The stuffing I propose has no sugar; the fruit is cooked in sweet wine with raisins and honey. I just sprinkle with light brown sugar and cinnamon as I roll the pies…
More than a year passed but I still remember the wonderful strudel our friend Martina Kolbinger-Reiner baked while she and her husband, Peter came to Kea. They rented a studio flat in Hora for a week and when we decided to have lunch at a friend’s beautiful garden with dishes I would cook, Martina suggested to make a strudel for dessert.
I am not very familiar with strudels –one or two I had in the past were too heavy with butter and soggy— but I knew Martina’s would be the real thing. I thought that she was going to use frozen phyllo or puff pastry for the casing, but when she brought her strudel I was amazed by its delicate, silky phyllo-like crust. She told me that she made it from scratch, rolling the dough with an empty wine bottle, since there was no rolling pin in the rental’s kitchen and she was quite far to borrow mine. Martina’s crust was not different from our phyllo, I realized, just brushed with butter instead of the olive oil we use. Her stuffing was fruity and light, with apples and raisins cooked to perfection!
The abundance of quince from our two trees was the incentive to re-visit, or rather to get inspired, by Martina’s strudel. Our fruit are far from perfect, some just dotted and others half-eaten by various insects, as we never spray, and our little valley seems to be full of all sorts of hungry critters with whom we share all our crops. Getting rid of the damaged parts in every one of our small quinces was quite a painstaking and time-consuming work; but the resulting pieces we get are so toothsome and delicious! A striking difference from the large, perfect-looking quince sold in the supermarket. Both Costas and I passed hours preparing the fruit, dropping the cleaned pieces in water, before making the stuffing for the pie, and preparing some jars of traditional quince preserves. Unlike most Greek cooks, I never peel the quince. Their skin softens as they cook adding flavor and aroma, unlike the skin of apples that remains tough and slips off as they cook.
The quince stuffing I propose has no sugar. The fruit is cooked in sweet wine with raisins and honey. I sprinkle the phyllo with a little brown sugar and cinnamon as I roll the pie, scattering a bit more on the roll’s surface as I prick it before baking. Fruity and barely sweet these rolls are exactly as Costas and I like them; if you want them sweeter you can always sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar the pieces you cut to serve. Or you can accompany the quince pie with ice cream for a more sumptuous dessert.