Last year I took a very fun week-long cooking class outside Albuquerque to learn more about authentic New Mexican and Mexican cooking. Like many classes like this, it kicked off with a group dinner so we could all meet each other. One of the other attendees ordered dessert for her appetizer and then had her entrée with the rest of us. I knew immediately we would get along.
So how did it happen that this is my first dessert posting after a month of blogging?! As my friends and family know, I LOVE dessert and have been known to eat dessert for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the same day.
At one point (many years and a few pounds ago) I was buying a cake every week and eating the entire thing by myself. You’ve seen them, the cakes that have all that lovely piped icing, all ready for someone to write Happy Birthday on it. Every week, the cheerfully helpful cashier would ask if I wanted to have the bakery write something on it. It was getting embarrassing, because let’s face it, no one has THAT many friends with birthdays EVERY WEEK. But, not willing to give up my sugar fix, I just tried to remember the face of the cashier so that I wouldn’t get in her line the following week. The following week, I’d leave my cart to walk where I could see down the line of cashiers to pick one I hadn’t used lately. Then I’d buy that gorgeously fluffy new cake, take it home and eat it. Clearly I needed a 12-step program.
I love dessert in all its forms – cold or hot. But this time of year, I really crave the comfort desserts of my childhood: apple pies and cobblers. This apple pie is one of my favorites since it’s made with a cheddar crust. I love putting a little cheese in the crust of fruit pies since fruit and cheese are such great partners. At some point I’ll post a pear pie I make with blue cheese in the crust. Later this week, I’ll do a separate posting for more details with step by step photos of making any crust along with tips. Making your own crust is a lot easier than you might think! Today I’m just including the description of the steps.
If you comment on this post, I’d love to hear what kind of dessert you crave this time of year.
A Few Cooking Notes:
I highly recommend weighing flour when baking. It’s much more accurate than measuring it out in a measuring cup. If you bake much at all, a digital scale may be the best thing you buy this year. If you don’t have one (yet), I assume that 1 cup equals 4.5 ounces. To measure flour with a measuring cup, first fluff the flour with a fork and then spoon the flour into the cup. The dipping method, which I used for many years, packs more flour into a recipe than either the weighing or fluffing/spooning methods, and trust me, you will taste the difference.
I like King Arthur flour for its consistency.
If you’re not using Kosher salt, cut the salt in half.
Turbinado sugar is the same as Raw Sugar, and adds crunch to the top
I recommend using two different kinds of apples in any pie or cobbler as it gives the dish a much more complex flavor.
For a more detailed explanation of making the crust with photos, please go to my Making a Simple Pie Crust post.
Brown Butter Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust
Makes one 9″ pie
Cheddar Pie Crust
- 10 ounces all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 2 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
- 8 ounces cold unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 – 3 tablespoons ice water, or enough that the dough holds together when you pinch it
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
Brown Butter and Apple Filling
- 8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 1/2 cup agave nectar
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons rum
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 ounce cheddar cheese, grated (optional)
Cheddar Pie Crust
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese together the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Pulse a few times to evenly disperse everything through the flour.
Slice the butter into thin slabs and add all at once to the food processor bowl. Pulse until the consistency is about the size of peas (about 10-12 pulses). A great way to check the consistency is by scooping up some of it with a fork.
Add the cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons of ice water and pulse 8 – 10 times, until the dough just starts to hold together when you pinch it between your fingers. If the dough doesn’t hold together, add additional ice water in small amounts. Pour the contents of the food processor bowl out onto the counter or other work space and knead the dough until it starts to hold together and forms into a ball.
Divide the dough into double the number of pies / tarts you plan to make. So if you plan to make one big pie, divide the dough in two and form into discs. One disc should be larger than the other as you will need more dough for the pie bottom and sides than for the lattice.
Wrap the discs in wax paper and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while you make the pie filling.
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Roll out the discs: there are a few ways to do this, but here’s the easiest one I’ve ever found. Place a fresh sheet of wax paper on your work space. Place one of the discs on it and roll it out a few times. Cover it with another fresh sheet of wax paper and roll the dough to the desired thickness. After every few rolls, you may want to peel off one or both pieces of wax paper. Lay the wax paper back down on the dough and continue rolling. This method of rolling the dough between wax paper makes rolling quick work! And the less work you put on the dough, the more tender it will be in the end.
Once the dough is 1/8″ thickness thick, peel off the wax paper from one side, flip the dough over the pie plate and gently peel off the wax paper on the other side. Tuck the dough down into the pie plate, taking care not to stretch it. Allow the dough to drape over the pie plate and cut off the excess with scissors or a knife. Shape the edges into flutes and pop the pie plate and dough into the freezer for 15 minutes. Freezing pie crust before baking helps to keep the fluted shape.
Now roll out the smaller disc of dough into a rectangle using the same wax paper process explained above. With a pizza slicer or a knife, slice into strips to be used for the lattice tops.
Fill the pie with the filling (recipe below) and lay down the strips, pressing the strip ends into the dough forming the bottoms and sides.
Lightly baste the dough with whole milk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar over the top of the entire pie.
Bake for 50 minutes, or until the apple slices soften and the filling is bubbling. You may want to check the browning of the pie crust after 25 minutes to determine if you need to cover it with foil for the balance of the baking. Allow to cool on a cooling rack.
Brown Butter and Apple Filling
Combine the apples, agave nectar, brown sugar, salt and lemon juice together in a large bowl and macerate for 30 minutes, or long enough that the apple slices begin to soften. Toss occasionally.
Soak the raisins in the rum until softened and plump, about 30 minutes. Add the raisins and residual rum to the apples.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam and slowly begin to brown. Once it begins to brown, it can quickly darken and start to burn, so be sure to watch it. Once the butter turns a nut-brown, pour it over the apples. Add the additional cheddar cheese to the apples if you’re using, and toss the mixture thoroughly with your hands, being careful not to break up the apple slices.
Arrange the apple slices in the pie shell heaping them up as they will collapse quite a bit as they cook. Be sure to add the liquid!