Saturday, November 5, 2011

Apples and cheddar, oh my!

Although I've never been the biggest fan of apple pie, I remember when I was a child hearing about pairing it with cheddar cheese and even then I was intrigued.  I couldn't help but put a thick slice of cheese on my pie and pop it into the microwave until it was gooey and dripping down the sweet apples.  What could really be better than melty, cheesy goodness ON TOP of your dessert?!  Come on, it's a no brainer!

When it comes to making apple pie I think I resist going with traditional, all-American apple pie.  Remember my cranberry-apple crumble pie?  I just don't want to make a plain old apple pie because I kinda couldn't care less about them.  So I thought an apple pie with a cheddar crust would be just traditional enough, with just enough of a recipe twist to keep me interested.  I found this recipe for Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust on the Gourmet website.  The smell of the baking cheddar dough is like Goldfish crackers, but then you can smell the sweet apples and cinnamon and it all just works!  I love the contrast between the sharp, savory flavor of the dough and the sweet, juicy apples.  I used Honeycrisp, which is one of my favorites.   They were so juicy, in fact, that my filling probably could have used an extra tablespoon of  flour.  But the dough was so sturdy and crisp due it didn't get soggy, even the next day.

If you're like me and looking for something just a little different, I highly recommend this pie.  Nearly no extra effort if involved, and it makes apple pie just a little more special.

Butter, shortening and sharp cheddar in the crust.
Form the dough into two disks and put in the refrigerator.
Pile in the apples!  
The finished pie, crust flecked with cheese!
Hello, delicious!
Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb extra-sharp cheddar (preferably white), coarsely grated (2 1/2 cups)
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening (trans-fat-free), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 lb Gala apples (3 medium)
1 1/2 lb Granny Smith apples (3 medium)
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

Make the crust:
Stir together flour, salt, and cheese in a large bowl (or pulse in a food processor). Add butter and shortening and blend with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Drizzle 6 Tbsp ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful: If dough doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, 1 Tbsp at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated. Do not overwork dough or pastry will be tough.
Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide in half, then form each half into a 5-inch disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

The the filling:
Put a foil-lined large baking sheet in middle of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.
Peel and core apples, then slice 1/4 inch thick. Toss apples with sugar, flour, lemon juice, and salt until evenly coated.
Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining disk chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Roll out remaining piece of dough into an 11-inch round.
Transfer filling to shell. Dot with butter, then cover with pastry round. Trim edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together to seal, then fold under. Lightly brush top crust with milk, then cut 5 (1-inch-long) vents.
Bake on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 375°F and bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes more. Cool to warm or room temperature, 2 to 3 hours.

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