Apple Cheddar Phyllo Pie is easy to make with some surprising ingredients. It’s not just for Pi Day; it’s for any day!
When I made the Savory Baklava, I dusted the phyllo sheets with Penzey’s Justice and realized that I could dust the layers of phyllo with any seasoning. A whole new world came into my mind. The possibilities are endless.
You might be looking at the name of this pie and wondering about apples and cheddar being together. I will admit, living in California, I have gotten some strange looks and wrinkled noses. My mother, being from New York, grew up with cheese-topped apple pie.
Where Did Apple Pie and Cheddar Orgininate?
According to Atlas Obscura, it’s a tradition that started in England when people in Yorkshire in the 17th century started topping apple pies with Wensleydale cheese, which some consider similar to white cheddar. As stated by The Mystic Seaport Cookbook: 350 Years of New England Cooking, New England settlers brought the idea behind these Yorkshire pies with them, but instead of Wensleydale, they began using cheddar. You see, apples were not as sweet as they are today. Red Delicious apples originated in the United States in 1872, but the cheesy tradition continued. Because very few people had home freezers until the 1930s, putting ice cream on apple pie was out of the question; it wasn’t until after World War II that freezers became commonplace in American homes. So gradually, ice cream became more popular than cheese. However, topping apple pie with cheddar cheese is still favored in the American Midwest, New England, and parts of Canada.
Why this Pie Works
When you think about it, fruit and cheese have been popular on cheese boards for a long time. Why not marry the sweet fruit with salty cheese? Let’s make it even better and add cinnamon to the party.
The issue here is the cheese. Trying to put shredded cheese between thin, delicate layers of phyllo would result in a gooey mess. So the solution is to use dry cheese, powdered cheese. Powdered cheese is not the same one that comes in a box with cellulose – ew! It’s basically granular cheese with whey. It’s the cheese that comes in the box of Mac & Cheese. I used to have boxes of orphaned pasta because I had raided them for their cheese. I no longer have to do that because I keep Cheddar Cheese Powder by Hoosier Hill Farm in my pantry. We love it on popcorn and I put it in my famous Habanero burgers.
Powdered cheese mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg tastes amazing and you might find yourself sprinkling it on other foods.
Phyllo dough is a thin, gossamer dough you might find frightening. It’s not. The secret to phyllo dough is covering the sheets with a damp dish towel to keep them from drying out. You will invariably have some sheets which break, but that’s okay in this application. You can buy phyllo dough in the frozen section of your supermarket.
What I like about phyllo dough, as opposed to rolled-out pastry, is that you don’t have to roll it out. You don’t have to worry about it not being flakey enough. You don’t have to worry about the butter being cold enough or the fat/flour ratio being correct because phyllo dough is already made, it’s already flakey, and the butter is melted.
What is Pi Day?
Pi Day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π (pi). Pi Day is observed on March 14 (3/14 in the month/day format) since 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant figures of π. It was founded in 1988 by Larry Shaw, an employee of the San Francisco, California science museum, the Exploratorium. Celebrations often involve eating pie or holding pi recitation competitions. In 2009, the United States House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day. UNESCO’s 40th General Conference designated Pi Day as the International Day of Mathematics in November 2019.Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi_Day
Pi (π) is a mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, approximately equal to 3.14159. It is an irrational number, meaning that it cannot be expressed exactly as a ratio of two integers. Consequently, its decimal representation never ends nor enters a permanently repeating pattern. It is a transcendental number, meaning that it cannot be a solution to an equation involving only sums, products, powers, and integers. The transcendence of π implies that solving the ancient challenge of squaring the circle with a compass and straightedge is impossible. Pi was involved in the design and creation of the Great Pyramid of Egypt; the pyramid’s height is equal to the circle’s radius, with a circumference equal to the perimeter of the base of the pyramids.
Isn’t Pi amazing? What a wonderful thing to celebrate! Let’s make an Apple Cheese Phyllo pie!
~~ — For the Filling — ~~
~~ — For the Dust — ~~
~~ — For the Crust — ~~
- 12 sheets Phyllo dough
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
~~ — For the π — ~~
- 2 sheets Phyllo dough
- 2 teaspoon Black sesame seeds
For the filling
- 2 lbs AppleIf you have an apple peeler/corer, and it has a slicing function, use that to peel, core and slice the apples. If not, peel the apples, core them, and slice them thinly.
- 1/4 cup Brown sugar, 2 tablespoon Raisins, 1 teaspoon Cinnamon, 1 teaspoon Mace, 1 tablespoon ButterMix the ingredients for the filling together in a large bowl. Cover the bowl and set it aside.
For the Crust
- 2 tablespoon Cheddar cheese powder, 4 tablespoon Cinnamon, 1 teaspoon NutmegMix the powdered cheese, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Taste for seasoning. If it tastes too much like cheese, add more cinnamon. Open the duster and dip it into the powder. Set it aside.
- 12 sheets Phyllo dough, 3 tablespoon unsalted butterBrush the pie plate with some butter. Lay a sheet of phyllo on the butter and push the phyllo down, so it sticks to the pan. Cover the remaining phyllo with a damp dish towel, so it doesn't dry out.
- Dust the layer with some of the cheese mixture.
- Add another layer of phyllo at a 10° angle to the first layer. Push it down, brush it with butter, and dust it with the cheese mixture. Continue turning each layer another 10° until you have gone all around the pie. You will have phyllo sheets left over, which you will need to make the Pi sign.
- Put the filling in and try to flatten the top a little where the Pi is going to go.
- Bring the sides of the pastry up and bend it over the filling, brushing the layers with butter as you go. Some will have dried out, so brush them and then fold them over.
- When that is done, dust the rim with the powder.
For the π
- 2 sheets Phyllo dough, 2 teaspoon Black sesame seedsTo make the Pi shape, use three or four layers of phyllo and cut it with a very sharp knife. Cut two long pieces about 1/2″ wide and 3″ long. Make the top piece about 1.2″ tall and 3″ wide. Separate the cut pieces and lay them in the Pi shape brushing butter on each layer. Finally, butter the top layer and using the fingers, carefully spread the black sesame seeds on the Pi layer.
- Bake the pie at 350 °F for about 30 minutes or until the apples soften and the phyllo browned. Let the pie cool before cutting. Enjoy! Happy Pi Day!