Anger Burger

As Easy as Simulated Pie

Posted by Sunday on Jul 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Let us politely skirt around the subject of you being unable to make pie crust from scratch and instead focus on the positive: there are alternative methods to getting pie into your piehole.

Mike the Viking’s mom gave me a copy of a recipe from the April 2009 issue of Cuisine at Home magazine, a magazine I thought I’d really hate but I’ve snagged some surprisingly good ideas from.  It can be a little tiny bit Remedial Math at times, but it’s heart seems to be in the right place, and occasionally they bust out total show-stoppers like this one or the peanut butter bread.

Anyway: phyllo dough pie crust.  Oh man, this is a corker of an idea.  Astonishing!  It’s so ridiculously easy I’m ashamed of it and turned on by it all at the same time.  It was a slow burn, too.  At first I was all, meh, okay.  Sure.  And then the true gravity of the idea pressed down on me.

It really is nothing more than:

  • Don’t even bother with a bottom crust, just dump the filling into a pie pan.
  • For the crust, brush sheets of phyllo dough with butter, sprinkle them with sugar and then roll them into sloppy tubes.  Sprial these tubes around in circles to cover the top of the pie.
  • The circle part isn’t important, you can do whatever structure you want — lattice maybe?!
  • Brush top with more butter and sugar, bake for an hour.
  • Revel at the madness of it all.

The result is everything you want in a pie, minus the part where you have to make pie crust.  It’s buttery, crispy and flaky and the worst part of the whole process is having to wash butter out of your pastry brush afterward.  A box of phyllo should never run more than $5 and makes four pies.  The total fat content is 1/4 of a normal pie crust.  The phyllo cannot be ruined by heat or humidity.

Do you see where I’m going with this?  I’m not saying it’s better than traditional pie, but fucking hell, you guys.  I mean, honestly the single downside is that the phyllo gets soft by the next day.  I mean, I guess it’s a downside; I just told you you’d have to eat the whole thing in one day.

Phyllo-Crust Pie
any fruit filling will work for this pie, though the recipe from the magazine is for a rhubarb-apple pie.  i’ve listed my version of that recipe below, but really: replace it with any fruit pie recipe of your choice.  a note about phyllo: if you’ve never worked with it, be prepared to be amazed and horrified.  it is thinner than tissue paper and somewhat of a bitch to work with, but as long as you keep a sheet of plastic wrap securely over your working pile (they suggest a damp towel, but in my experience unless the towel is BARELY DAMP AT ALL you’ll end up with the top sheet of phyllo dough ruined and stuck to the towel) and remember that it doesn’t really matter what it looks like, then you’ll do fine.  oh!  and phyllo is found in the freezer section of your grocery store, next to the frozen pie crusts.

for the filling:
6 cups (about 1 3/4 lb.) chopped rhubarb
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. instant tapioca pearls
2 Tbsp orange juice (or any fruit juice you have in the fridge)

for the phyllo:
10 sheets phyllo
6 Tbsp butter, melted
granulated sugar

  • About an hour or so before you begin, remove one sleeve of phyllo dough from the freezer and set it on the counter to thaw.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the rhubarb, apples, brown sugar and tapioca.  Let it sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to redistribute the sugar and juices.  When the 15 minutes are up, dump the fruit into a 9- or 10-inch pie pan.
  • Heat oven to 325°.
  • Unroll the phyllo on it’s sheet of plastic, but don’t remove it from it.  Have a sheet of plastic wrap standing by to drape over the top of the phyllo when you’re not directly pulling a sheet off.  Don’t let the stack be exposed to air any longer than necessary – it will suddenly and irreversibly dry out if you do.  Brush the sheets of phyllo, one at a time, with a little butter.  Not a lot, just enough to more-or-less get it all over.  It’s better to have too little than too much butter on it.  Sprinkle each sheet with sugar (about a spoonful, no more) and then roll the phyllo up into a fairly loose tube.  Do not worry about appearances, it really doesn’t matter.
  • Place these tubes as you make them onto the pie filling, in whatever pattern you’d like.  Spiraling them around seems easiest.  When done, brush the top of the phyllo business with any remaining butter and then sprinkle with another few spoonfuls of sugar.
  • Bake pie until bubbling around the edges and when the phyllo has turned a deep, lovely golden brown, about 1 hour.
  • Eat all of it within 24 hours or you’ll turn into a Gremlin.
July 23rd, 2011 | Make It So

13 Responses to As Easy as Simulated Pie

  1. Lora says:

    What a great idea!

  2. Kristina says:

    Hmmmmmmmmmm, great idea and one could add finely chopped nuts to the phyllo tubes for a nut crust. This goes on the to-make list.

    • Sunday says:

      Yes, nuts! The original recipe called for sliced almonds to be sprinkled over the top of the crust before baking, but I was all, why over the top? Why not inside? I think ground nuts in the crust would be an epic surprise. Especially to someone who is allergic to them.

  3. Stephanie says:

    I totally said out loud to myself “holy sh*t” when reading this. There is now no excuse to ever go without pie! I am going to use this idea to make easy pot pies too.

  4. kristin says:

    This looks and sounds delicious! I must try it!

  5. James says:

    What would happen if one were to use phyllo dough for the bottom crust?

    • Sunday says:

      It would never crisp up – there’s just too much liquid in the filling, and phyllo is so sensitive that it’d turn to mush. You MIGHT be able to stave off the liquid tide by really coating the phyllo with butter to keep it from absorbing pie liquid, but even the steam of the cooling pie would soggify the bottom crust in record time. The phyllo trick is definitely not a solution if you desire the traditional pie-shape pie slice, that’s for sure.

  6. Jen M. says:

    The pot pie idea with phyllo dough crust literally has me making a grocery list at this very moment, OH MY GOD

  7. BRILLIANT! This is so much more fancy looking and so much easier than a traditional crust, genius idea and i definitely hope to try it out sometime very soon indeed :) love your blog!

  8. Looks delicious! I love this idea!

  9. Elsa says:

    That damp towel tip on the packaging is A VICIOUS TRICK. My own method is to cover it with plastic wrap or wax paper and then a damp towel, which weights down the plastic-wrap-or-wax-paper so it doesn’t flutter off the phyllo.

    This provides a nice buffer for the pastry, keeping it covered and safe so I can work at a nice slow pace, or answer the phone, or rummage around the fridge looking for the one ingredient I forgot, or whatever. It works, I swear: I made ~200 savory phyllo pastries for our wedding, and not one sheet of phyllo dried out on me.

    • Sunday says:

      Jesus, thank you for telling me it wasn’t just me with fighting with the ridiculous evil “damp towel”. And the damp towel over the plastic wrap is an extra good idea, the damn phyllo people should print this on their stupid lying boxes.

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