Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust

Apple pie with cheddar cheese crustIt must be that time of year again. The holidays are around the corner and we’re getting close to another turn around the sun. Pie time.

Recently, I was at a small gathering of friends in downtown Austin and the subject of pie came up. Someone asked if I’d ever baked an apple pie with a cheddar cheese crust. I’d never heard of it. It sounds like a weird pairing but I was assured it’s quite good. So, because I hadn’t made a pie in a while, and with Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I’d give it a whirl and share it here.

Most of this recipe is from Nancy Fuller, host of the Food Network show Farmhouse Rules. I made some minor edits based on item availability and some measuring goof-ups.

The crust:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt (use 1/4 tsp instead, I goofed)
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup (4 ounces) grated extra-sharp yellow Cheddar (the color of the cheddar doesn’t actually matter)

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of the food processor and give it a quick pulse to blend the ingredients. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like clumped sand. Add the cheese and pulse again until combined and cheese is worked into the mixture and cut into small chunks. Turn the mixture out into a bowl, drizzle in 6 tablespoons cold water, and mix in with a rubber spatula until the flour is moistened. Add another tablespoon of water, only if needed. Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a ball and flatten to a disc. Rest the dough to relax the gluten, 30 minutes

The filling:

2 pounds (about 4 good-sized) Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch wedges
1 1/2 pounds Gala apples, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch wedges
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp butter, sliced into pats
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 tbsp brown (or turbinado) sugar, for sprinkling

Combine the Granny Smith apples, Gala apples, sugar, flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl and toss to combine.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Adjust the baking racks to the center of the oven

Roll out 1 disc of the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch pie dish. Add the apples in an even layer. Mine looked like a mound of sliced healthy goodness, with sugar. Lightly brush the edges of the crust with egg wash. Next, roll out the second dough round, slightly larger than the first. Cover the top of the apples with the second pie dough, pressing the edges to seal the crust. Trim the crust. Crimp the edges. Brush the pie with the egg wash and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Make 4-5 air slits in the center of the pie and place the pats of butter in the slits. Place the pie on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.

Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 45 minutes longer. Cool to room temperature, at least 3 hours before tearing into it with your excited family or friends. Or even yourself.

The pie tastes very good. Granny apples are sour and Gala are a mix of sweet and sour so you got a bit of both flavors, along with the sugar and spice. The crust had a hint of cheddar flavor that went well with everything else. Tammi and the kids gave it a thumbs up and even added, “nice work Nettie” to the critique. Pretty rare. Then again, I hadn’t made a pie in a while. I wonder what I’ll make for Thanksgiving…

The apple pie cavern after 3 hours.

The apple pie cavern, after 3 hours

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Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Just in time for the holidays, I present to you the Pecan Pumpkin Pie. This is a pie for those who want to bake something for their holiday dinner and can’t decide which one to concoct. And this is also a pie for those of you that can’t decide which slice you want for dessert. This tasty pie comes courtesy of The Gourmet Cookbook, edited for the maximum delicious by Ruth Reichl.

The crust:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 stick (8 tbsp) cold, unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch squares

1/4 tsp salt

3-4 tbsp ice water

Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips, or pastry blender (or do what I did and pulse in a food processor) until mixture resembles a course meal with pea-size lumps of butter. Evenly add 3 tablespoons of ice water in mix and mix (or pulse) until combined. Squeeze a small handful of dough: if it doesn’t hold together add ice water a half tablespoon at a time, mixing or pulsing until incorporated. Don’t overwork the dough or pastry can become tough, which is great for street fighting but not pie making.

Turn dough onto work surface and split into 4 portions. With the palm of your hand, smear the portions in a forward motion to help distribute the butter. Gather the dough together into a ball. Place dough on plastic wrap. Press it into 5 inch disk. Wrap and place in refrigerator until firm, at least an hour. The dough can be kept for up to 1 day, just so you know…

While you’re waiting for the dough to firm up, make your fillings.

The pumpkin filling:

3/4 cup canned, solid pack pumpkin

2 tbsp packed light brown sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 tbsp sour cream

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until smooth. Set aside.

The pecan layer:

3/4 cup light brown syrup

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/3 cups (5.5 oz.) pecans, chopped if you need to do such a silly thing

In a large bowl, mix corn syrup, brown sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla , zest, and lemon juice until well combined. Stir in pecans. Set aside.

Yay! now you just have to assemble everything…

Place oven rack in center position. Pre-heat your oven to 375F. It’ll take about 8 minutes to heat up. that will provide you the time to get your pie shell ready.

Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Pecan Pumpkin Pie

 

Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface, using a rolling-pin to make a 13 inch circle. Transfer to a 9 inch pie plate and trim excess to leave a 1/2 inch overhang. fold it under and crimp the edge as desired. Lightly poke the crust in several places along bottom with a fork and refrigerate for 30 minutes if desired  (I didn’t put it in the fridge). Line with foil and place pie weights, rice or dried beans onto foil. Place on center rack and bake for 20 minutes. carefully remove foil and weights and bake pie shell until lightly golden, 6-10 minutes more. Remove from oven (leave oven on) and allow shell to cool.

Once shell is cool, evenly spread pumpkin filling over bottom of shell.

Carefully spoon pecan filling over pumpkin layer.

Bake the pie until crust is golden and filling is puffed, about 35 minutes (center should still be slightly jiggly). Cool completely on a rack.

The flavor of this pie really pops. It gives both the smooth spiciness of the pumpkin layer and the sweet caramelized pecan layer.  It’s like a festive holiday in your mouth! The interesting thing about the flavor is that it’s so sweet, even with less-than-usual sugar fixing. I really enjoyed baking this because it was pretty easy. And the wait is worth the effort. My wife liked it too and suggested this be a tester for Thanksgiving. This pie will be one of the few (I’m not sure how many I’ll make, maybe 3) I end up making for the holiday. Have a great Thanksgiving and if I don’t add to the blog during this most wonderful time of the year, have a great holiday:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schadenfreude Pie (Insert Maniacal Laughter Here)

Wikipedia defines Schadenfreude (pronounced shah-den-froy-da) as  a feeling of joy or pleasure when one sees another fail or suffer misfortune. It’s a dark and heavy emotion, which can come in quite handy when attending the 50th birthday celebration of a friend:) I’m not a jerk, I’m just not 50 yet (but almost).  This is more of a savory pie, both dark and bittersweet, with quite a bit of heft. It’s both dense and heavy.  Just like Schadenfreude. I attribute this pie to John Scalzi over at Whatever. The original posting is from 2006 and sent along to me by Alicia:) Thank you.

The crust:

Pre-made 9 or 10 inch graham cracker pie crust. I recommend 10 inch as you will have leftover filling if you choose the 9 inch crust.

Dark, heavy, bittersweet and tasty. Suffer, you!

Dark, heavy, bittersweet and tasty. Suffer, you!

The filling:

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup dark corn syrup

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks

3 large eggs

2 tsp. cinnamon

1-2 splashes Kahlua or other coffee liqueur

Pre-heat oven to 375 F. In a large mixing bowl add melted butter, corn syrup, molasses, brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix well. Melt chocolate and blend into syrup mixture. Add eggs and coffee liqueur; blend until mixture has smooth consistency. Pour mixture into your pie crust. Smile in sinister fashion.

Place on center rack in oven, bake for about 45-50 minutes. At 45 minutes, poke pie with butter knife. If it comes out clean, pie is ready; otherwise give it five more minutes.

Once pie is out of oven, let it set about 20 minutes if you are desiring to eat right away. When I took it out of the oven, it actually looked like it was breathing. It freaked me out a little.

John’s rec (and I agree) is that this be eaten in small slices. It’s really rich and very heavy, and you’ll regret eating a large slice. And this would make me happy:) Have with a scoop of ice cream or a large glass of cold milk for maximum joy.

Lemon Macaroon Pie

The is before piping. For this one I wasn't going for presentation. It was really tasty.

Lemon Macaroon Pie before piping. Low quality presentation, high quality taste.

Happy Day-After Thanksgiving:) I hope everyone who wanted to be with family and friends enjoyed their holiday. I wanted to post this earlier than today but didn’t have my to-do list organized well enough to bake the pie until the morning of turkey day.  This is the recipe for a Lemon Macaroon pie. It is attributed to the Bon Appetit Dessert Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild and was done almost to the letter (as best I could). I wanted to do something besides the traditional pie fare, but I baked 3 pumpkin pies too.

The Crust:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour

t tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

8 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. water

Blend the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the butter, using on/off turns until the mix resembles a coarse meal. Add the water and blend until moist clumps form. Remove from processor, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Set oven to 350F. Place rack in bottom third of oven.

Remove dough from fridge and roll to 12 inch circle. Place in 9 inch pie dish and trim so there’s half-inch of overhang. Fold under and crimp the edges. Or not. I wasn’t in it for presentation at this particular outing. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Remove from freezer, line bottom with foil and add beans or pie weights. Place in oven for 20 minutes or until edges or golden brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool, remove weights and foil. Set aside. Leave oven at temperature.

The Filling:

3 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups sweetened flake coconut

1/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp. melted butter

2 tsp. grated lemon peel

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, egg yolks and salt in a large bowl. Add sugar and beat until thick and fluffy. Beat in coconut, whipping cream, lemon juice, lemon peel, butter and vanilla and almond extracts. Pour filling into crust.

Bake until filling is golden and set, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely and then chill in fridge until cool. About 3 hours.

The Topping:

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tsp. powdered sugar

3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

8 thin lemon slices (optional – I didn’t use them)

Using your electric mixer, beat the cream, sugar and vanilla in a small mixing bowl until  stiff peaks form (please note this will take a while, even on whip setting). Fill a pastry bag with a star tip (or plastic bag with corner cut) and pipe around the edges of your pie.

The pie is yummy and the lemon flavor is outstanding. There was one tiny slice left this morning and that was my breakfast. Olivia wants 4 of them for her upcoming 14th birthday. I’ll probably just make 2.

Bacon Cheesecake with an assist from The Bacon Goddess

Bacon cheesecake is fleeting.

Bacon cheesecake is fleeting.

This is a recipe for a bacon cheesecake. If you like bacon, and you like cheesecake, you’re welcome…

This recipe is a combination of 2 different recipes with elements coming from the Bacon Goddess and other elements coming from the Baby Screamin its Head Off in the Middle of the Night and Ruinin my Life Pie, which is also posted on my blog.

This was created for a Friday afternoon gathering at my place of employment. It went over well. I’m not going to pull your leg, this is damn good.

The Bacon!:

10-12 strips (about 1 lb.) of thick-cut bacon, as lean as possible

Prep:

Pre-heat your oven to 400F. Cover a sheet pan in tin foil. Lay out the strips on your sheet and make sure they aren’t touching. They’ll stick together and won’t cook. Bake  it 15-20 minutes or until it looks crisp. Remove from oven and place on a plate with paper towels on it so it can cool and crisp. Once cooled, put it into a food processor and pulse it a couple of times so you have your crumble. Set aside.

Set your bacon grease aside. You’ll need it for your crust.

The crust!:

2c (about 2 packages) of graham crackers

2tbsp brown sugar

4tbsp butter, unsalted and melted

2tbsp bacon grease

About 3 tbsp bacon crumble (this isn’t science, you can use your judgement)

Prep:

Set oven to 350F. Liberally grease a 9 inch spring form pan. Break up your graham crackers into food processor and blend until fine. Add sugar and mix. Add melted butter and bacon grease and blend until it looks coarse. Add bacon crumble and pulse until blended. Dump your mix into spring form and press along bottom and up the sides a bit. Place on center rack of oven for 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it, you don’t want to burn it. Remove from oven and let cool completely. It should be cooled by the time you’re ready to pour the filling.

Keep your oven at 350F…

The filling!:

I'm cute AND delicious!

I’m cute AND delicious!

32oz. (4 8 ounce packages) cream cheese at room temperature

1 3/4c white sugar

2 tbsp vanilla extract

5 eggs

1 egg yolk

3/4 of your remaining bacon crumble

Prep:

In a large mixing bowl, blend your cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla and blend until smooth. Add bacon crumble and combine. Add one egg at a time to your mix and blend just until combined. Don’t over blend, you get too much air in your mix and the cheesecake will fall. Add yolk and blend until combined. Scrape the sided with a rubber spatula and blend to make sure your filling is mixed well.

Grease the side of your spring form above the crust line.

Pour your filling into the spring form.

On the bottom rack of your oven, place a pan with about an inch of water in the pan. This helps reduce the possibility of cracks in the side and top of your cheesecake.  Place your cheesecake on the rack above the water pan.

For the results I got, bake for 42 minutes at 350F. At 42 minutes, open your oven,  take your remaining bacon crumble, and spread evenly over the top of the cheesecake. Put back in oven and bake an additional 3 minutes.  By now, your cheesecake should be a golden brown around the edges.

Turn off oven and remove cheesecake. Run a thin knife around inner edge of spring form so cheesecake properly detaches from pan as it cools. Put it back in oven and leave the door cracked, about 40 minutes. This allows it to finish baking as its cooling. Remove and chill in fridge about 3 hours or until you are ready to eat one of the best desserts you’ll have in your life:)

Bacon Cheesecake2

And Pie #52…The Cherry Bomb

Before I start on my pie blog swan song, I’d like to send healing thoughts and hope for a speedy recovery to my Aunt Judy in Nashville who’s very ill. Please get well soon.

The cherry bomb cleverly disguised as a chocolate cake

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you:)

A year ago I decided to do a pie a week and blog about it. It’s been an experience part exciting, boring, humorous, fun, not-so-fun, and an all-around pleasant learning experience (I still need to work on my crust skills though…). For those of you who followed along, thank you. Thank you for asking me how things were going and staying interested. And in doing so, keeping me interested. 

I hope you’ve used this small library of classic and unique recipes and I also hope you had an even better go of it than I did:) I also hope you continue to use it. For anyone coming along after the fact, thank you for looking around. I hope you find something that you would like to try, and something that you enjoy.

This has also been a marker of time and happenings in the past year. Nothing too crazy but certainly some sadness and some excellent times, and everything in between. As it should be, it has been a mix. It also marks a transition. It’s re-kindled my desire to get out and do new things. So, I will shortly be fostering of a reasonable number of Siamese cats and volunteering with Austin Siamese Rescue and Austin Pets Alive! Joining me on this adventure is my lovely wife. Yay! Doing good deeds together:) Maybe I can blog about that too.

Pie number 52 was something I couldn’t think of a good name for. So I asked my friends on that-social-network-thing for a name and gave them the description; a cherry pie baked inside a chocolate cake and frosted with a semi-sweet chocolate and sour cream frosting. I got some good names and umm, some abstract. I decided to go with The Cherry Bomb. It has a nice ring to it. Thanks Heidi.

My final concoction is inspired by Kate Orenberg over at Summer of Pie. You can find her story of the epic Capownie here. I initially wanted to do her recipe, which is 6 pages long. It also requires baking tools I couldn’t McGyver. So I went with a toned down version of her larger concept and created a flavor concoction that my wife came up with. My recipe was 3 pages, which makes sense. Kate created a double-decker. And she did it over the course of a week. I just didn’t have that kind of time.

I started putting this together Wednesday at 8am. I finished it around 9:30pm. In between, I also made Baby-Screamin its Head Off in the Middle of the Night and Ruinin my Life Pie, helped Tammi braise a turkey, and did a couple of other things to get my Thanksgiving on.  This modipied creation was a bit of work but, after sampling the wares as it was coming together, I think this is going to rock.

The Crust!:

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

10 tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

3 tbsp. cold water

In a food processor, mix the flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and blend using on/off turns. Process until coarse meal forms. Add water and blend using on/off turns. Add water by teaspoon if dough seems dry. Gather dough into a ball, flatten and chill for at least one hour.

Kinda looks like a cherry filled brownie in this picture

Line the inside of a 9 inch pie pan with tin foil. Wrap the edges down and under the side of the tin. A smaller pie tin would probably be best as you want to make sure the pie you put in the cake is a bit smaller and more dense. Dense is key, you don’t want the pie to come apart in transfer. That would be no bueno.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12 inch diameter circle. Transfer to a 9 inch pie dish. Trim the edges to 1/2 inch off side. Fold the extra dough under the edge. Don’t worry about fluting or crimping your edge. Nobody is going to see it unless they excavated their cake.  Chill at least an hour.

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Line the crust with foil and place dried beans or pie weights. Bake 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the crust is a light brown. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, create a tin foil collar  for your crust, making sure your edges are covered. You don’t want to burn the edge.

The Filling!:

2 16 oz. cans (equal to 4 cups) cherry pie filling

1/4 cup granulated white sugar, or as needed

2 1/2 tbsp. quick cooking tapioca

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tbsp. cherry brandy

Place the cherries in a large bowl. Add the sugar, tapioca, salt, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and almond extract and mix with a large wooden or plastic spoon until joined. Pour the mixture into the baked pie shell. Spread the cherry filling to the tin foil collar.

Bake at 425F, for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F and bake an extra 25-30 minutes.

Place on wire rack. Let cool completely. Transfer to fridge and allow at least an hour to chill. Two hours would be better. It really needs to set.

Chocolate Cake!:

3 cups cake flour

3 cups sugar

½   tsp. baking soda

1½   tsp. salt

¾ tsp. baking powder

1 cup water

1 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup shortening

3 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

6 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled ( use a microwave safe bowl, and nuke it for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Not a cherry filled brownie.

Spray oil and flour 10 inch springform pan, removing excess flour.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Blend for 30 seconds on low-speed, stopping to scrape sides and bottom of bowl occasionally.

Beat for 3 minutes at medium speed.

Pour enough batter to have a ½ inch platform to allow pie to sit on. Bake 5-10 minutes or until batter is just firm enough to hold pie.

Unwrap the tin foil collar from the crust. Using the tin foil you lined your pie tin with, loosen and lift the cherry pie from your pie tin. Transfer your cooled cherry pie to the 10 inch springform pan.

Pour remaining batter into srpingform. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Let cool for at least 4 hours. Using a butter knife, run along outer edge of cake to separate from the springform. Remove springform. Place back in fridge until you are ready to frost.

The Frosting!:

1 (12 oz.) bag chocolate chips

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

In a medium sauce pan, let chips slowly melt over low heat. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. It’s ready to spread.

Remove your cherry occupied cake from the fridge and frost away. When done, you should have some extra frosting. Find a good cookie and dip that bad boy into the remaining frosting and enjoy.

I had a small gathering of friends eager to see the result and it turned out quite well. I actually had pie-parazzi snapping photos and videos of the cutting of the cake. Kinda felt like I was at my wedding again:) The entire thing was dense but had a good flavor and the chocolate/cherry mix really was the bomb. I have some left over if you want to stop by and try it:)

I’m so glad I did this. I have the disherprin. I may do a few more recipes periodically depending on what I find, or what I feel I can make up. But for now, I have achieved the goal I set for myself and this makes me happy. Have a great holiday season and take care.