Yesterday I was playing around with my standard apple pie recipe. I made a crust with cheddar cheese in it and I will serve the warm pie with a hard sauce using a good Kentucky Bourbon. This is my fall dessert to go with my short ribs in buckwheat honey and brown ale. I was at the farmers’ market yesterday and shlepped home some wonderful heirloom baking apples and beautiful green and yellow beans. I also picked up fresh arugula – not the pretty but anemic tasting arugula you buy at the grocery store (Yes, even at Whole Foods!) This arugula has that wonderful peppery bite and will be a good foil for the rich meat, which I will serve over a bed of polenta.
But back to the pie. My mother made THE best apple pie – hands down. Part of it was the fact that apples in those days had more flavor, were local and we got a kind in the East, where I grew up, that I can’t get in Chicago. Thankfully now I have access to some pretty good apples so I have high hopes for this pie. The crust is a bit of an experiment.
NOTE: So now we have eaten the pie and I have a few comments. The crust is not as flaky as the classic Crisco crust I make; however, it was VERY easy to work with and was still better than any store bought crust. The cheddar cheese did not come through as much as I would have liked, so assuming I wanted to try it again, I would sprinkle additional cheese on top of the crust, instead of sugar, before baking. The hard sauce was wonderful with the warm pie, but so was vanilla ice cream.
Lisa’s Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust and Hard Sauce
Yields: 8 servings
Dough for deep dish double crust
2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 Tablespoons finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
about 5 cracks of fresh black pepper
1 stick Crisco baking stick from the freezer
8 Tablespoons ice cold water and 2 Tablespoons plain Greek Yogurt or sour cream
For the Filling
6-7 good baking apples (either one kind or a mix), peeled, cored and thinly sliced – about 3+ pounds
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon strong cinnamon, like Saigon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon butter
Zest of one lemon
half of a lemon to keep apples from browning
2 Tablespoons of cream (you can use milk or soy milk or an egg yolk mixed with 1 Tablespoon of water) and sanding sugar (optional)
For the Hard Sauce – by Ree Drummond
1 stick of slightly softened butter
1.5 cups of confectioner’s sugar
2 generous Tablespoons of Kentucky Bourbon or Rum or Brandy
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, cheddar cheese, pepper and salt. Pulse a few times to mix well. Add the frozen Crisco stick (divide the stick into 16 pieces). Pulse until the mixture is the size of frozen peas.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and ice water until well combined. Pour it over the flour mixture and run the machine just until the dough starts to form a ball. It will seem relatively wet compared to other pastry. Don’t worry! Turn it out onto waxed paper or plastic wrap and divide the dough into two pieces and form two disks. (Make a ball and then flatten it.) Wrap the dough and refrigerate it for at least one hour or overnight. This can be made a couple of days ahead if you like.
- When ready to bake the pie, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Have a deep dish pie plate ready to use. Remove the dough from the fridge.
- On a lightly floured cold surface or on a pastry cloth (please buy one) place one disk of cold dough. Using a rolling pin, covered with a pastry sleeve, roll out the dough by turning the disk in one quarter turns every couple of rolls. Roll from the center outwards. The turning prevents the dough from sticking. If you need to add a few sprinkles of flour periodically, do so, but don’t add too much. Just enough to keep things from sticking. Roll the dough into a circle (more or less) a couple of inches larger than the baking plate.
- Placing your rolling pin at one end of the dough, gently flip up the pastry cloth to force the dough over the rolling pin. Gently roll the dough over the rolling pin and lift it into the pie plate. Gently roll back the rolling pin so that the dough falls off into the plate.
- You should have an overhang of an inch or two. Try to trim it with a knife so it is relatively even. If you can, place the pie plate and dough in the fridge while you work on the filling.
- After you peel the apples, rub them lightly with the lemon juice and place the slices in a bowl with the cinnamon, sugar, salt and flour. Gently toss with a spatula and set aside.
- Take your second dough disk out of the fridge and roll that out to be a couple of inches larger than the first disk.
- Remove the pie plate from the fridge and fill with the apples, mounding them in the middle. Try to make sure there are very few gaps between apples. Dot the apples with butter.
- Carefully pick up the rolled out dough onto the rolling pin and place over the top of the pie. Don’t panic if there are a few minor splits. We can fix that. Fold the edges of the top and bottom crust together and under. If there is too much dough, feel free to trim. You want to end up with a one inch edge that is about double the thickness of the rest of the dough. You can either crimp the dough, pinching it between your fingers or you can take a fork and press down on the dough.
- Make four slits in the top of the dough (try to be a bit decorative) to allow the steam to escape. If you had any splits in the dough, take a bit of excess dough and roll it out thinly. Either using a cookie cutter or a knife, cut out a leaf or an apple shape. Using your finger, wipe water on one side and “glue” it over the cuts. (You still need the steam holes so don’t cover them!)
- Brush with either an egg yolk mixed with one Tablespoon of water or brush with milk or cream and sprinkle on sanding sugar. This last part is optional but it is pretty.
- Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F. Then lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. and bake for approximately 45 minutes more until the crust is lovely and golden brown. Don’t worry if there is some liquid oozing out. If the crust edges seem to be browning too quickly, cover them with some foil or a pastry ring. If you plan on making pies, treat yourself to one. They are not expensive and sooooooooooo much easier to use than foil.
- While the pie is baking, make the hard sauce. It can be made ahead and will keep in the fridge for at least a week. Be sure to take it out of the fridge a few hours before serving. Of making the same day as the pie, just leave it out, covered.
- Beat the butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Carefully add in the confectioner’s sugar and beat on low until it starts to be incorporated. Then add in the Bourbon and whip until light. Put over into a bowl and serve over warm pie or cake or crumbles.
- Remove the pie to a cooling rack. The pie can be cut when slightly warm.
NOTE: If you have any left-over dough, you can roll it out when you are ready and cut out shapes to bake dookies – a name my older sister gave to them when she was a little girl and it stuck (dough cookies). Because this dough has cheddar cheese, I would brush the shapes with a bit of cream and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Otherwise, you can sprinkle the cookies with a bit of sugar or sugar mixed with cinnamon. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 10-12 minutes.