One of the nicest things about baking is that you have the full spectrum of seasonal fresh produce at your disposal to incorporate into your culinary masterpieces, thus maintaining interest year round.
Winter is undoubtedly citrus season.
It is also apple season. There was no way the Welsh in the mid-1800s could have fully fathomed the chemical, medicinal properties of apples (only recently uncovered by modern research) when they coined the phrase “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread,” which later developed into the now famous phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
They were going on years of positive observational experience dating back to Roman times and even earlier to ancient Asian medicine.
Modern science has unveiled many of apples’ secrets and found what makes them tick. Aside from containing high concentrations of many of the B-complex vitamins, in addition to vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin A, apples are mineral rich, high in potassium, phos- phorous, calcium, magnesium and iron.
They are low in sodium, fat and cholesterol. And that is only the beginning.
Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin, which is instrumental in preserving nerve-cell lifespan and viability and preventing age-related diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and other neural diseases such as Parkinson’s. Quercetin also plays a role in boosting the immune system.
If you eat apples regularly, your risk of having a stroke is greatly reduced, according to a 28-year study of almost 10,000 subjects.
Another study by the Florida State University reveals that apples lower the bad LDL cholesterol levels in your blood and raise the good HDL cholesterol levels.
Due to their high fiber content, apples reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 7 percent and contribute to colon health.
Apples are high in polyphenolic compounds, which have been shown to reduce the risk of cancers such as breast ancer, as well as the development of cataracts. They can prevent asthma, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease... the list goes on and on.
Apples are healthiest when eaten fresh with the peel (which contains many of the vital beneficial substances). Instead of peeling them, wash well with soap, water and a brush (to remove the pesticides) and eat them with the skin. But you may vary your intake by including them in various baked items. In fact, the inclusion of apples in your baking offsets many of the negative side effects of excessive carbohydrate consumption.
If you are addicted to pastries, apple delicacies seem to be the “magic” combination, allowing you to satisfy your dessert desires while minimizing the undesirable caloric effects.
Unfortunately, the heat from baking destroys a few of the nutrients, such as vitamin C and some of the B vitamins, but has no effect on the other numerous health benefits listed above.
So while “an apple a day, no doctor to pay” may be good for weekdays, it is nice to round it off with “an apple strudel a week brings a rose to your cheek.”
APPLE STRUDEL Makes 2 strudels For the dough:
✔ 3 cups finely ground whole-grain flour
✔ 2 Tbsp. vinegar
✔ 2 Tbsp. oil
✔ 1 egg
✔ 1 cup (approx.) water Mix ingredients (water last and gradually) until uniform and easy to roll out. You may need to adjust the water as you mix (depending on type of flour used). Divide dough into two equal portions.
For the filling:
✔ 1½ kg. red apples
✔ ½ cup butter or margarine, melted
✔ ½ cup sugar
✔ 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
✔ ½ tsp nutmeg
✔ (optional – 100 gr. raisins, 100 gr.chopped walnuts)
✔ Two ¼ cups bread crumbs Wash apples well, dry and core.
Coarsely grate apples into a bowl. Drain any liquid. Add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg (and raisins/nuts if desired). Divide filling into 2 equal portions.
Roll each portion of dough thin. One side should be the length of the baking tray. The width of the other side doesn’t matter, as long as it is rolled thin. Brush melted butter/margarine over the thinly rolled doughs. Sprinkle bread crumbs on both sheets, followed by the apple filling, 1 portion per sheet.
Roll up each pastry like a jelly roll and place on a greased baking tray. Lightly prick the upper surface of each roll with a fork (to let steam escape while baking). Brush each roll with butter or margarine. Bake at 190° for about 45 minutes until brown. Every 10 minutes during the baking, brush the pastry surface with the remaining melted butter or margarine.
Serve warm, dusted with icing sugar.
Master baker Les Saidel, originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, lives in Ginot Shomron with his wife, Sheryl, and four children. He is CEO of the Saidel Artisan Baking Institute (www.saidels.com), which specializes in training and education in the field of organic, healthy, artisan baking and the inventor of Rambam Bread. He also lectures and works as a consultant in the fields of cereal chemistry, health and nutrition.