*Many of us need a little extra comfort in our lives right now. I know I do. I wrote this post before the election. Before most of us woke up to confusion and extreme disappointment.
I believe in the healing powers of making something good for the people you love. It is important that we all keep our spirits up so we can continue to fight for what is right. For me, making a pie for the ones I love is just the right medicine. The best thing we can do right now is to be the antithesis to hate. Share a meal with your neighbors. Reach out. Help someone. We have so much work to do, but first, let’s share a slice of pie.
So, we went apple picking. When I say apple picking, I mean APPLE PICKING. Between Evan, I and our two bags, we picked 90 pounds of apples! And it was awesome! It was a perfect afternoon. We went for a quick hike, stopped for BBQ and on the way home visited a pick-your-own orchard. We romped with our dog to the farthest end of the orchard and picked our way back to the farmstand. It didn’t take very long until we were both gleeful and tired hauling our bags. We left feeling strong (I carried a 46-pound bag of apples uphill!) and dreaming of all the things we could make.
Did I temporarily forget I work for a produce company? Yes. Does this amount of apples we picked for the two of us make is prepsteaders? Possibly? It is now four weeks later I still have a lot of apples.
There have been many apple projects happening at our house. Our kitchen smells pleasantly of apples all the time. I have chipped away at our supply with pies and crisps. Honestly, we are not complaining.
My favorite dessert of this bunch has been a not-too-sweet apple pie with cheddar buttermilk crust. The addition of shredded cheddar to my buttermilk pastry makes the buttery crust remind me of Goldfish crackers in only the best ways. The cheesy sharpness matches brilliantly with the soft lightly spiced apples. Of course, you could make just any apple pie. Up until recently, I was perfectly happy with a regular apple pie. Never again. This pie is complete perfection all the way. It is the kind of pie where just one slice just won’t do.
I had a couple of revelations while developing this recipe. I had always brushed my fruit pies with milk and given them a sprinkle of turbinado sugar. With this pie, I found the combination of cheddar, buttermilk and the coating of milk caused the crust to brown too quickly in the oven. I also discovered the sprinkle of sugar was overkill with the cheddar crust. I have since thrown these habits out the window. I brushed with a beaten egg and left out the extra sugar. What we have here is pure golden perfection.
I also discovered a way to banish a limp soggy bottom crust. The trick is location, location location. I wanted the bottom crust to be as crisp and golden as the top crust because no one likes a soggy bottom. This pie spends its first 20 minutes baking on high heat on the lowest oven shelf. I will now use this method to bake any fruit pie. The bottom crust is always golden brown, flaky, and crispy. Perfection.
Like a good New Englander, I know that all fruit pies have their place on the breakfast table, but I think the savory nature of this pie is especially well suited for breakfast. This pie was so delicious; we finished it before lunch.
- 2 ½ C all purpose flour
- 1 T sugar
- 1 t kosher salt
- ⅛ t cayenne
- 1 C shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 C (2 sticks) cold butter - cubed
- ½ C cold buttermilk
- 3 lbs of mixed variety apples - I used Cortlands and macs
- 1 T lemon juice
- ¼ C all-purpose flour
- ¼ t salt
- ⅛ t cinnamon
- ½ C sugar
- 1 egg - beaten
- For the pastry combine the first 2 ½ C flour, 1 T Sugar, kosher salt, cayenne and shredded cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer on low speed. Mix for a few seconds.
- Add cold cubed butter. Mix on medium-low speed until the butter is the size of large peas.
- Increase the mixer speed to medium and add the cold buttermilk.
- Mix the dough until it is just combined and somewhat shaggy looking.
- Dump the contents of the bowl on a lightly floured surface. Use a bench scraper or knife to divide the dough into two equal portions. Form each portion into a round-ish puck.
- Wrap each puck in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 400°.
- To roll out the dough, remove one dough puck from the refrigerator remove the plastic from the dough.
- Lightly flour your surface and the dough.
- Begin with a rolling pin at the center of the dough. Roll with long strokes and even pressure. If the dough ever begins to feel sticky or sticks to the rolling pin sprinkle a little more flour on the dough and rolling surface. If the dough begins to feel melty and warm, refrigerate it for a few minutes.
- Roll the first puck to a 15-16 inches diameter circle. Do not worry if you don’t have a perfect circle. You will trim the dough later.
- Fold the rolled dough in half and then in half again. Gently pick up your dough and place it in a pie plate with the corner of the fold at the center of the plate. Gently unfold the dough.
- Press the dough into the pie plate. Using scissors, trim the overhanging dough. You will want one inch of dough hanging over the edge of the plate.
- Set aside the pastry-lined pie plate.
- Peel, core and slice the apples thinly.
- Toss the sliced apples in a large bowl with the lemon juice.
- In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients.
- Using your hands gently toss the sliced apple with the dry ingredients and set aside
- Dump seasoned apples into the pie plate and gently press the apples into an even mound.
- Roll the second pie dough puck exactly like the first.
- Gently fold it in half and then in half again.
- Center the corner of the dough fold on your mound of apples. Gently unfold the dough.
- Following the edge of the bottom crust, use scissors again to trim the top pastry.
- Fold the top pastry over the bottom pastry and crimp using your favorite method.
- Brush the top pastry lightly with the beaten egg and use a paring knife to cut some steam vents in the top pastry.
- Bake the pie on the lowest shelf of the oven for 20 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350° and move the pie to the middle shelf in the oven. Bake for another 40 minutes.
- If your pie looks like it is browning too quickly, cover it with a piece aluminum foil.
- The pie is done when slow bubbles appear through the steam vents. The pie may need additional time in the oven. Check the pie in 5 minute increments.
- Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool at least 30 minutes before serving.