The other day I was offered some homemade caramel sauce by a friend. Not being an idiot, I of course took her up on her offer, but that left me with the dilemma of what to eat it with! While I was tempted to just get a spoon and dive in, I decided to kill two (three?) birds with one stone and try out a recipe for banana strudel, which would also utilize the rapidly browning bananas on my counter and the half-package of phyllo in my freezer. (I would also have been able to use up the heels of a loaf of sandwich bread, but when I got them out they had already started to get spots of mold, so I threw those out and had to use fresh sandwich bread instead.)
This strudel couldn’t be easier to make– you just toast up some fresh breadcrumbs, add cinnamon and chopped nuts (I used walnuts but pecans or hazelnuts would also be nice), and roll it all up in some phyllo dough. For the record, a package of Pepperidge Farm brand phyllo has two sealed rolls of 20 small sheets each, so I made four strudels with my half-package, which was perfect. (also, if you work quickly you don’t have to bother covering the phyllo with a damp towel in between rolls)
I was originally wary about the lack of sugar in the filling, but the bananas turned out plenty sweet enough on their own– plus the caramel sauce took them over the top, so I had no cause to complain. The sauce really was necessary to add some moisture to the phyllo, which was extremely crispy and therefore just a touch dry– I think in apple strudel the juice from the apples softens the phyllo, which was not the case with my bananas. If I were to do this again I’d consider making a honey syrup to pour over the strudels while hot, like baklava– but then I wouldn’t be able to eat it for breakfast like I did the next morning (at least not without guilt)!
Banana Strudel (from Roti & Rice)
- 4 ripe bananas
- 20 sheets phyllo (the small kind– they should be about 2″ longer than the banana in width)
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs, made from 2 slices sandwich bread
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts, toasted
- Coarse sugar for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Spread your breadcrumbs onto the baking sheet and toast them lightly in the oven until mostly golden. Sprinkle the cinnamon over them and set aside.
- Toast your nuts the same way, until just fragrant. Set aside separately.
- Lay a sheet of phyllo onto your work surface and brush lightly with melted butter. I find that it’s easiest to use your pastry brush to “dot” melted butter over the surface and then spread it around.
- Add another sheet of phyllo and repeat until you have five layers.
- Lay a peeled banana at one end of the phyllo, breaking it apart as necessary to get it to make a straight-ish line.
- Take a quarter of your spiced breadcrumbs and a quarter of your nuts and sprinkle over the banana.
- Roll up into a strudel and lay seam-side down on the baking sheet.
- Repeat with remaining bananas, and brush finished rolls with more melted butter.
- Use a sharp knife to score the strudels crosswise (makes them easier to cut later)
- If desired, sprinkle with coarse sugar for added crunch.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
- Serve warm with caramel sauce or ice cream.