When the weather gets a bit warmer Dave, JP, our soon-to-be-born daughter and I will head to the beach. There is a good beach nearby at Portobello – ideal for sand castles and with a friendly cafe selling delicious ice creams – and we go there quite a lot. But if we’ve a bit more time we treat ourselves and head further along the coast to Dave’s dream beach at Gullane.
This is not a beach to build sandcastles on because it’s usually far too windy. But it’s stunning. The beach has white sand, dunes and blue waters that stretch on as far as the eye can see. When we drive out and walk along that beach we know it will leave us feeling good; the wind blows all cobwebs away and leaves us knowing we have left the city and come to a beautiful place. Gullane has some seriously famous golf links and that sweep of green abutting the white sands is very much part of the areas charm. But it’s not golf that Dave and I are interested in, it’s what we refer to as the German Bakery. Falko is it’s name and it’s sits quietly on the main street. This cafe-come-eatery is a wonderful find and lunches and teas. It has few tables but we have always managed to squeeze in. Falko lunches are different and that’s part of the point. For instance, my favourite involves a lot of spam, which is something I thought I would never be keen on. And Falko cakes are different too – think slices of large tarts crammed full of layers of deliciousness. Each serving of cake is enough for two, but why share when you can have one to yourself.
And then there’s the apple strudel. This is in a class apart – fruity, homely and oh so big! I’ve almost got stuck thinking about the Falko apple strudel recently and this has finally inspired me to make this Pear and Pecan Strudel. Falko’s strudel is based on apple and a lovely pastry that I suspect they make themselves and I’m sure they wouldn’t approve of nuts, peel, and lemon zest, but I wanted to create my own strudel in celebration of theirs, rather than just a straight copy.
The smell when all the ingredients are in the bowl before they go onto the pastry is one to savour. There is the pear and the apple, but the lemon zest and the peel and the sugar bring it all together. The breadcrumbs are a trick borrowed from a Leith’s recipe. They absorb moisture from the fruit meaning the strudel isn’t soggy.
Pear and pecan strudel
2 eating apples and 3 conference pears – peeled and chopped to cubes slightly larger than raisins.
110g/4oz pecan nuts, chopped
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
55g/2oz crystalised ginger finely chopped or candid peel
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 lemon, zest of
6 sheets of pastry
55g/2oz butter, melted
To serve – cream, custard, ice cream or yoghurt, whatever you fancy
6 – 8
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas mark 6. Put all the ingredients except for the pastry, butter and icing sugar into a large bowl and mix well.
2. Take a large baking sheet and place on one sheet of pastry so it covers the top left part of the baking sheet. Ensure at least a third of it hangs off the baking sheet. Paint a 2.5cm/1” length of melted butter on the sides of the pastry which are on the baking sheet. Then put another sheet of pastry to the top right part of the baking sheet, overlapping the first sheet. The melted butter will help the pastry sheets stick together. Paint melted butter on the bottom side of this second sheet of pastry. Now add a third and fourth sheet of pastry on the bottom of the baking sheet again using the butter as glue.
3. Spoon the pear mixture onto the pastry making a long sausage shape in the middle of the pastry. Keep the pear mixture as tight as possible. Bring up the sides of the overhanging pastry to cover the pear mixture. Then use the top remaining sheets of pastry to top the strudel. Paint the strudel with the remaining melted butter and place in the preheated oven.
4. Cook for 30 – 40 minutes in the oven until lightly browned on top. Let the strudel cool a little before dusting with icing sugar. You can cut off the ends of the strudel to make it more attractive before serving. I don’t tend to bother with this.
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