Let me just start by saying that this pie is the stuff of legends. It is amazing. I’ve never made it and had it last more than two days and it’s always requested over and over again. I think it’s so perfect because it’s not too sweet and has this delicious savory note from the cheddar plus a bite of spice from the cayenne. You can cut the spice in half if you’re serving to some sensitive palates…it will still have that hint in the background which just works so well with all the flavors here.
Sidenote: if you have extra dough after forming your pie, roll it out and cut them into cracker-sized bites. I could live off these…YUM!
For the crust:
2 ½ cups bleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened for about 10 minutes
cold water as needed (about ½ cup)
For the pie filling:
2 ½ pounds baking apples (approximately 6 – I like to use Gala apples)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter
Start the dough by adding the flour, salt, baking powder and cayenne pepper in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a fork to combine.
Add the grated cheese to the bowl and rub the mixture between your palms so that all the cheese breaks down into tiny bits.
Cut your two sticks of butter into tiny cubes. Add them to the mixture and work the mixture to combine the butter with the flour (you can use a food processor if you’d like).
You’re ready to continue when the dough has the texture of wet sand or tiny little beads (see above).
Add two tablespoons of cold water to your pie dough. Squish it to work the water throughout the mixture. Continue to add water one tablespoon at a time until all the dough sticks together in one large ball. You want to make sure there is no lingering flour that hasn’t been incorporated.
Split the dough into two equal parts. Flatten them into rounds and cover them in plastic wrap. Refrigerate while you prepare your apples (at least 20 minutes) or keep up to two days before baking the pie.
Preheat the oven to 450°F and place a baking sheet in the oven. Wash the apples and peel off the skin. Slice the apples around the core and cut into wedges. Toss the apples with the lemon juice, flour and sugar. Set aside until the dough has chilled for at least 20 minutes.
Dust your counter with a small handful of flour. Unwrap one piece of dough sprinkle both sides with a touch of flour. Use your rolling pin to roll out the dough large enough to cover the bottom of your pie dish.
Carefully transfer the rolled dough to the pie dish and fill with the apple mixture along with any juices at the bottom of the bowl. Cut up the remaining tablespoon of butter into tiny cubes. Top the apples with the butter. Add more flour to your counter and add a touch to both sides of your remaining pie crust. Roll out as you did with the other crust and carefully transfer to top the pie. Trim any overhang on the pie (you’ll just want enough to extend to the edge of the pie dish). Crimp the edge of the pie with the fork so the edges stick together. Cut four one-inch long slits in the center of the pie so it can ventilate as it bakes. Transfer the pie to the oven, placing on top of the baking sheet (this will help crisp the bottom).
Allow the pie to cook for 20 minutes. At this point, lower the heat to 375°F and loosely wrap the crust of the pie with tin foil to avoid burnt edges. This doesn’t need to be perfect – two large pieces of foil that dome the sides will be totally sufficient! Allow the pie to cook for another 40 minutes.
Cool the pie completely before serving – about 2 or 3 hours. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the perfect dessert! Will keep refrigerated for 4 days.