Apple Pie With Cheddar Crust
Serves six to eight.
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup grated good-quality sharp cheddar cheese (about 1/4 pound)
3/4 cup (1 and a 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut in 8 pieces
1 large egg
5 or 6 large tart apples such as McIntosh or Cortland, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
1/2 bourbon vanilla bean, split lengthwise (regular vanilla bean can be substituted)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
Put the flour, salt, and cheese into the bowl of a food processor and 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 mixture has the consistency of corn meal. (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 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 dough between 2 pieces of wax paper, and roll to form the top crust. Refrigerate or freeze both crusts, covered, for at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator 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 pie crust. Cover the apples 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 out 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 (stick a knife through the opening in the crust to see if it is done). Serve warm, with or without extra cheese.
Photograph by Anna Williams.