What is your favorite fall dessert? If you asked me, I would reply without hesitation: strudel. I think there is something magical in its spice-packed filling, beautifully encased by light and fluffy pastry, brimming with seasonal heartwarming goodness. As I work on making and baking it, I am reminded of its versatility and of fall’s amazing abundance. Once done and fresh out the oven, as I cut a slice (or more!), the aroma spreading through the kitchen reminds me that life is great and that I should be grateful – now (at Thanksgiving) and always.
“A strudel is a type of sweet or savory layered pastry with a filling inside. Strudel gained popularity in the 18th century through the Habsburg Empire (1278-1780) It was the Turkish baklava, introduced in Austria in 1453, that laid the foundation for strudel. Gradually strudels with different fillings were created. The oldest strudel recipe is for a milk-cream strudel. It was handwritten in 1696 and the original can be found at the Viennese City Library.”
This vegan pumpkin & papaya strudel is a re-imagining of my family’s beloved strudel recipe, which I posted on the blog several years ago (you can find the version with pumpkin here and with ricotta here) I have simplified the required steps, while keeping the underpinning principles intact. For example, the dough is still sugar-free and yeast based, very economical since originally my family had a very limited number of ingredients at their disposal. I have used homemade pumpkin puree, and the recipe takes this into account in the required time section and the instructions. You can of course use canned pumpkin, if you so wish – even though I think homemade is better and cheaper than store-bought:-)
This version uses Selefina pumpkin pie spice blend in the filling for an abundance of warm fall flavors, gently sweetened by some sugar and by the natural sweetness of the pumpkin and the chopped dried papaya bits, the latter a last-minute addition since I didn’t want the papaya to go to waste 😄 You can use any dried fruits, previously re-hydrated for 30 minutes in water or rum, if you so wish. This last step is not necessary, however, in my opinion, since the dried fruits get “soaked” in pumpkin puree during baking, and become moist and juicy anyway.
I am delighted to collaborate with Selefina, and excited to use their pumpkin spice blend (a mix of cinnamon, ginger root, nutmeg, allspice berries, cloves, and mace, all ground) in this recipe. Feel free to check out their website for a historical overview of the pumpkin spice blend going back to its first formulation in 1934, as well as for more info on the company and its philosophy and values.
Stay tuned for more recipes featuring Selefina spices, and happy baking, everyone 🙂
Vegan pumpkin and papaya strudel
- 1 small pumpkin
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar + extra for sprinkling over the top
- 1 tbsp Selefina pumpkin spice blend
- 1/2 cup chopped dried papaya or any dried fruit of choice
- 2 cups all purpose flour + extra for rolling the dough
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 packet dry yeast
- 1 cup water, room temperature
- 1 tbsp water, room temperature (for the dry yeast)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Wash pumpkin and cut into medium-size wedges. Place wedges on a baking tray and roast in oven for 35-45 minutes or until the flesh is tender when checked with a fork.
- While the pumpkin is roasting, prepare the dough by mixing the yeast with 1tbsp water in a small cup. In a separate bowl combine flour, oil, remaining water and salt. Add the yeast&water mixture to the large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until homogeneous. Let the dough"rest," preferably in a warm spot in the kitchen.
- When done, take pumpkin out of oven and allow to cool down until comfortable to handle. Using your hands or a fork remove the pumpkin flesh and place in a mixing bowl. Add granulated sugar, pumpkin spice blend, and papaya or other dried fruit of choice, and mix until creamy and homogeneous. Discard any dry pumpkin bits.
- Roll the dough on a dry, lightly floured surface with a rolling pin until about 1/4in thin. Spread the pumpkin & papaya filling evenly on top. Note: If you end up with unused filling, you can store it in a container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Roll the prepared dough into a cylinder. Use a knife to make several small incisions in the dough. Place the dough on a baking tray (could be metal or glass tray). Note: There is no need to butter or oil the tray. Using your hands, moisten the top of the dough with a bit of water, then sprinkle granulated sugar on top, as needed to obtain a light and even distribution.
- Place strudel in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. Take out of the oven and cool down. Sprinkle confectioner's sugar on top, if desired. Cut the strudel into slices and serve as per your preferences.
*Disclaimer: While I received complimentary products to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed here are my own.
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