulphites are specifically mentioned as ingredients which are not allowed to be used in recipes in this blog. I made special inquiries about the use of preservatives in coconut flour in Well and Good Raw Ingredients range. I was assured that the product  is pure coconut flour, nothing added.

Ingredients:

pastry

  • 100g almond meal
  • 40g coconut flour (Well and Good)
  • 50g raw organic coconut oil/50g pure lard
  • 20g white chia seeds, ground and sifted
  • 10g psyllium husks, ground 0r 10g psyllium husks flour (I used Well and Good)
  • 1 large egg
  • pure apple puree (I used SPC), approximately 50g, add puree to an egg to make 100g
  • alternatively use 2 large eggs, total weight without shells 100g
  • extra egg for egg wash
  • 4g xanthan gum (optional, I did not use it)

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filling

  • 400g Ardmona apple pie filling (one small can or 1/2 of large 8oog can)
  • 100g organic raisins/sultanas
  • 1oog pitted organic soft dates for mixed filling, 150g for layered filling
  • 50g hazelnuts, ground, or 40g hazelnut meal and whole hazelnuts for decoration
  • grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 table spoons sugar free apricot jam (optional)
  • pinch of pure vanilla powder (optional) I did not use it

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I did not use cinnamon powder to flavour the filling, because I did not want to overpower natural taste of individual ingredients in the filling, but feel free to use any spices, or spice mixes you like.

Preparation:

Step by step preparations in photos below show making the dough with lard, 2 eggs, and psyllium husks flour.

Making the dough from coconut oil and egg mixture with apple puree can be seen here.

  • grind chia seeds
  • grind psyllium husks (if using husks)
  • sift almond meal, ground chia seeds  and psyllium husks into a wide bowl
  • mix them together, put aside
  • in another bowl add lard to coconut flour

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  • mix lard into coconut flour (I do it by hand, it can be done with spatula), the mixture will have a consistency of the soft play-dough
  • whisk eggs (or whisk an egg with apple puree)
  • add eggs to a mixture of coconut flour and lard

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  • whisk them together, they will not combine at first

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  • with a little whisking the texture will become similar to a fluffy butter cream

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  • add dry ingredients

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  • combine wet and dry ingredients
  • shape the dough in a ball first

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  • flatten the dough and shape it in a flat rectangle
  • cover the dough with a cling wrap

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  • let the dough rest refrigerated for 1 hour
  • roll the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper, peeling the paper, and turning the dough when necessary

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  • roll the dough 3mm thick (approximately), 30-31cm wide, top and bottom parts of the dough excess can be cut later
  • brush the surface of the dough with egg wash
  • if using mixed ingredients filling, combine apple filling with hazelnut meal, raisins and roughly chopped dates

for layered filling

  • open dates in half, flatten and arrange them in the middle of the rolled dough

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  • carefully mix cooked apple filling from the tin with hazelnut meal (I used spice cup blender to make hazelnut meal, taking out some bigger pieces in the process for decoration)
  • arrange apple filling on top of dates layer

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  • place raisins on top of apple layer

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  • use some apple filling on the sides

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  • if using apricot jam (or any other sugar free jam), apply it on top of raisins

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  • in the process of applying filling, brush uncovered surface of the pastry 2-3-4 times with egg wash, this pastry is very thirsty, it absorbs egg wash quickly
  • using baking paper lift the dough from one side

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  • turn baking paper slowly, allowing the dough to curve over one side of the filling

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  • working with another side of baking paper, repeat the process

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  • brush the top of the pastry edge with egg wash before covering one edge with another

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  • in is better to have 1.5cm dough overlap
  • the cracks in the dough are visible, they are easily repaired by brushing multiple times with egg wash

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  • use pastry off-cuts to cover strudel sides (this bake allows you to exercise not only painter’s, but also sculptor’s skills)
  • use hazelnuts for decoration
  • lightly score the dough, I thought it would help for the expanding air during baking, but it mainly helped in cutting strudel for serving

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  • transfer strudel to a baking tray on the same sheet of baking paper
  • bake in preheated to 140C fan forced oven for 90 min
  • brush with egg wash liberally before, and in the middle of baking
  • the dough will have splits either large

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  • or small

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However, both strudels retained their shape, and the openings in the dough practically closed after cooling period.

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Multiple brushing with an egg wash gave apple strudel an amazing rich colour. The dough was fully baked, both on the top, and in the bottom.

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Baking regime gave identical results for both dough recipes, with lard (photo above) and coconut oil (photo below).

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Cooked apple filling with hazelnuts, dates and raisins provided enough overall sweetness for the whole strudel. Lemon zest and tart apricot jam added extra depth to the flavours of main ingredients in the filling. Pastry itself, even without any sweeteners, still had mild sweet overtones. Mixed and layered filling had their difference only in strudel appearance, but not the taste.

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I personally liked better the layered strudel with the dough, made using lard as fat ingredient. I did not notice any coconut flavour in overall taste of the strudel, but I have to admit again, that I do not like coconut flavour at all. So the disappearance of coconut flavour was an extra bonus for me.  It surprised me how much I enjoyed the taste of both bakes, considering the fact that I do not like dates and raisins in baking products. My husband’s taste is completely opposite, so he absolutely loved these strudels, and savoured as much as he was allowed, before it was packed to competent tester. I will add the verdict later.

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