Phyllo strudel is made using numerous sheets of phyllo pastry and various fillings. Cooks use the pastry in both sweet and savory dishes, often as an alternative to heavier puff pastry due to its lower fat and cholesterol content. Making phyllo strudel is fairly straightforward and similar to making standard strudel, but the pastry itself can be somewhat fiddly and awkward to use. There are number of tips to remember when making this type of strudel to help you achieve the best results, including limiting the pastry's exposure to air, avoiding tears, and spreading fillings thinly.
Phyllo pastry is available fresh or frozen in packages of many sheets rolled together and in different sizes. Choose the smallest size for your needs because, the larger the sheet, the more unwieldy it becomes. Only buy fresh pastry if you are making the phyllo strudel in the next few days. Keep fresh phyllo in the fridge with the box closed; otherwise, the pastry can dry out.
If you are using frozen pastry, you must defrost it fully before use because the thin pastry is prone to breaking and tearing. Let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Put any unused pastry back into the fridge, if you plan to use it, or in the freezer.
To make the phyllo strudel, first gather everything you need and perform any necessary preparation before you take the pastry out of the fridge. Phyllo dries out very quickly, so you want to limit the amount of time it is exposed to the air. It is also a good idea to work as fast as you can to keep the phyllo in optimal condition. When handling the pastry, make sure that your hands are dry so that the dough will not stick to your skin and tear.
You should brush each layer with butter or cooking spray, both to keep them moist and to achieve a crispy, flaky crust. After removing a sheet from the stack, cover the top sheet with wax paper and a damp dish towel to keep it moist. If the pastry becomes torn, you can patch it up — if you want a perfect-looking strudel, make sure you put another layer on top of the torn one. Only cut phyllo with scissors as a knife can cause tearing.
For phyllo strudel, make sure you use at least six layers in order to make the pastry thick enough to hold in the filling. Leave at least a 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) border around the filling so that you can secure the pastry around it sufficiently. Bake the strudel with the seam facing down to minimize leakage. Make sure that you slice any fruit thinly so that it cooks thoroughly in the same amount of time that the pastry takes to become golden. Brush the strudel with butter as soon as it comes out of the oven for a rich, crispy crust.
Phyllo strudel is best eaten on the day it is baked; however, if you are going to eat it the next day, it is best to keep it on parchment paper overnight, covered with a clean towel. When reheating it, do so in the oven, which helps to keep it crisp. Finally, if you are making the strudel for a special dinner, it is best to have a practice run first, so any problems you do have can be resolved before the big day.