The British Cheese Paul Hollywood Pairs With Apple Pie

Putting cheese on top of apple pie may not be as polarizing as pineapple on pizza, but it's not something everybody does and may come as a surprise to those who've never tried it. Still, the practice of cheesing up your pie does date back a good long time, perhaps as far as the 17th century. It also appears to have originated in the U.K., which may be why Paul Hollywood, the doyen of British baking, is a proponent of this practice. As he shares on his YouTube channel, he agrees with the old Yorkshire saying, "Apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze."

Paul's perfect pick for pie pairing is Wensleydale, which may be most famous for its status as a favorite British cheese of Wallace and Gromit. This traditional cheese has been around for 900 years or so and was almost extinct by the end of the 20th century, but its popularity surged due to the inadvertent endorsement from these claymation characters who at one point traveled to the moon and found that it was, in fact, made up of this celestial substance.

The kind of Wensleydale cheese made here on earth, though, has a flavor that's decidedly terrestrial — a little bit sweet, a little bit earthy, and with a slight grassiness that comes from the sheep's milk that's used in its making in combination with cow's milk. It also has some tang to it that offsets the sugary pie filling.

Other cheeses play nicely with apple pie

While Paul Hollywood lives in the U.K. and likely has easy access to Wensleydale cheese, it's not something you're necessarily going to find in every U.S. supermarket. Here, however, apple pie is more typically paired with cheddar of some sort — often something well-aged and sharp, though milder types can also work. Cheddar isn't the only cheese choice for a pie partner, however. Some recipes call for the mildly sweet and nutty gouda, instead, while others call for creamy, tangy gruyere.

Giada de Laurentiis joins Paul Hollywood as another celeb chef who endorses cheese on pie, although she opts for the slightly more out-of-the-box parmesan, perhaps wanting to put an Italianate spin on things. Her apple parmesan pie recipe makes use of this cheese both in the filling and the crust. Even parmesan, however, may not be the most unusual cheese and pie pairing, as Redditors on r/food (the cheese-on-pie partisans, that is) have recommended fontina, goat, mascarpone, and mozzarella as pie partners. Some even suggest sprinkling blue cheese crumbles over the top if you're a fan of strong flavors. If you give cheesy apple pie a try, whether you love it or loathe it, at least you know you'll be in good company.