Apple pie goes back a long way, like 14th century long way and since its birth it has undergone a variety of changes. Different versions exist for different countries and everyone seems to use different apples, thus my point, that no two apple pies are the same, unless you get them from a supermarket, then every pie is the same… bad. This Dutch style apple pie borrows a note from very traditional American apple pie and has the top covered with cheddar. The cheese subtly cuts the lightly sweet filling and keeps it tasting new with each bite, and along with the flaky, buttery, pie crust, this apple pie may become your new standard.
Pâte Brisée (Pie Crust):
3-1/2 cup AP Flour
10 oz (2-1/2 sticks) Butter
1/2 – 3/4 cup Ice water
1/4 Tspn Salt
1-1/2lbs Granny Smith Apples
1-1/2lbs Honey Crisp Apples
1 Tbs AP Flour
1 Tbs Cornstarch
2 Tspn Cinnamon
1/2 Tspn Fresh Nutmeg
6-7 Cloves ground
1/4 cup Sugar
2 Tbs Brown Sugar
2 Tspn Lemon Zest
2oz Mild Cheddar
Makes a 9″ pie
Pâte Brisée is as simple as it gets for pie crust, having only 4 ingredients. It’s a French recipe and translates into “paste break” which refers to the flaky crumbly pastry that is made. People have added sugar, shortening, fruit juice, ground nuts and all kinds of stuff to make their pie crust, but the classic buttery flavor and texture of pâte brisée is just perfect in my book. Yes, shortening will give you a flakier crust, but you will be sacrificing that butter flavor for just a bit more texture, oh and shortening is gross. Use shortening for making butter cream roses and leave it at that.
Cut the butter into cubes and freeze for at least 10 minutes. You can rub the butter into the flour as I did here in the scones, or you can cheat as I did this time and throw the flour, salt and butter into a processor and process until the butter looks like tiny balls in the flour. Process in pulses, as you don’t want to overheat the butter and begin melting it.
Dump the flour mix into a bowl and add about a 1/4 cup of the ice water into the middle. You can use a fork, a pastry blender, a rubber spatula or what I used, a plastic bowl scraper to begin to hydrate the flour by cutting the water into it. The point is to get the flour just wet enough to be able to form a dough, and when I say just wet enough I mean as dry as possible. After getting a 1/2 cup of the water incorporated, grab a handful of the flour and squeeze it to see if it holds together. Add the water by tablespoons until you can get the dough to just barely hold. The water will slowly hydrate the flour as it rests, so if you get it too wet now, rolling it out may be a sticky mess. Once you have a dough formed, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
While the dough rests, make the filling. Combine all of the ingredients, except the apples, into a bowl and whisk them together. I peel the apples because the skins don’t tend to break down too well and end up like tiny bits of string in the filling, however I appreciate the nutritional value of them, but it is a dessert after all. Either way, slice the apple as thin as you can, aiming for 1/8″ in thickness. This will help with layering them in the crust without too many gaps. As you slice, toss the pieces into the dry mix and give them a toss after every apple, this will prevent them from browning. DO NOT soak them in lemon juice, as this will make the pie too watery.
Preheat the oven to 350º.
To roll a pie crust I prefer a French rolling pin, which is the one without handles, because I feel it allows me to distribute pressure more evenly, but either will work. Cut the dough in half and work with one at a time. Flour your surface, your rolling pin and the top of the dough and begin rolling out the dough. Flip and re-flour the dough every once in awhile, usually after you notice it won’t really spread any more. You want about 1/4″ thickness, but the easiest way to tell it’s ready is to take your pie plate and hold it over your rolled dough. If the dough is about 2″ past the edge on all sides then it’s ready. Roll the dough up on the rolling pin and unroll it into the pie plate.
Press the dough into the plate and up the edges, then take a fork and dock the dough all over the bottom and the sides. This will prevent the dough from puffing up. Layer the apples into the dough until they are peaking about 1″ above the brim. Next roll out the second dough. Use a pizza cutter or chefs knife to cut the dough into strips for the lattice top. Place half of the strips in one direction on top and take every other one and fold it almost all of the way back. Place a strip near the bend and fold the pieces back in place, then take the other piece and fold it back. Repeat this process until the pie is covered. Take some kitchen shears and trim off all of the excess dough from the edge of the plate.
If you use a fork to press the edge of the crust, it looks like anyone’s little brother could have done it. To crimp the edge, use your knuckle or fingertip to press the dough on the edge and use your other hand to pinch it into shape. It’s super simple and makes a huge presentation difference. Top with the shredded cheddar and put it in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes turn the oven to 400º and bake for another 15 minutes or until the crust is brown and the cheese even darker.
Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before cutting. Bring to the table whole for the “oohs” and “aahs” of everyone there.