I don’t like pie. This admission had the potential to be a dealbreaker in my current relationship, but like my mother, a vegetarian who still cooks meat for my father, I’m willing to cook my way to a solution.
A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I went apple-picking. There was no question: if apple-picking were a competition, we would have won apple-picking. We picked 9 pounds of apples, aided by my rock-climbing hobby — I could scamper up trees and pelt down apples with great speed. But what does one do with the trophy, 9 pounds of apples?
One eats them for every meal. We started with applesauce — very easy to make at home. That’s breakfast. And for lunch, there’s nothing better than an open-faced toasted cheese sandwich, made with good bread and extra-sharp cheddar, and topped with apple slices.
This still left pie. The reason I don’t like pie is that I feel sweetening the fruit and surrounding it with pastry adulterates it; if I want an apple, I’ll eat an apple. If I want dessert, I’ll eat dessert. The two don’t mix in my mind. But not so for my boyfriend, so we set about throwing together an apple pie that took advantage of all the local and seasonal glory of the Upper Valley, incorporating apples, maple syrup, and Cabot cheddar.
Maple-Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust: Begin by making the crust. It will need to chill for at least an hour and up to a day before you roll it out, so plan ahead. Also, it’s a no-brainer, but you’ll need a pie tin or some similar vessel in which to bake this whole concoction.
For the crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
15 tablespoons butter (just under 2 sticks. I used salted and didn’t add any other salt to the crust)
1 cup grated cheddar (the sharper the better)
If you have a mixer and/or food processor, use them to mix the crust. I didn’t, so we got creative. (As you may remember, I also don’t own a mixing bowl, so I mix everything in a pot). Add flour to the pot/bowl. Now, you’re going to want to blend the butter into the flour, but melting the butter has the potential to do weird things to the texture of the crust, so you need to mush the butter into union with the flour while it’s still solid. I didn’t have any tools to help me blend—even a potato masher would have been great. Instead, I took a knife and flaked tiny pieces of solid butter into the pot until it was all added. Then I mushed everything together with my bare (clean) hands. Do what you have to do. Add the cheese and mix it in. Now add a bit of cold water — about 5 tablespoons, or just run a little bit of tap water into the pot/bowl. Mix in the water and form the dough into a ball; divide the ball in half, put each half in a plastic bag, and put them in the freezer or refrigerator to chill.
Now preheat the oven to 400 degrees and set to work on the filling.
For the filling:
About 3 1/2 pounds apples, or about 9
1/2 cup maple syrup (or more, to taste)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon (or more, to taste)
Chop the apples; we used about 9 apples for a very full pie. Eyeball how much you think will fit in your pie dish. I didn’t bother peeling them. Add syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Roll out your crusts. I don’t have a rolling pin, so I used a glass milk bottle (from McNamara Dairy! Local resourcefulness!). Line the bottom of your pie tin with one crust. Fill the pie with the apple mixture. Slice the other rolled-out sheet into strips, and lay them out in a lattice on top of the pie, squeezing the ends into the bottom crust.
Bake for 45 minutes or until crust is golden-brown and apples are tender. I still don’t like pie, but thanks to boyfriend and roommates, this very Vermont/New Hampshire style pie disappeared in less than 24 hours, and that’s good enough for me.
Tags: apples, food, Laura Bryn Sisson, off campus kitchen, pie