Watch our senior stylist and resident cook Jono Fleming as he creates this oh-so-autumnal take on a classic apple pie.
There’s something I find therapeutic about making a pie, so I jump at the chance once the weather cools and apples are in season. The finished product always looks impressive, and it’s easier than you think to make your own pastry. The cheddar in the pastry here might sound unusual, but it’s what makes this recipe really special. The savoury contrast with the sweet apple filling is addictive. It’s great as a base for quiches as well, or even baked as little stand-alone cheese biscuits. I found the autumn leaf cookie cutter in my collection and thought it would make a beautiful topping. If you don’t have the time or patience to cover the entire pie in leaves, you can always roll out a traditional top to the pie and then place leaves just around the edge, and a few on the very top.
APPLE PIE WITH CHEDDAR CHEESE CRUST
4 large green apples
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated or ground nutmeg
2 tbs caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split, seeds scraped (or use ½ tsp vanilla bean paste)
Handful of dried breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1-2 tbs milk
Vanilla ice cream, to serve
Cheddar cheese pastry
3 1/3 cups (500g) plain flour, plus extra to dust
2/3 cup (100g) icing sugar, sifted
250g chilled salted butter, cut into small cubes
125g cheddar cheese, finely grated
2 large eggs, beaten
For the pastry, sift the flour and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl, then add the chilled butter. Rub the butter into the flour mixture using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively, pulse in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Stir in the grated cheese, then add the beaten eggs and knead until the mixture comes together in a smooth bowl (don’t overwork it). Split the dough and form into two discs. Enclose in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the apples if you want, then thinly slice (using a mandolin if you have one). Place in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice to keep them from browning. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, vanilla and breadcrumbs, then toss well and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and flour a 25cm pie dish.
Cut 1 piece of dough into quarters and roll one piece on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm thickness. Using an autumn leaf cookie cutter, cut leaves from the dough and transfer to a sheet of baking paper. Lightly score veins into each leaf using a palette knife. Repeat with remaining 3 pieces of dough, then return the leaves to the fridge to rest for 10 minutes.
Roll out the remaining half of the dough to a round about 3mm thick, leaving enough to overhang the edges of the pie dish. Use the dough to line the dish and press in gently, trimming the excess. Prick the base with a fork and fill it with the apple mixture. Working your way around the edge, press down the individual pastry leaves, and continue around until the pie is completely covered.
Brush the egg and milk mixture over the top of the pie, then bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until pastry is golden and the filling is cooked through.
Leave the pie to cool completely, then slice and serve with a big scoop of ice cream.