Breads, Desserts, Sweet Snacks

Apple Braid (aka Braided Apple Strudel)

for the pastry
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, diced
6 tablespoons (or more) ice water

for the filling
3 pounds baking apples, cored, peeled and cut to thin slices
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, with a tablespoon of water for egg wash
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Blend flour, sugar and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening and cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 6 tablespoons ice water and process until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather into ball, and flatten into a rectangular disk. Wrap in plastic and chill 2 hours.

While the dough is chilling, make your filling. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apple slices and sauté for a few minutes until them become tender. Add the sugar, spices and salt and continue to sauté until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the pastry sheet into a 16×12-inch rectangle. Move to the baking sheet. Leaving a 5 1/2/ inch center column, cut slits 1 inch apart from the 2 sides of the pastry rectangle. Spoon the apple mixture lengthwise down the center of the pastry. Starting at one end, fold the pastry strips over the apple mixture, alternating sides, to cover it completely. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture. Sprinkle with the coarse sugar. (Note: some people do this on the counter and then move the braid to the baking sheet, but I have never managed to do that, so I just do the assembly on the prepared baking sheet so I don’t have to move it.)

Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let the pastry cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving (optional). Serve as is or with vanilla sauce or ice cream (cinnamon is great).

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