For the second installment of my Trisha Yearwood Berry Patch-inspired baking-frenzy, I bring you (cue trumpets…) Cherry Strudel. I mean, come on. Who doesn’t like a sweet, flaky strudel on the breakfast table or for dessert? Have it with coffee or top it with vanilla ice cream, it is delectable either way.
Because pastry is not my specialty, I used a frozen puff pastry. Believe me, everyone eating it was much happier that way. For the filling, however, I used fresh cherries. You just can’t beat the flavor of plump, ripe cherries. I read a trick to remove the pits using a cake decorating tip, and although messy, it worked like a charm. You remove the stems, then press the stem end of the cherry onto the decorating tip and just push the pit through the other side.
This is a pretty simple recipe, so even I could follow it!
1 box (2 pastries) frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups sweet cherries (fresh or frozen) pitted
2/3 cup extra fine granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a small saucepan, heat butter, cherries and sugar over medium low heat until sugar has dissolved. Stir in cornstarch, and continue to cook over low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and allow to cool to room temperature.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, unroll the pastry dough from the packaging, as stated on box, 1/4 inch thick. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
Along one long side of the pastry make parallel cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1/2 inch apart, coming in towards the center of the dough, stopping 1 inch from the center lines. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
Spoon cherries down the uncut center, omitting any non-thickened juices. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.
(If you never learned to braid and are afraid to try it, don’t sweat it. You can simply fold the uncut pastry around the filling. It tastes the same, it just isn’t quite as pretty.)
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid. Repeat with second pastry sheet.
Bake the braid for 25 to 30 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven. Serve warm, or allow to cool. Keep stored in an air-tight container.