November 26, 2019 Serves 8
I have heard of people eating their apple pie with a slice of of cheddar cheese on top. The idea just never really "did" it for me ya know? It didn't draw me in, or make me curious enough to start testing out some recipes. Until this, until now, until I have already made this twice. Apple pie baking supposedly began in England and the cheese slice landed on top of it sometime, somewhere in New England. I won't get into a long history lesson here. I want you to try this and let me know your reaction. When I had my first bite, I think my brain was a tad confused, but then it all settled down and the flavors melded together perfectly. The Cheez-Its add depth of flavor, a buttery, salty, toasty, cozy gathering on your taste buds. The apples are cooked in cider and lemon juice for a few minutes so they soften and the liquid reduces slightly into a thicker syrup. The apples absorb all of the cidery'ness. All of that gets poured onto the pre-baked shortbread crust, topped by a delicious crumbly topping. I thank Bon Appetit for this recipe, I just made a tweak or two.
1 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes (plus more for brushing your pan)
1 1/2 C Cheez-Its
1 1/2 C AP Flour
3/4 C plus 3 T sugar, divided
1 t Kosher salt, divided
2 large egg yolks
2 lbs combination of Granny Smith, Honeycrisp and/or Pink Lady apples
1/2 C apple cider
Preheat over to 375° F.
Butter the shiny side of a sheet of foil that is large enough to line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan, (with enough foil left on either side so you can lift it out of the pan when it is cool). I did it this way twice and I found it to be a big pain in the _______! My foil kept tearing and it was cumbersome. The next time, I will use a 9-inch springform pan, butter the bottom and sides, add a round of parchment paper and butter that as well.
Pulse the Cheez-Its, flour, 1/2 t salt and 3/4 C sugar in a food processor until you can no longer see bits of the crackers. It will look like a light, orange mixture.
Cut 1 1/2 sticks of cold butter into small cubes and add that to the bowl. Pulse until pea-size chunks of butter remain. Scoop about 1 1/4 C of that into a separate small bowl and set aside.
Add the yolks to the food processor and pulse, counting to 10 during each pulse. Keep doing this until you hear a clear change in the sound the processor is making. The mixture will start to come together into clumps and the sound will change. It should only take between 3 and 6 pulses.
Place the dough into your prepared pan and press to flatten it evenly. Poke holes all over the crust with a fork and bake until the top feels dry and the edges start to brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
In the meantime, prepare the apples. No need to peel them! Slice your apples into 1/8 inch pieces making sure to leave the core and pits behind. Combine the juice 1 lemon, 1/2 C apple cider and the remaining 1/2 t salt.
Put your apples in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add 3 T sugar and mix gently. Let this cook for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Then you can add your cider and lemon juice. Cook, stirring periodically, for about 10 minutes. The apples will start to soften and some may even begin to break down. The cider will start to thicken and you should be left with 1-2 T of this.
Pour the apples over the cooled crust and press gently to evenly compress them. Sprinkle with the streusel topping (for bigger clumps, squeeze the streusel in your hands as you crumble) and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes. You want to see the color darken, and smell toasty, apple goodness in the air. Let cool in the pan before either removing it from your springform pan, or using the foil overhang to transfer it.