Cheese and Cherry Strudel

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Serves:
6 to 8 servings
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Notes

Though strudel is a Viennese tradition, the fillings are usually used one at a time. But, when I'm in the bakery trying to choose between cherry strudel and cheese strudel, I always end up buying one of each because I can't choose between them! So here, I've combined the two and it works perfectly, like cherries on top of delicious cheesecake. Strudel dough is something Austro-Hungarians inherited from the Turks (who occupied Hungary for 100 years) but they bake their phyllo dough in layers with stripes of filling where as strudel is always wrapped around its filling. Strudel means "vortex" or "whirlpool". Albert Kumin, the legendary Swiss pastry chef who ruled the White House kitchen in the 1970s, fathered an entire generation of American pastry chefs through his cooking classes. Twenty years later, I still remember the sight of his huge hands gently spinning sugar into near-invisible threads, and stretching a single lump of strudel dough to cover an entire table. Strudel-making used to be a family affair, with all the women standing around the dining-room table, gradually pulling and smoothing the dough until it hung all the way to the floor! I was the granddaughter who inherited my Hungarian Grandmother Elsie's linen table cloths. I suspect they were used less for formal fancy dinner parties (they were to poor to afford to throw them) than they were for pulling strudel dough. And her large family with many sisters was the perfect tool to complete the job. These days, we have smaller families, working moms ? and frozen phyllo dough to take the place of strudel dough. I sprinkle nuts and sugar between the layers to let air in and to make a nice crisp dough but you'll also see recipes calling for toasted breadcrumbs in between the layers to surround the juicy fillings. Roll it up tightly and neatly, as if you are rolling your hair up in curlers!

Ingredients

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces farmer's cheese, at room temperature
1 egg
1 cup sugar, plus more for the top
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (16-ounce) can cherry pie filling
3 sheets phyllo pastry, thawed overnight in the refrigerator if frozen, kept moist
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Find more recipes at goboldwithbutter.com
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and finely chopped

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