In order to have a successful final product, you need to have plenty of layers of crisp, filo pastry, enclosing a centre of sliceable, caramelised apple. It shouldn’t be runny, at all. The key to a non-soggy filling is the same as the key to crisp pastry: you need something to soak up the liquid from those apples. People use all kinds of things; from breadcrumbs to cous cous. I believe in keeping things simple and I am a purist, so I use raisins. Don’t be tempted to soak them in any booze, or you’ll be soaked in boozy, sticky apple juice when you come to slice.
First, preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4.
Peel and core your apples, chopping them up into chunky bits. You want them in rough cubes of about 1-2cm. Place them in a large bowl with you sugar, lemon zest and raisins. Meanwhile, melt your butter in a pan over a low heat.
Lay a long piece of baking paper (non-stick greaseproof paper) on top of your work surface – here we’re going to build your layers of filo. Star by laying out your first layer out. Brush it with your melted butter. Then, lay on top your second layer so that it is half covering your first. This is simply to make it longer, so it is easier to roll up. Brush this with more melted butter.
Build your layers of filo until you’ve got at least 8-10 layers built up and each brushed with melted butter.
Lay your apple mixture on top your sheets and arrange into a sausage shape near one end. Roll your pastry up around your apples so that they are covered, then tuck each edge underneath to seal. Make sure your seam is on the bottom.
Brush with any remaining butter and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a deep golden brown and the pastry crisp all around. You can take your strudel out and gently lift it up to check if you’re not sure.
Once cooled slightly, dust with icing sugar until totally white. Slice to serve, hot or cold. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream or both. Preferably both.