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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi Day Pie Blog Hop! Brandied Apple Pie with Cheddar Crumb Topping

It's Pi Day!  We are happy to be participating in an annual holiday that only math geeks may appreciate...Today is 3.14...Get it?  Pi Day!  In case you were wondering, Piπ or 3.14159265...) is the number that is derived when you divide the circumference of ANY circle by its diameter.  For the math geeks in the room that's:
Our local blogger buddy, Dorothy, at CrazyforCrust was the inspiration for today's posts.  She's a math geek, we are math geek...We are PROUD math geeks!  Math geek girls ROCK!! 

The brandy in this pie gives it a velvety sweetness...Almost silky.  Elegant, too.

I'm sharing this recipe over at Cake of the Week's 
Baking with Spirit Challenge: Dark Spirits.  

Hop on over to Cake of the Week to see even more 
booze-inspired baked goodies!  

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Make your crust using the methods we've shown you for Jacqueline's Brandied Apple Pie or my Hard Cider Apple Pie.  Jacqueline introduced us all to the concept of vodka in the crust.  We'll never go back, now...When I made this pie, I was so amazed at the subtleness of the pie dough.  So EASY to roll out.  Look at how soft...
That's the relaxed gluten...We LOVE relaxed gluten.

Next, make your pie filling.  Please see my post for the Hard Cider Apple Pie if you need to for making the filling.  This time, just substitute brandy for the hard cider.  While the pie filling is cooling, make the cheddar cheese crumb topping.
Mix the butter, flour, sugar and salt together until you make a crumb like this.
Add in your cheddar cheese.  I didn't cut this in, like I was supposed to, as indicated in Karla's recipe.  I goofed.  But the outcome was still amazing...I did learn not to refrigerate the topping with the filling.  
Put the topping on the pie just before you bake it.  Trust me.  Please.
I also cut out really cute autumnal shapes using my very cool cut-outs from William Sonoma.
I put some demerara sugar on the cut-outs.  Cute, huh?
Bake it as directed.  See how the filling just oozes out under that perfectly browned and crunchy topping?  Can you smell it?  Come on, try..
Natasha was sleeping ever so soundly on a beautiful sunny day.  A cat's life. 
My baby girl.

Brandied Apple Pie with Cheddar Crumb Topping
Adapted from The Boozy Baker by Lucy Baker, Jim Fobel’s Old-Fashioned Baking Book, and my friend, Karla’s, topping

Makes one 9 inch pie, enough for 6 or 8 slices


Crust (double crust recipe, use only half and freeze the other half)
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt (regular salt, not kosher)
5 tbsp unsalted butter cut into a dice, keep chilled
5 tbsp Crisco shortening (regular or butter flavor)
3 tbsp vodka
3-5 tbsp ice water (water with ice cubes)-this depends on how dry your flour is

Brandied Apple Filling
2 1/2 pounds Golden Delicious apples (for a tart apple, use Granny Smith), peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup Brandy, plus enough water to measure to 2/3 cups (Brandy+water)
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Juice of half a lemon or 1 tbsp lemon juice (zest optional)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp Brandy (yes, more)
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp unsalted butter (to dot the top of the filling)

Karla’s Cheddar Crumb Topping
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (Karla only uses Tillamook)
1/4 tsp salt (regular, not kosher)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (not too soft)

Make the Crust
In a large bowl combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter and shortening into the flour using a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse meal (a bit smaller than peas).  Sprinkle in the vodka, 1 tbsp at a time, and mix like you’re tossing a salad.  Then add 2 tbsp ice water and mix with a fork, just to moisten.  Sprinkle another 2 tbsp ice water and quickly stir in.  Add just enough of the remaining water in 1 tbsp increments to make a dough that just holds together.  Work quickly to keep the ingredients cold.  Divide into two discs, cover each with plastic wrap, and refrigerate one disc until ready to use (at least 30 minutes).  Freeze the other disc. 

Make the Filling
Combine the apple slices, 2/3 cup Brandy+water mixture, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice and salt in a large stockpot.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring often until the sugar dissolves and the apples are thickly coated, about 5 minutes.  In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 2 tbsp Brandy and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.  Add this mixture to the apples and boil for 1 or 2 minutes until the liquid is thick and clear.  Removed the pot from the heat and let sit for 30 minutes. 

Make the Crumb Topping
Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and cut together using a pastry cutter.  Cover and leave out at room temperature for at least an hour (two hours is better).

Assemble the Pie
Remove the disc from the refrigerator.  On a well-floured surface, roll out the disc to 12 inches for a 9 inch pie pan.  Carefully transfer the dough to the pie plate.  Pour the apple mixture into the crust and dot with 2 tbsp butter cut into pieces.  Transfer the pie to the refrigerator for 1 hour.  Lucy says to put in the freezer.  The idea here is to chill down the filling so that the crust and the filling are the same temp.  Sprinkle with the cheddar crumb topping (that’s been sitting at room temperature) and spread to the edge of the crust.

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Bake for 20 minutes and reduce the temperature to 375 F.  Bake for 40 minutes more, until the crust is browned and you see bubbles of filling coming through the edges.  Cool on a rack until you can’t stand it anymore. 
Great for breakfast!

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  1. This looks fantastic, happy to be hopping with you!

  2. I have actually never had pie with cheese in it....but I would be willing to give it a try when the pie looks this yummy!!! Happy PI day!!!!

  3. This looks and sounds fantastic, great combination, apples, cheddar and booze! So glad I found you through the Pie hop.

  4. Wow that sounds really good! Never thought to put the cheese into the topping before, genius!

  5. Pi rocks! And so does this pie. :) I've never eaten cheddar with apples but have heard it's sooo good. I need to try this pie! Thanks so much for participating today. Hi-5 on the math geeks!

  6. Admittedly, I don't know how I still feel about cheddar with apple pie but I hear it's really good and this pie is doing an awfully great job at convincing me it looks warm and amazing. Save me a couple slices so I can decide this for myself?? :)

  7. That looks delicious! I can't wait to check out more of your recipes...Yum!

  8. I've never tried cheddar with apple. Everyone seems to love it though!

  9. Apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze <3 Lovely pictures, Ellen! And I can attest to the deliciousness of this pie! :)

  10. These look and sound so yummy. Think I'll make some this weekend.

  11. I love the pastry cut outs! This pie sounds tasty; thanks for entering it into BWS!


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