Not so strange bedfellows — Apple Cheddar Pie

Apple Cheddar PieMy favorite time of year is finally upon us. Autumn. Chilly nights, warm sunny days, cozy sweaters, colorful trees, the best holiday all year — Halloween — and vegetable and fruit bounties at every farmer’s market. Most urbanites are giving a lot of attention to pumpkin-spiced beverages and foods right about now, but apples never trail too far behind.

Really, who could forget warm apple cider, sticky caramel apples and, of course, fresh-baked apple pie. Picture a flaky crust, tart crisp apples, sweet brown sugar and spicy cinnamon.

What could be finer?

Well, I say you need just one more ingredient to make apple pie better — cheese.

Apple Cheddar Pie before baking

Yes, cheese. Cheddar cheese, to be more specific. When I first present my apple cheddar pie, I usually get puzzled looks from friends and family who have not tried it. Once they lick their plates clean, I’m confident the combination isn’t nearly as crazy as it first sounds.

I admit that it seems strange to add an ingredient that is generally associated with savory to something sweet, but before you crinkle your nose and move on, consider this: Fruit and cheese in their raw forms are not an unusual pair. Surely you have tried brie and figs, grapes and bleu cheese, raspberries and ricotta, and Granny Smith apple slices with cheddar cheese?

These partnerships work well because the fattiness and boldness of the cheeses harmonize with the sweetness and tang of the fruits. Many of these arrangements are common on top of crackers or bread, so, pie really isn’t much more of a stretch.

In this pie, the cheese adds a creamy element and a slight umami background to the charming apple flavor. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a dessert pie with apple and brown sugar as primary flavors. But the contrasting cheese and spices enhance the apples and bring a more complex experience.

The recipe below is very simple. I have also included a flaky crust recipe. If you have a go-to crust recipe you prefer to use, go for it, but I do strongly recommend a non-sweetened crust for this pie. Once you try it, I’m convinced you’ll wonder why the combination ever sounded strange in the first place.

Apple Cheddar Pie

Pie Crust:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces butter, cold
  • 2 ounces ice water
  • ¼ ounces salt (1 teaspoon)
  • ½ teaspoon white or cider vinegar (or Bourbon or Rum)

Filling:

  • 3-4 medium apples peeled and sliced

Note: I like Granny Smith for this recipe, but you can use any tart apple

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1½ cup cheddar cheese, reserve about ¼ cup to top the pie
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoon butter, cut into cubes
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Method:

Pie Crust:

  1. Combine flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into tablespoon size pieces. Add to flour/salt mixture. Break into dime sized pieces with your hands or pastry cutter. Make sure the pieces are fairly flat.Apple Cheddar Pie dough
  3. Add water until the dough sticks together. Start with about ½ of the water and all the vinegar. Mix until the dough sticks together. Add the rest of the water (if needed) 1 teaspoon at a time and mix until the dough is ready. The dough should be slightly sticky and fairly pliable. Do not overwork. You’ll know you’ve overworked your dough if it feels stiff and not elastic.
  4. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes. Roll out as needed.Apple Cheddar Pie dough
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Form crust in pie plate, dock (poke) the dough all over the pan with a fork, cover the dough with wax or parchment paper and fill the pan with pie weights or dried beans (or if you don’t have either, another pie pan can be lightly stacked on top. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.Apple Cheddar Pie dough
  6. Pull par-baked pie from the oven, uncover and allow crust to cool slightly.

Filling:

  1. Put apple slices in a medium large mixing bowl, sprinkle brown sugar and corn starch over the apples. Add the lemon juice and stir until the apples are evenly coated. Next toss the cheddar cheese into the mixture along with the spices and salt. Stir well.
  2. Pour filling into the crust, distribute butter cubes evenly and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes. If the edges of the pie crust begin to get too dark, place foil pieces just over the crust to prevent burning. The pie is done baking when the cheese on top is golden brown and the filling looks thick and gooey.cooked_apple_cheddar_pie

Alyssa Brake with a lambAlyssa Brake

Alyssa is a classically trained cook, a farmer and wannabe homesteader from Colorado. She loves to eat, drink, and constantly talk about those two subjects. Of course, she and I hit it off on the food front immediately. She’s hopping around the US with her husband until they find a permanent home, making new friends along the way and enjoying local food, beer and spirits. In the meantime, I’m really glad she’s here and happy to have another foodie kindred spirit around.