My story is not much different from the movie ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.’ I’m an American girl who married into a passionately Greek family whose number one priority was for their son to marry a Greek girl who would make Greek babies and feed everyone. I was a major disappointment for them to say the least. Since making Greek babies was not possible for me as an American, food became the catalyst for me to eventually gain my in-law’s acceptance, specifically, Greek food.
Becoming Greek in the Kitchen
In the first year of our marriage, I spent most of my free time learning one Greek recipe after the next. Food had always been meaningful to me, but with no single dominating culture in my own family growing up, I had no idea of just how important food could be to the preservation of one’s heritage. It was in the kitchen, learning to cook like a Greek, that I began to discover who I was meant to be. I was becoming Greek. And it was through this culinary journey, that my in-laws finally realized that I would not deprive their son of his Greek heritage, but rather, his Greek heritage would become my own.
My mother-in-law soon realized that I was capable of executing all of the traditional Greek sweets that she had always been responsible for making, so she threw in the towel and passed that responsibility onto me. It was a great honor that I continue to relish in, especially during fall. As the weather cools, my Warm spices like cinnamon, clove & allspice are ever-present throughout the world of traditional Greek sweets. Which brings me to this apple butter ruffled milk pie that I am sharing with you today.
Making Apple Butter Ruffled Milk Pie
Ruffled milk pie (galatópita in Greek) is a sweet phyllo & milk pie. Traditionally, the flavor of the milk-based custard is sweetened with sugar & simply flavored with vanilla. But because I love to infuse traditional Greek desserts with flavors from my life growing up in America, I decided to introduce apple butter to the custard for a fall-flavored ruffled milk pie that is truly delicious.
Apple, cinnamon & star anise infused steam wafts from the kitchen, slowly permeating every room in your home with the fragrance of fall – it’s the smell of apple butter in the making. The process of making apple butter is almost as pleasurable as getting to eat it. A sweet, spice-filled reduction of fall’s most beloved fruit, cooking up a batch of apple butter is a quintessential tradition of the season. When combined with buttery, flaky phyllo dough & creamy custard, you get to experience apple butter in a whole new way.
I have made a lot of ruffled milk pies in my time, but this apple butter version is probably our very favorite of them all. The combination of our favorite fall flavors with one of our most beloved Greek pastries is perfectly meant to be. The fact that this ruffled milk pie is one of the simplest pastries to put together makes it all the more wonderful!
Tips for Mastering Ruffled Milk Pie
- For your phyllo dough sheets to have the proper texture, always defrost your phyllo dough in the refrigerator for no less than 8 hours (or overnight). This will ensure that your phyllo sheets will separate easily without sticking together.
- Fold and roll your phyllo dough with a light touch to ensure that the texture of the pie turns out correctly. We don’t want a tightly wound spiral because that will leave no room between the phyllo layers for the custard.
- Make sure you evenly distribute the custard when pouring it over the cooked phyllo. The custard needs to fill in the nooks and crannies created by the phyllo to ensure there are no especially dry spots in your ruffled milk pie.
Bella Karragiannidis is the creative voice behind her blog Ful-filled – where she shares her passion for real food, true health, and living a life with purpose. Bella and her husband currently split their time between their home in Northern California and their tiny studio in Greece, where they have started a non-profit organization to help with the humanitarian and war refugee crises still taking place in Greece. She just received the honor of becoming a finalist for the 2019 Saveur Magazine Blog Awards for “Best Food Instagram” category.
Apple Butter Ruffled Milk Pie
FOR THE APPLE BUTTER:
- 3 pounds 1 1/3 kilo of apples, cored & coarsely chopped (try using a mixture of varieties)
- 1 cup 250 ml water or apple cider (not vinegar)
- 1 large cinnamon stick broken in two pieces
- 3- star anise pods
- 1/3 cup 68g sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves or allspice
- 1/2 cup 100g brown sugar
- pinch of salt
FOR THE RUFFLED MILK PIES:
- 14-16 sheets frozen phyllo dough thawed (*see note)
- 12 tablespoons 170g unsalted butter, melted (use vegan butter or olive oil for a dairy-free option)
- 2 cups 500ml milk (use full-fat coconut or creamy nut milk for dairy-free alternative)
- 1 cup 250ml apple cider (not vinegar)
- 1 cup 200g apple butter
- 1/2 cup 100g sugar (I used light brown sugar)
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar + 1/2 tsp cinnamon for dusting
- 3 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot starch
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup 100g sugar (I used light brown sugar)
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar + 1/2 tsp cinnamon for serving
- Add apple pieces to a pot along with water (or apple cider), sugar, cinnamon stick & star anise. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook the apples for 20 to 25 minutes or until the apples begin to soften and fall apart.
- Remove from heat and process the softened apples with a blender, food processor, or hand blender until smooth. You should end up with about 4 cups of apple puree.
- Return the puree to the pot and set over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, clove (or allspice) and salt. Stir well to combine. Gently simmer the puree, stirring regularly to avoid spattering, until the apple butter is deep caramel in color and thick enough to hold its shape on a spoon. This usually takes an additional 30 minutes.
- Transfer the apple butter to jars or airtight containers and allow to completely cool. Apple butter will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Brush two 9-inch round cake pans lightly with melted butter and line each pan with a round sheet of parchment that is large enough just to come up the sides of the baking pan. Lightly brush the parchment with butter.
- Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a clean surface and brush it with melted butter. Place another sheet of phyllo over the top of the first one and brush with butter. Use your fingers to scrunch up the phyllo long ways, into a loose ruffled strip (it’s okay if the phyllo tears a bit).
- Wind up the dough into a loose, ruffled spiral, place it in your prepared pan. Repeat this process with the rest of the phyllo dough, placing each additional ruffled set of phyllo around the initial spiral to create a large rosette (you should need about 7-8 sets of ruffled phyllo to loosely fill the pan)
- Brush the tops of the ruffled phyllo generously with the remaining butter. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the phyllo is golden brown.
- While the phyllo bakes, prepare the apple butter custard by whisking together the milk, apple cider, cornstarch, apple butter, vanilla, and sugar.
- Remove the pans from the oven and pour the apple butter custard mixture over the spirals. Return pans to the oven and bake another 20-25 minutes or until the custard is set in the center.
- Let the pies cool in the pans for about 10 minutes and serve slices dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Best eaten warm, but leftovers store beautifully in the fridge for up to 3 days (if it even lasts that long). Reheat leftovers for the best experience.
My name is Beth, Elizabeth Evelyn to be exact. A native Tennessean, I was born in the South.
I am the author behind Local Milk Blog.
Local milk is a journal devoted to home cookery, travel, family, and slow living—to being present & finding sustenance of every kind.
It’s about nesting abroad & finding the exotic in the everyday.
Most of all it’s about the perfection of imperfections and seeing the beauty of everyday, mundane life.