Invariably, a bite of the perfect fig takes me back to my childhood and the monstrous fig tree at the bottom of the gate of our old country house near Bologna. It belonged to the nearby farmer, with whose children I would spend the Summer, and somehow, every September, I felt entitled to climbing up the low branches looking for the ripe figs, miraculously avoiding indigestion every time.
I developed an allergy to figs the year that one of the girls I used to work with in Milan brought a case of the juicy fruit into the office, where it sat next to my desk for a whole afternoon – I cannot resist what I really love and, in between phone calls and e-mails (wait, we didn’t have e-mail then, maybe faxes?!) I must have ingested two dozen figs and I only stopped because my tongue started itching. To this day, I have to eat figs in moderation before my tongue starts complaining.
But it’s actually strudel I want to talk about today, one of the nicest remnants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The oldest apple strudel recipe dates back to the late 1600’s but strudel didn’t gain in popularity until the middle of the18th century. With a seemingly complex dough and a juicy filling of apples, cinnamon, sugar and raisins it can reach a crumbly perfection.
I have recently found out that the word strudel derives from the ancient German and means “whirlpool” or “eddy” probably because its shape used to be snakelike and not the straight log we are used to.
The following recipe borrows from the traditional but with the addition of Black Mission Figs and toasted almonds for added crunchiness. For the dough, I used the lazy shortcut of puff pastry – we will keep real strudel dough for another blog.
Serve it with a blackberry compote and/or ice cream on of those crisp Autumn afternoons that are already upon us.
BLACK MISSION FIG AND APPLE STRUDEL