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This version of the quintessential all-American classic includes a cheddar crust. My dad always sprinkles more cheese over his slice when he eats it. The sharp cheese gives the crust a superior crunch and adds just the right counterpoint to the sweet-tart flavor of the apples. If you want more cheddar, do what my dad always does, or serve an extra slice of cheese on the side. (that's my preference...)
- 1 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1⁄4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1⁄4 lb grated good quality sharp cheddar cheese
- 6 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 large egg
- 5 -6 large tart apples, peeled,cored and sliced thin (such as McIntosh or Cortland)
- 1⁄2 bourbin vanilla beans, split lengthwise or 1⁄2 regular vanilla bean (can be substituted)
- 1⁄2 lemon, juice of
- 1⁄2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 3⁄4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- Put the flour, salt and cheese into the bowl of a food processor.
- Pulse three to four times, until the cheese is finely chopped and evenly distributed.
- Add the butter and pulse three to four times until the misture has the consistency of cornmeal, (It should not be smooth).
- Transfer the mixture to a medium size bowl.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and break in the egg.
- Using a fork, stir the egg into the flour mixture.
- With your hands, knead the dough into a mass, then divide it into two balls, one slightly larger than the other.
- Pat and spread the larger ball of dough into a 9 inch pie plate.
- Place the remaining ball of dough between two pieces of waxed paper, and roll to form the top crust.
- Chill crusts, covered for at least 2 hours.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge at least 1/2 hour before baking.
- Put the apples and vanilla bean in a bowl, squeeze the lemon over them, and sprinkle on the salt, sugar and flour.
- Using your hands, mix the filling thoroughly and pile it into the prepared crust.
- Cover with the top crust.
- Dip your finger in water and run it along the pie plate between the two crusts, then crimp the edges and trim the crust.
- Slash the top crust or cut a decorative shape our of the pastry to allow the steam to escape, and bake the pie on the bottom shelf of the oven for 1/2 hour.
- Lay a piece of foil loosely over the pie, and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling and the fruit is tender.
- Serve warm with, or without extra cheese.