3 Bosc pears (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
4 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 sheets phyllo dough
2 tablespoons finely chopped toasted almonds
Confectioners' sugar for dusting (optional)
Creme fraiche or whipped cream, for serving (optional)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
Toss pears with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Set aside to cool, then skim the white foam off the surface and discard. Spoon the melted butter into a bowl, leaving behind the solids at the bottom of the saucepan.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pear mixture and cook until pears start to give off juices. Add cranberries, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until pears are crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs; cool the mixture slightly.
Combine remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar with allspice and ginger in a small bowl. Cut a piece of parchment paper slightly longer than the phyllo sheets and lay it with a long edge parallel to you. Set the stack of phyllo sheets beside it and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Transfer one sheet of phyllo to the parchment with a long edge facing you. Brush with some reserved butter and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon each of the nuts and sugar mixture. Repeat with each remaining phyllo, replacing the towel as you work. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons bread crumbs over top sheet of phyllo.
Spoon the pear mixture across the phyllo about 1 inch from the edge closest to you to make a mound, with a 2-inch border at each end. Using the parchment to help you get started, roll the phyllo tightly over the filling to make a log, seam-side down. Lift the parchment with the strudel onto a baking sheet.
Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer on the baking sheet to a rack to cool. Trim ends with a serrated knife. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve warm or at room temperature with creme fraiche or whipped cream, if desired.
Style: Cut the strudel into thirds, then cut each one of the pieces in half on an angle. This way, you get beautiful portions that stand at attention, showing off the layers and the filling.
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