black plum mini-strudels.

black plum mini-strudels.

Somehow, with all the food and food learning this blog has produced, my favorite thing has been learning how to copycat things that one could normally buy at the store. It’s like a specialized hobby within the more general hobby of baking and cooking. Maybe it’s lazy, because I’m taking someone else’s idea and just trying to figure out the details, but the end result is the same: I get to make my favorite things at home, which means I get to eat them at the peak of freshness.

As you read this, I’m most likely on a plane and my vacation is somewhere on the ground beneath. I am headed home, which is fine: three weeks is a great length for vacation, because you don’t have that pesky “I wish this vacation could go on forever” feeling; you don’t. you start to miss your own life and routine a little bit. I didn’t make all the food things I was going to make for you while here, but that’s okay too, because I did get lots of other things done. This vacation gave me the chance to do what I like to call my Mid-Year Strategic Plan, which is me sitting down with all the goals that I had for myself and this space at the beginning of the year, congratulating myself for the things I’ve accomplished, chiding myself for things I haven’t completed yet, and quietly removing the things that don’t seem like a good idea anymore. I retool the list, add some new ideas (there’s a big idea in there that I think you’ll like quite a bit), and figure out how to get back on track. The geographic break in the action is nice, because I go home with a whole renewed purpose thing (I’m so dramatic today) and the food you see here is better because of it.

black plum mini-strudels.

We made some really great things while on vacation, but they were versions of things we’ve always liked on vacation; a little like a greatest hits. Lots of tomatoes, avocados, turkey burgers, slaws, salads, fish, mangos, chips. We went out a few times, we stayed in lots more. A few great recipes came out of it, and the standout is this one: a copycat from my favorite vacation grocery store, Publix.

Publix grocery stores are bright, clean, well-organized, and have tons of things. They are not located in St. Louis. They are wrong for that, friends, because they make me long for them while here, and I get super sad to leave them. My favorite thing about Publix? the bakery. Shocker, I know, but the smell of a Publix bakery can infuse a joy into your life you may have never known before. It’s like they’re baking with love in there, and they make some beautiful things. Among these are the pastries you see above you: they are called mini-strudels, and they are easily one of the most dangerous things to have in any home. I have made them even more dangerous, because I figured out how to make them just like they do. Potential problems:

  • I can eat these fresh from the oven now versus the less desirable but still delicious “fresh from sitting in the bakery department” way
  • I don’t have to wait all year to eat these on vacation.
  • Instead of limiting myself to raspberry, cheese, strawberry, or apple, I can now have any fruit inside that I want
  • They are so easy, all I really need is a freezer full of store-bought puff pastry, some fruit, an egg, and some sugar, and I’m ready for action.

Perhaps the best thing about this is the quick assembly: they come together no time, so you can have hot mini-pastries for breakfast whenever you want. During our experiments, we fell in love with this black plum version, which is tart and sweet all at the same time, and a nice twist on the regular flavor offerings. Certainly you can use any type of plum, but the black ones, in my opinion, are the best for these.

black plum mini-strudels.

I really want to encourage you to make these with anything you wish: just strategize how best to do it before proceeding. Blueberries, for instance, are lovely in them, but they are round and tumbly so you have to watch them falling out; this goes for most any berry except strawberry, which are large enough to slice flat. Anything else you can slice, like peaches, apricots, apples or pears work well for bundling and tend to stay in place. I’m fine-tuning a cheese filling for these you could use alone or pair with things like the blueberry or raspberry to help them stay put, as well; you’ll see that soon.

 Announcement (for those of you who like to skim-read; we all do it)

Big news: it’s almost my two-year blogiversary. I mark it as the Wee One’s birthday, because right after her first birthday, I embarked on this project. It’s taught me so much about food, provided me a wealth of incredible opportunities, and most importantly, allowed me to meet and befriend all of you. It continues to do all of those things, so this is not the “I’m tired of blogging, I’m done” declaration; don’t worry. On the contrary, I’d like to think I could keep this going forever, because I love it more and more.

But I need a small break, people: the vacation has been a great way to figure that out. And I need to take that break during “real life” and not on vacation because we have loads of things coming up in the next month or so that I have to focus on. I recently became a regular contributor to Feast Magazine (as in the print version!), so my duties for them have swiftly ramped up from occasional online contributor to monthly print contributor, which is way more awesome a feeling than I can sufficiently express in words. Why? Because I love Feast Magazine, and they all know that by now, as I have explained this to them repeatedly. I’m lucky and honored and thrilled to be part of their beautiful publication. Beyond that, I’m working on a larger graphic design project for a client, the largest portion of which will wrap up in the fall, and that’s taking up lots of time at the moment. Finally, I’ll be attending my first ever food blog conference here – the Saint Louis Food Media Forum – and I plan to be really nervous about that. What to wear, what I’ll say to people, convincing myself that everyone knows each other but me…there’s a lot of ridiculous, nerdy things to obsess over with that particular event, and I plan to do some serious nerding out. Probably I’ll fall on something; I’ll let you know.

The Wee One, as always, figures prominently into my schedule: her third birthday is coming up, and I like to go big for that in terms of decorations, favors, and food. This year, she and her tiny friends are old enough for games (yay!) so I’m tasked with making those as well. She’s also starting preschool this fall, so I have all the required obtaining of physicals, purchasing of clothes, and soothing of fears that other mothers do. She’s at home with me, as you know, so she’s never really been around large groups of her peers for any length of time; needless to say, neither one of us are really looking forward to this, but I know she’ll learn a lot, and that’s great. I also plan to meet with her teacher ahead of the school year beginning to let her know how special the Wee One is in relation to her peers; I’m obviously going to be their favorite parent, and I bet they’re looking so  forward to the daily updates they’ll be giving me regarding her progress. I can’t wait until I get kicked out of school.

So my break will only be for a few weeks, if that’s okay. I’ll be back at it sometime mid-August, if not before, so until then, consider it one less thing filling up your reader or email. I’ll still be a commenting fool on fellow bloggers’ posts, because not keeping up with other blogs on vacation is very similar to leaving a full-time job on vacation and coming back to roughly 3,000 emails in your inbox: it’s overwhelming. I’ll be on Twitter and Facebook regularly as well, and if you follow me on either of those, you can see the birthday party coming together bit by bit, which is always a good time. I may need some help. I’ll definitely need some help. Please help.

This is the longest post ever; I’m so sorry. Thank heavens the recipe is a short one. If you need me, you let me know; I’ll be here. I just need to divert the brain power away from baking and cooking and tremendous amounts of words for a tiny amount of time. See you in a few weeks on this space: see you regularly over at Facebook and Twitter.

Adapted from my heart and inspired by the wee strudels at Publix Markets Bakery.

Black Plum Mini-Strudels

  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
  • 4 black plums, pitted and cut into 12 slices each
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
  • 4-5 tablespoons Demerara sugar, for sprinkling

a note before we begin: You don’t have to use lipped sheet pans to make these work, but it helps to contain any of the fruit juice that leaks out. You may notice that I do something I never do, and tell you to line two sheet pans with parchment. This is not so you bake them at the same time: rather, it’s so you can continue to prepare the second sheet pan of pastries while the first sheet is cooking; your puff dough is easier to work with if you do them all at once. Finally, the Demerara sugar makes a big difference here in the texture: you could try to skimp with sanding sugar, but you won’t get that nice brown sugar crunch that Demerara alone provides.

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line 2 lipped half-sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the sliced plums and sugar and toss to combine. Set aside.

Leave one thawed puff pastry sheet in the refrigerator and place the other on a lightly floured cutting board (so you don’t damage your counters) vertically, like the portrait position versus landscape, if you know what I mean. Roll out a few times to seal the folds together; you don’t need to make it too much larger than it already is. Use a sharp, thin-bladed knife to slice the pastry sheet in half lengthwise, then the opposite direction into strips around 2 inches wide, 10 strips total per pastry sheet.

Peel one strip up and away slightly from the others. Top in the center with two plum slices, and fold one side over the top of the fruit. Use a little egg wash in a line on top of the folded edge (a la glue stick), then fold the other side over top of the first side. add a little more egg wash, and press gently to seal. Flip over and place on prepared sheet pan. Repeat with remaining strips (and with the remaining parchment sheet in the refrigerator, when ready), spacing the finished pastries 1 inch apart on the pan. If you’d like some visual aids for putting these together, here you go:

black plum mini-strudels.

black plum mini-strudels.

Once you have a full pan of pastries, use a thin-bladed knife and cut three slits on the top of each; you don’t have to cut all the way through, just make a slit, working gently and using two fingers to stabilize the dough so the insides don’t press out. Using the pastry brush, coat the top and down the sides with egg wash, and sprinkle generously with the Demerara sugar.

Bake for about 20 minutes, checking at the 18-minute mark for doneness. Your pastries will be golden, puffed, and flaky, but not at all dark brown. Remove and let cool at least 15 minutes on the pan. You can serve these warm, but they’re perfectly wonderful at room temperature as well.

I think these are best the first day you make them, but there’s nothing wrong with them the day after: like all things puff pastry, they lose a little bit of the flaky from the pastry and the crunch from the sugar, but they’re still delicious. For guests, serve the same day. Eat your leftovers the next day, storing them in an airtight container overnight.

Makes 20 mini-strudels.

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40 Comments on "black plum mini-strudels."

  1. I’m missing you. Summer is just…flying by. But, these are making me feel better.

    Life needs you. You go take care of life. We’ll all be here when you get back.

    • shannon says:

      i KNOW: what happened to our joint Bouchon-ing? i was thinking about that over vacation, but this summer has really like, been crazy fast. let’s email. because i still have both of our lists of things to make together. we should get on that before life gets nutsy for you.

  2. Brianne says:

    Ohmagahhh, MINI STRUDELS. They had those in the cafeteria in high school, and I just adored them. Like scrounge up spare change from the bottom of my locker so I could get my fix adored them. And now I can MAKE them. You are so wonderful. I’ve heard great things about this place called Publix, and as a firmly rooted northern girl, I’ve never been. The one time I was in North Carolina, they had Food Lion. WHO shops at a place called FOOD LION?! Or the chain in Colorado called King Soopers?! I mean, really. The first thing Publix has going for it is satisfactory nomenclature. I do love the Maine-based grocery store chain; it’s called Hannaford. That’s a nice name, I think. It beats anything I found in the Midwest (Emma may have contrasting opinions since she’s from the big city and now lives in a teeny tiny town). But back to the strudels. They are so happening soon. Then I’ll lace up my Orange Chuckies and dance to *NSYNC like I did when I was 16 (or, you know, yesterday).

    This is the longest comment ever. Enjoy your break and live the real life like a boss, yo. Party plan it up. You’re in PRINT now?! Awesome. SO cool. Congratulations! I knew from the first time I read your blog that you were going places :)

    • shannon says:

      wha? in your high school cafeteria, you say? Your cafeteria ROCKED.
      I have never lived permanently in a Publix area; i’ve only grown up with them on vacation, and i am lucky to have had the experience, because they are wonderful. I’ve heard of Food Lion (that name gets me EVERY TIME), which i could handle, but i don’t think i could ever shop at a “King Soopers” – um…weird. :)
      and, by the way, one of the best things YOU have going for you is that you use phrases like “satisfactory nomenclature.” just saying, it’s one of the reasons i adore you.
      Hannaford is a nice name for a store! very local-sounding, very east-coast sounding, actually.

      best. comment. ever. in all our years together, even though i am partial to all your comments. I’m reveling in the break right now, girl: it’s nice to say “listen, i’ve got to do this” and have everyone not only understand, but be so encouraging about it! makes it easier to do it and not worry needlessly. This past week has been really great: so many minutes extra, it seems, must get taken up by thinking about food, shopping for food, and writing about food. it’s really something. and thank you: you’re a better predictor than i am of my success (i’m STILL surprised more than just my mom reads this), but it’s been and continues to be a really fun ride.

    • Emma says:

      I dunno, I loved the Publix I visited, but I couldn’t get ‘pubic’ out of my head the whole time I was there. Shudder.

  3. A break is always good. And congrats on your new positions! And the wee one will be fine. I put my twins in preschool when they were three and hey didn’t even turn around and say good bye. They were so excited to be with other kids. I was devastated! And relieved. All’s well. And you sound great!
    Oh, almost forgot-great strudel and black plums are my favorite!

    • shannon says:

      thank you, Abbe! and thanks especially for your words of encouragement about my little one: i found myself on the phone with her school the other day mid-tirade over how nervous “she” will be, and how “she” is very clingy and may have a difficult time adjusting, only to realize midway through that i was actually talking about MYSELF. :) i WILL cry, i WILL be clingy, i WILL be jealous when she loves school, but i’ll be happy for her too. mostly, even if i’m a sobby mess, i want her to love it.

  4. Very exciting developments coming up! Congrats on everything – especially knowing your limits! Looking forward to having you back! :)

  5. Dana Staves says:

    Oh, I miss Publix so much! That was my grocery store when I lived in Georgia, and after I moved to Virginia, I developed some major separation anxiety. I love those little struedels, and I can’t wait to try this recipe!
    Congrats to you for claiming the break when you need it! I’ll look forward to reading more from you in August!

    • shannon says:

      oh that’s RIGHT, Georgia girl, you know what i speak of when i lust after the majesty that is Publix. I swear to you these taste so much like the Publix version, only better, because you make them fresh.
      thanks! i felt like it was a good time to have a little pause, and so far, it’s been really nice not thinking about writing posts. sort of liberating. :)

  6. Oh, i can’t wait to hear about your big idea! I love copying things you can buy in the store too..it’s kind of fun to see how well you can do it. I’ve been feeling similarly about my sewing machine lately…yes I could go out and buy something for probably cheaper than it costs to make it, but i feel darn proud when I do it myself! Anyway, these little strudels are totally adorable. I’m a fan of Publix too and wish they had supermarkets like that up north. And congrats AGAIN on being a regular contributor to Feast. I understand why you’re going to be busy in these upcoming weeks, but I’m going to miss you!

    • shannon says:

      i’m really looking forward to the “big idea reveal” myself, too, because i think it’s something most of you will enjoy. it’s a fun project, i’ll say that, and i hope it works in the way that i want it to.
      dang it! sewing was on my list of resolutions this year, because i SUCK at it; i wish you could teach me. i’m a hopeless case, but i’d try really hard. :) you should feel so proud when you make things! i think sometimes that any sort of “hand work” like sewing, or baking, or knitting, etc is really a lost art, because it used to be that basically everyone knew how to sew out of necessity; if you ask me, i think it should still be like that still. i feel a soapbox coming on so i’ll stop before i start preaching about how i want to live in the forties.
      thank you! i’m looking forward to just everything coming up: parties, writing, all of it. plus, i’ll be haunting your own blog, so you won’t even have TIME to miss me. :)

  7. Ashley says:

    Congrats, lady, on being a regular in print contributor! I’m so excited for you!!! And no worries – life needs its due, and you’ll have some awesome stories to tell when you get back. I’m still struggling to find my own routine and get back to blogging (oops, still haven’t done that!). So go win at life and we’ll be eagerly (and in no way creepily) awaiting your return.

    Also…our regional grocery store has similar strudels in their bakery (nothing as tasty as plum, though) and they always lure me in with their flaky, buttery, fruity appearance. Alas, they are such little deceivers because they’re dry, somehow chewy, and absolutely flavorless. Plus they leave a film in your mouth. Ugh. So you’ve saved me (yet again) and I cannot wait to surprise my dad with these (he’s a pastry/baked good fiend). And I also love to try to recreate foods at home. I see it and think “I could totally do that, but (insert appropriate superlative, like healthier or tastier or cheaper)”. Love your instincts!

    • shannon says:

      thanks, Ashley! I’m thrilled they asked me, and it’s a great challenge to try and come up with the best things for them to publish. blogging is funny like that; like exercise, it seems like twice as hard to get back into it as it was when you initially began, right? it’s all about routine, and you have some big things coming up too *ahem* so take your time!

      the grocery ones, although they mean well, are a little deceptive: puff pastry, when closed up in a box, gets so soft SO fast, and it’s really too bad, because you know they came out of the oven beautifully. I noticed with my own, when stored in a tight-fitting container for more than a day, they did the same, so the odds are against the stores in that way. Best to make them on your own, for sure, since their shelf life is limited. Tell your dad he better LOVE them. :)

  8. I’ll miss you like crazy, but I’ll deal. Good luck with all of your endeavors. This is a lovely farewell offering. I’ll wait patiently (yeah, right) for your return.

  9. Thank you for lifting my heart by posting a recipe for which I have all of the ingredients on hand, and then smashing it into a million pieces by saying that you were abandoning me for a few weeks.

    RUDE!

    Just kidding, I get it, but my heart really did break into like a thousand pieces. I’ll miss you, and I wait with bated breath for you to return. I can’t wait to see what you do for Wee One’s birthday, I know it will be amazing. Maybe I’ll have to fly you and the Wee One out for my birthday next year :)

    And it’s totally true, my trips back east are usually like 10 to 14 days long, and by the end I’m BEYOND ready to come back home.

    • shannon says:

      it’s how i roll: first elation, then utter letdown. :)

      i’ll miss it here too: i figured if i stay hanging out on facebook/pinterest/others’ blogs while i’m gone from my own, it helps with the missing of people. the wee one definitely will get a better party because of it, because i’ll have loads more time to focus on decorating the CRAP out of the house. so there’s that.

      when i was on vacation, my grandpa said to me “you can never have too long a vacation” and i argued that yes, you can. i think everyone has a different tolerance for how long it is they can depart from a normal routine. three weeks is my max-out, i think.

  10. Monica says:

    These mini strudels look gorgeous! Good for you for taking whatever break you need or want! Seems you have a ton going on. Happy upcoming birthday to your little girl. And congrats on being a regular contributor to Feast – that sounds so exciting and wonderful! Enjoy your short hiatus! : )

    • shannon says:

      thanks monica! honestly, i’ve been on a blog break for 4 days now, and what a difference it has made! it’s given me a lot of time to really focus on other things, like parties and deep cleaning, and the garden, and more or less just having fun without constantly thinking of the next project.
      i am SO geek-like excited about the Feast gig; it’s like politely stalking someone from afar and then having them ask you to hang out with them. :)

  11. Deb says:

    Have a joy filled vacation! We will happily wait for your return! I know exactly what you mean, if I had warm Plum Mini Strudels I would have a difficult time eating just one! What a tempting recipe!

  12. Breaks are good. You should enjoy your “break.” IS it a break when you are as busy as you are? Probably not, but still, ENJOY! Also, there is nothing as smart as having frozen puff pastry in your house at all times. Because you can make plum mini-strudels. And really, any sort of mini strudel you like. Or KNOTS! We made puff pastry knots out of the scraps leftover from turnovers at the bakery. YUM!!

    • shannon says:

      I think it’s a break from one thing; that counts, right? because sometimes one less thing makes a big difference, and between overthinking each of my posts and making tremendous messes every time i make food, i’m probably saving lots of minutes per day.
      KNOTS! don’t make me think about making knots. i LOVE anything shaped in a knot. FACT.

  13. Amy Tong says:

    congratulations on your new job! how exciting. Have a great break and I’ll miss your post. These black plum mini-strudels sound amazing and look adorable. Can’t wait to make them. I love re-creating restaurant food at home too. So, I know exactly what you mean when you re-create store bought items at home. ;)

    • shannon says:

      Thank you so much, Amy! i’m very excited, and i promise once this little cloud of busy passes, i’ll be right back to posting, so you won’t have to wait long. :) Let me know how the mini-strudels go if you make them! I love hearing what people do with recipes and how they make them their own. Seems as though we’re kindred spirits with recreating our favorite things at home.

  14. elizabeth says:

    Congrats on the new opportunities! As a market researcher who studied food marketing in college, Publix is one of those chains I know well without ever having stepped foot in one. I would wager, however, that if you came to the NYC metro area and stepped foot inside a Fairway, you may never want to leave: not only is their bakery to die for, but the cheese selection boasts some 600+ varieties.

    • shannon says:

      Thanks, Elizabeth! I would love to have the knowledge you must have about grocery store chains; that’s the sort of thing that really geeks me out just thinking about it. I’ve heard of Fairway! I’ve never been in one, but i’ve begun making a list of “must-visit” grocery stores around the country that all of you have told me about. It’s quite a list, and it’ll come in handy when i travel, for sure. Is it weird to make a fabulous grocery a travel destination? I think not. :)

  15. TINY STRUDELS! Oh my gosh, they make me so happy just looking at them… want, so want!

    Also, extremely jealous of your 3 week vacation… I haven’t even left for my vacation yet, and I’m already dreading the “wishing it would go on forever” feeling (we will only be gone a week, and I know I’m going to be complaining the whole way home).

    Also also, I totally understand needing a break! Blogging is a lot of hard work, and cooking and baking (while seemingly regular activities) can become much more complicated and time consuming with all the recipe testing and photographing and writing, etc. etc.. So congratulations on your blogiversary, happy birthday to your little girl, and you go enjoy a little time off!! It is well deserved, and we’ll all be right here when you get back. :)

    • shannon says:

      tiny strudels FORCE smiles out of people: it’s impossible not to be happy with these little guys around.

      as i type this, i know you’re getting ready to head out on your vacation, and i’m so excited for you! enjoy every minute of your week, seriously. i’m wrapping up the blogging break soon, hopefully: like i feel like it’s been forever but we have been running around like crazy, so time has flown. i’m looking forward to getting back to it, but like you said…the time! the testing! the writing! but i miss it.

      i’ll tell my Wee you said happy birthday: she helped me decorate today and i couldn’t be happier with how good she did. I think she’s super excited for her party this year. :)

  16. Hi Shannon, I found you through your guest post on Willow’s site. Nice to make your acquaintance and congratulations on becoming a regular contributor to Feast!

  17. My gosh, you’re such a busy gal.. and with a three year old as well! Congrats on your writing with Feast.. that’s quite an accomplishment! I love this little snacky pies.. and want to make something like it very soon!! xx

    • shannon says:

      Thank you, Barbara! I’d feel sorry for myself, but i truly like being busy; i took a little break but really missed the cooking and baking and writing, so i’m happy to be back at it. My little one is a big help, anyway: always in the kitchen with me wanting to help, so it’s hardly any trouble at all.
      Everyone loved these little things when we were on vacation; so easy to grab and go (maybe too easy).

  18. Kim Beaulieu says:

    Okay breaks are good. Plums are good. Bloggy birthdays are good. And wee one birthdays are good. Miss you, love you, see you soon. Not literally, although that would be wicked good.

    • shannon says:

      Breaks are wonderful, and necessary; i was happy i called it, because had i not, you would have just not heard from me for weeks b/c there was no way to even get close to the kitchen for blog food during most of august. :) Wee One birthdays are the best. Someday, Kim; someday on my whirlwind visit to the North.

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