Dear Sweet Stuff,
You are doing me in daily. I crave you, then feel physically ill after consuming you. You know, you give me headaches and mood swings. I will be breaking up with you. Right after I eat some of these.
Yours truly, Lauren
True story. I have a serious sweet tooth. Something I’ve “discussed” with a few of you. It always starts during pregnancy, then worsens once I deliver and start breastfeeding. A year later, I am still the primary source of nutrition for a human being who grows larger and larger every day. Who claps and waves and smiles and climbs and runs and says “Hiiiiii-ahh!” like a Southerner. All my kids are apparently Southern until they are about 20 months old. Then they become Midwesterners in their speech. But that’s a different story. The sugar. It’s most craved in the form of baked goods– you know, the kind with lots of bad-for-you white flour and white sugar and butter and that kind of bad goodness. And I’m not struggling with my weight, so it’s a funny thing. The sugar affects me in a way I assume drug addicts are affected. In order to feel normal, I eat something sugary. Then, after feeling normal for a couple of hours, I crash and feel horrible. Hungover. Headache-y and lethargic and sometimes even disoriented. If I have some more, I feel better briefly. I really feel that it is the sugar doing this to me. So. I need to cut waaaaaaaaaay back. Which also evidently means I need to cut way back on Pinterest and food blogs because geez people with the pinning and blogging about desserts all the time!
I found this recipe via Pinterest and had to try it because we had all the ingredients and I needed to get rid of a few apples AND I wanted to try my hand at homemade crust-making. It was a success! And with a few tweaks, I managed to reduce the sugar (though don’t let that fool you– these are still totally bad for you in a butter-and-white-flour kind of way) and they turned out amazing.
Plus, they are called “hand pies” and when I told Oliver what I was making, he climbed up on the stool in the kitchen to watch intently, quietly, before stating “If these are hand pies, then where are the fingers?” To which I responded, “You are absolutely right, my boy! These are fingerless hand pies!”
I don’t mean to badmouth sugar. I’m sure in moderation everything is fine. Plus, these have sharp cheddar cheese baked into the crust and man, if you have never paired cheddar and apple, you are missing out on something big. And with Fall right around the corner, I suspect people will have an abundance of apples and visitors. These pies took a little bit of time, but I made both the crust and the filling one day ahead, so all I had to do the day of was assemble them.
For the crust:
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 14 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter (that’s 1 3/4 sticks– yikes) cut into small pieces
- 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 1/2 cups) coarsely grated
- 1/2 cup ice water
Whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add to a large food processor (I don’t have one big enough for this recipe, so I did it by hand) and add pieces of butter, pulsing until pea-sized lumps appear. Do not over-mix! With processor running, add ice water and process just until dough comes together.
Gather dough into a block and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to two days.
For the filling:
- 5 Granny Smith apples (this is what our tree produces, but you can use any crisp apple you want. I hear Gala or Honeycrisp are also good choices!), peeled and chopped into small cubes
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 Tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 Tablespoons of water
- Granulated or sanding sugar for dusting the top
Preheat oven to 450. Divide dough into two pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough into 1/8th inch thickness and cut 5-inch rounds (I used a bowl about this size and it worked fine). Cut five to seven circles, and set onto cookie sheet with a silpat (or nonstick surface like a cookie sheet with parchment paper). With scraps, combine and re-roll, then cut remaining dough. Place all the dough circles into refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes while you make the filling (I skipped this step!).
Combine chopped apples, sugar, spices, and lemon juice in a bowl and stir with a large wooden spoon to coat apples.
Remove chilled dough circles from refrigerator and place a scoop of apple filling into the center of the round. Using your finger, wet the outermost edge of the round (so that it will stick to the other side and close properly) and fold one side of the circle onto the other side, make a half-moon. Press the edges together and use a fork to seal.
Repeat with each circle, then return to refrigerator for 30 minutes. Remove and coat egg wash on each pie, then sprinkle sanding sugar on top. Bake in 450 oven for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake another 20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and delicious. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
These are best served slightly warm, in hand (with or without fingers)!
I know it’s a lot of fuss for some cheddar-apple pie, but trust me, the ease of breakfast the next morning was delightful. You can literally grab one of these and go, maybe even without a napkin!