Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cheddar-Crusted Apple Pie

Fruit and cheese are a natural pairing, and I'm here to promise you that that won't end in life-after-dairy.  The vegan cheese aisle just keeps expanding, allowing me to play around with flavor combinations like figs and blue cheese.  Perhaps the most iconic pairing is apples and cheddar, which go together in this intriguing, savory-crusted pie - yes, the cheddar bakes right into the pie dough.  My preference here is Daiya's shredded cheddar, but you might also try the strong cheddar from Sheese or cheddar from Vegan Gourmet.

For the crust:
  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3/4 cup shredded Daiya cheddar
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter
For the filling:
  • 10 cups very thinly sliced and peeled Granny Smith apple
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup packed vegan brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegan sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Dash of salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 Ener-G egg
1. To prepare the crust, combine 1 tablespoon flour with the cheddar in a bowl, and toss well.  Place the mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes.

2. Lightly spoon the remaining 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine 1/4 cup flour in a bowl with the ice water, whisking to form a slurry.  Combine the remaining 1 and 3/4 cups flour in a large bowl with 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cut the butter into small pieces, and cut into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until the mixture is like coarse meal.  Stir in the cheddar cheese mixture, and then add the slurry, tossing with a fork - do not form a ball. 

Note: The mixture should still be just a tad dry and crumbly, but add up to another tablespoon ice water if needed; I used an extra teaspoon.

3. Divide the dough in half, and press each portion into a 4-inch circle on 2 sheets of overlapping plastic wrap (the plastic wrap should extend at least 13 inches in all directions).  Cover each portion with 2 additional sheets of overlapping plastic wrap, and roll each, through the plastic, into a 12-inch circle.  Chill for 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.  Combine the sliced apple and lemon juice in a large bowl.  In a second bowl, combine 3 tablespoons flour, the brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and a dash of salt.  Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over the apple mixture and toss well.

5. Remove the top sheets of plastic wrap from 1 dough portion.  Flip over so the remaining plastic wrap is on top, and fit the dough into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray (a little bit of the dough should extend beyond the pie plate).  Discard the remaining plastic wrap.  Spoon the apple filling into the crust, and brush the edges of the crust lightly with water.

6. Remove the top sheets of plastic from the remaining dough portion, and place, plastic wrap side up up, over the pie filling.  Remove the remaining plastic, and press the edges of the top and bottom dough together; fold the edges under and flute.

7. Cut 3 (1-inch) slits in the top of the dough with a sharp knife, and brush the top of the dough evenly with the Ener-G egg.  Place the pie plate on a baking sheet, and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Nutrition Info:
10 servings (1 wedge), Calories 285 

Tasting Notes:
I expected the crust to be the best part about this recipe, but the filling delighted me more.  Between the spicy ginger and the brightness of the lemon juice, it was quite different from your standard apple pie - in the best way.  The crust was equally deliciously different, more like the savory cheese crackers my grandmother used to make at family get-togethers.  However, the cheddar flavor was very toned down and muted, when combined with all the other flavors of the pie.  I would not only add a touch more cheddar to the crust, but would sneak some into the filling next time.


Here are just a couple more fun vegan cheese and fruit pairings to try.

Skip the pizza and just serve slices of buttery Vegan Gourmet Monterey Jack with sliced mango for a snack.

Spoon Tofutti's new Better than Ricotta over berries and serve for an easy dessert - yum!

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