Today is National Apple Pie Day. I absolutely love the whole idea of a day chosen to celebrate a certain food! When I hear that it is the day to celebrate Chocolate Eclairs (June 22) or Cheesecake (July 30) I immediately run the grocery store. These holidays make me happy partly because it’s really quite ridiculous if you think about it, and partly because it gives me an excuse to bake something, not that I need much of an excuse. Most national food days have no definable origin, although whoever came up with “Sneak some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch” day (August 8) is certainly a genius. These days also have no official recognition. The United States Government will never set aside August 30 to celebrate “National Toasted Marshmallow” day, but you can bet that it is marked in red on my calendar!
Today is Apple Pie Day so Elizabeth and I made Apple Pie with a Cheddar Crust. If you have not tried cheddar in the crust of your apple pie then you are really missing out on something wonderful. The tang of the cheddar is a perfect pairing with the sweetness of the apples.
Cheddar Cheese Crust
12 ounces (approximately 2 ½ cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoon sugar
4 ounces Appel Farms sharp cheddar, grated
4 ounces shortening (frozen in one ounce pieces)
4 ounces butter (frozen in one ounce pieces)
4 ounces cold water
Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, cheddar, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the frozen shortening and toss them with the flour mixture. Use your fingers to rub the shortening into the flour mixture. Cut in the butter until you have created a mixture of almond and pea size pieces. Drizzle the water over the flour mixture. Mix with a fork.
Dump the mixture on the counter. Gather the crumbs into a mass of dough. If the mixture is still dry, add more water a tablespoonful at a time, sprinkling it over the dough.
Gently knead the dough two or three times, just to combine.
Gather the dough into a circle and cut in half with a bench scraper. Form each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
6 medium apples* peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons orange juice
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon coarse sugar crystals **optional**
Mix the sugars, flour, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a small bowl.
Place the apples in a large bowl with the sugar mixture and orange juice and toss gently. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450. Roll out one of the dough disks to make a bottom crust and place it in a 9 inch pie pan. Pile the filling into the crust and arrange the apple slices so there are no large gaps. Roll out the second disk for the top crust. Lay it over the filling and cut off the excess crust around the edges. Fold the crust over and crimp the edges. Cut vent holes in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Brush the crust with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired.
Place the pie pan on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes then lower the temperature to 350 and bake for approximately 45 minutes. Tent the pie with foil to prevent the crust from overbrowning and bake until the filling is bubbly, about 45 more minutes. Allow to cool for 1 to 2 hours before serving.
*I like to change up the filling with different local varieties. Apples are not in season right now so we used 3 Golden Delicious and 3 Braeburn.