Cheese (Topfen) Strudel

I loved cheese strudel. Strong words, chosen wisely, no typo, past tense. My strudel love affair began in the early days of my culinary training. The Chef would get raw milk fom the farm up the road and tie it in several layers of cheese cloth and hang it behind the line for a few days while it thickened up. This fresh cheese would get sweetened, seasoned and rolled in crispy strudel dough. It was "verboten" to eat anything we could sell but I did get to eat the ends off the long roll. Crispy and not too sweet with little bits of soft dried fruit. I had to be fast to get to them before the Chef did.

But how do I know I loved cheese strudel? There are a few dishes in my life that stand out on a personal note. My Nana's stuffed cabbage, a special salad dressing from Hopkins Inn and cheese strudel. These are dishes I was happy to never make again. The memory was enough. My oldest sister brings up stuffed cabbage every Christmas. Close, but still not my Nana's. Just as much love but still missing that little something. I get a taste of the salad dressing every few years. Again close but not like it use to be. I can close my eyes and still smell that salad dressing mixing in the Hobart. But no luck with the strudel. Never saw it anywhere. Memory would have to suffice.

A few years back I tasted some Quark cheese from the Vermont Butter & Cheese Company. This was pretty close to the cheese we would make from the fresh raw milk. It had a slight tang and very creamy. Time to take the leap and see if I could live up to my memories. This recipe is as good as I remember. Time to take the strudel off the list of things I love so much I won't cook. I still love it I just don't love it in that special way.

Special Note Lyndsey Vonn Olympic Downhill Champion used the cheese to help heal her badly bruised shin. The power of cheese. No lie, check it out. Vonn heal with Topfen

Let's see how this went down in the AgaKitchen.

Cheese Strudel Filling

  • 1 8oz package Quark cheese (try Vermont Butter & Cheese Company)
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins or dried apricots small dice
  • 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons semolina flour depending on how thick the quark is
  • drop of vanilla

Place the Quark in a fine mesh strainer and let drain while you prepare the filling

Put cream cheese in a mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed. Be sure to scrap down the sides a few times

Gradually add powdered sugar and blend

Add Quark to cream cheese and mix

Add egg yolks, semolina, dried fruit and vanilla to cream cheese and mix

Chill while you prepare the dough

Filo or Phylo  Dough

Phylo pastry is a good substitute for the labor intensive and mad skill required strudel dough. Just use lots of butter and follow my little trick.

  • 1 package of filo pastry sheets
  • 1 stick of butter melted
  • 1/2 cup or so of finely ground nuts

Read the instructions on the package about thawing and keeping covered etc..

Layout a sheet of pastry and brush with warm butter. Lay another sheet next to it overlapping about 1/3 of the sheet. Brush well with butter.

Lay another sheet on top of the first two expanding the size of the rectangle you are making. Lay another one next to it covering the first layer completely.

Repeat this until you get 4 layers of pastry. If you skimp with butter it will get brittle and crack.

Sprinkle the ground nuts over the dough. If you look at the small picture above (right side) you can see the overlapping pastry and the nuts.

Add 1/2 the filling along the bottom third and roll like a burrito. Fold the ends in before you roll to prevent leaking.

Place on a baking sheet and into a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until the dough is nicely browned.

Let rest for 20 minutes before slicing. Do not cover any uneaten strudel. Leave it on a cutting board uncovered with a knife next to eat so you can just slice a little piece off when you walk by. Plus the dough will get soggy if you cover it.

I served mine with a hard cider poached pear filled with lingonberries. Awesome!

 Repeat with the remaining filling and dough.

That's it, enjoy and cook like you mean it, G

PS it makes an excellent breakfast pastry