‘Amaretto is actually made from oil extracted from apricot kernels as well as almonds, so it’s not surprising that the flavours in this strudel go so well together. There’s no obligation to make your own pastry, but I can assure you that it’s worth the effort-the results are buttery, crisp and light, and surprisingly easy to achieve’
Apricot strudel with amaretto
For the pastry
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350g plain flour
Pinch of salt
150ml full-fat milk
butter, melted OR 250g shop-bought filo pastry
For the filling
100g dried apricots
400g fresh apricots
75g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, melted
125g ground almonds
50g flaked almonds
Using kitchen scissors, cut the dried apricots into quarters and place in a bowl with the amaretto to rehydrate them. Leave to soak for at least an hour, or up to 24 hours.
To make the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, milk and melted butter together. Pour the egg mixture onto the flour and mix well until everything comes together to form a ball. If you’re using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, this will take about four minutes, but a wooden spoon will do the job just as well. Then, with floured hands, place the dough in a clean bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave to stand for an hour or two at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas 4. De-stone and quarter the fresh apricots. Place them in a single layer in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with the caster sugar. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
Flour a large area of clean kitchen surface or, alternatively, flour a cotton sheet placed over a table-this is the traditional Austrian way. Roll the dough out as much as you can with a rolling pin, and then, placing your hand underneath, gently pull it out further and further, until you have a large, fine sheet you could read a newspaper through. Cut the edges off to make it rectangular.
Using a pastry brush, brush the entire surface with melted butter. Spread the ground almonds out in a thin layer along one of the short ends, then place both the cooked and rehydrated apricots over them. Loosely roll up the pastry, starting from the filled end, into a sausage.
Cut off the ends to square it-if it’s too long to fit in your oven, you can also cut it in half. Brush with melted butter and scatter the flaked almonds over it.
Bake in a moderately hot oven for 35 minutes. Dust generously with icing sugar, and serve with double cream.
More ways with apricots
Cook apricots with the syrup from a jar of preserved ginger. Take two sheets of shortcrust pastry, dot one with spoonfuls of cooked apricots and brush the spaces in between with a beaten egg. Place the second sheet of pastry on top and press down to seal the edges around the piles of apricots to form little pockets. Use a knife to cut out the pockets, and make a small slit in the top of each. The pockets can either go in the freezer, ready to be cooked from frozen whenever you need a speedy pudding, or brushed with beaten egg and baked immediately for 20 minutes in a moderately hot oven. Dust with icing sugar, and serve with ice cream.
For a delicious starter or light lunch, drizzle honey over halved apricots and griddle until soft. Serve with burrata, Parma ham, basil leaves and rocket, with a balsamic vinaigrette.