Three slices of a pastry rolled of thin crispy dough
Crunchy cinnamon and spice strudel slices (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Don’t be afraid of the phyllo in these cinnamon strudel slices

Food coverage is supported by a generous donation from Susan and Moses Libitzky.

If you want something special that’s a bit sweet but not too rich, these Crunchy Cinnamon and Spice Strudel Slices are great for dessert or brunch, perhaps on New Year’s Day.

The recipe was developed for a recent phyllo workshop focused on global Jewish cuisine. After the demonstration and tastings, participants made these flaky strudel slices.

Sheets of phyllo, also spelled filo or fillo, are available in the frozen sections of supermarkets or Middle Eastern stores.

Phyllo is very forgiving. Rips in one layer are covered by the next or can be patched with part of an extra sheet. If two sheets are stuck together, just use them as one. You can roll up, rewrap and refreeze leftover sheets.

For a vegan/parve strudel, substitute nondairy margarine.

One tip: Don’t over-oil the layers. Otherwise, you’ll end up with strudel soggy.


Crunchy Cinnamon and Spice Strudel Slices

Makes 6-8 Slices

  • 5 sheets of phyllo dough (roughly 13×17 inches, sizes vary), room temperature
  • Neutral-tasting oil (such as grapeseed, safflower, sunflower or canola), as needed
  • 3 Tbs. almond flour or meal
  • 6 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. plus ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1½  tsp. ground chai masala mix or alternative (see notes)
  • 4-6 Tbs. chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds
  • 3 Tbs. cold butter or parve/vegan stick margarine, cut into 18 equal pieces
  • 1 tsp. sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place sheet of parchment paper on baking sheet. Keep phyllo sheets covered with slightly damp towel and take out one at a time. Place one sheet of phyllo on parchment. Orient baking sheet so the long side faces you. Use a pastry brush to lightly but completely cover top of phyllo sheet with oil. Place second sheet on top. Lightly oil. Repeat with third and fourth sheets. Place last sheet on top, but do not oil.

Leaving a 1-inch margin all around, sprinkle almond flour over phyllo. Mix brown sugar with 2 Tbs. cinnamon and chai masala mix in small bowl. Sprinkle over almond flour. Scatter nuts on top. Fold short side margins in (like rolling a burrito). Space out 6 pieces of butter in a row about ½ inch in from bottom of brown sugar at end closest to you. Begin to roll phyllo dough up from one edge of the long side, compacting slightly as you roll. After first complete turn or roll, space out an additional 6 pieces of butter. Roll again. After complete turn, space out the last of the butter. Finish rolling strudel. Place seam side down on the parchment.

Brush top and sides of strudel with oil a bit more heavily than with the sheets. Lightly score top into 6-8 pieces. Sprinkle with sugar and remaining ¼ tsp. cinnamon. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven. Let pan cool on wire rack for 5-10 minutes, then slice through scored lines to serve. Serve warm or at room temperature. Wrap leftover slices individually in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Notes: For a nut-free version, replace almond flour with breadcrumbs and replace chopped nuts with chopped raisins or dates. Butter needs to be cold to prevent leakage while baking.

Chai masala is the spice mix used to flavor India-style tea. It’s available online or in specialty, spice and Indian markets. I used the Chai is Chai blend from meetmykneads.com, a Bay Area company that donates 100 percent of profits to Jewish charities. Pumpkin pie spice mix or Yemeni hawaij (spice mix) for coffee are good alternatives. Or substitute ½ tsp. ground ginger, ¼ tsp. each ground cardamom, allspice, black pepper and nutmeg, and a pinch of ground cloves.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].