Inspired from apple strudel, the stuffing I propose has no sugar; the fruit is simmered in sweet wine with raisins and honey. I just sprinkle it with light brown sugar and cinnamon as I roll the pies. If you like the pie sweeter, sprinkle each piece with confectioner’s sugar as you cut to serve.
If you are familiar, or you want to try the traditional Austrian way of making the dough and rolling the strudel on a piece of cloth you can roll one or two larger strudels with that filling instead of four pie rolls. And if you have no quince, use apples, following the instruction for the thinly-sliced, raw apple filing that is used in the strudel.
Makes 4 pie rolls; about 16-20 pieces
3-3 1/2 cups julienned or diced quince (wash the fruit well but do not peel; quarter and cut off the core with the pips and the very hard parts)
2 cups sweet red wine (Mavrodaphne or Marsala)
About 2 cups water
½ cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaf
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup brandy
1 ½ cups almonds, not blanched, coarsely ground
1-3 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs, as needed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, and more for sprinkling
8 sheets phyllo, preferably home-rolled, or thick (#7) frozen phyllo, thawed following the package instructions
Light olive oil to brush the phyllo
About 4 tablespoons light brown sugar, or more, to taste
Confectioner’s sugar (optional)
Place the quince in a deep skillet, add the wine, enough water to almost cover the pieces, the honey, the cinnamon sticks and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, or until tender. They should absorb most of their juices.
While the quince is cooking, place the raisins in a bowl and add 2-3 tablespoons of the hot juices from the pan, and about 2 tablespoons brandy and toss.
Remove the cooked quince from the heat, discard the cinnamon sticks and bay leaf, and add the raisins, the almonds, and 1 or more tablespoons of breadcrumbs, as needed to absorb the juices. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon, add the rest of the brandy and stir well to mix.
Divide the filling into 4 equal parts —each will be about 1 ½ cups.
Preheat the oven to 375 F (200 C).
If you roll your own phyllo fold the large sheet to get a semi-circle, after brushing lightly with olive oil and sprinkling with brown sugar and some cinnamon. Place one part of the filling forming a line close to the long part of the folded phyllo sheet then fold the sides and start rolling, brushing lightly with olive oil to get a long cylinder.
For commercial phyllo, lay 2 sheets of on a clean, flat surface, the longer side facing you, brush lightly the top phyllo with olive oil and sprinkle with some sugar and cinnamon. Place 1 part of the quince mixture forming a line about 1 ½ inches from the bottom and sides of the phyllo sheet. Fold the sides and start folding and rolling the phyllo to form a long cylinder, brushing lightly with olive oil as you roll, to prevent drying and cracking.
Carefully, using a large pastry spatula, transfer the cylinder to the prepared baking tray. Prick the rolls with a pointed knife in many parts, and sprinkle with some of the brown sugar. Continue with the rest of the phyllo and filling to make 4 rolled pies, placing them about 1 inch apart on the baking tray.
Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until well browned on top and bottom. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then carefully transfer the rolls to a rack to cool completely before cutting to serve.
NOTE: When completely cold you can wrap one or more pie rolls with aluminum foil then place in a Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 4 months. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight before unwrapping, and if you like, warm the roll for 10 minutes in a preheated oven.