“An apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze.”
There is a tradition in New England, and some parts of the midwest, to serve a slice of cheese, usually sharp cheddar, alongside a piece of apple pie, or even melted on top. For those of us who didn’t grow up with this tradition, even though we may love eating apple slices with cheese, the whole idea of cheddar cheese with a pie is well, just wrong. As in, “are you kidding?” wrong.
If this is you, I understand. But just let the idea percolate a little while. Apples and cheese are good together, right? A slice of apple with a slice of cheese—bare, naked perfection. Why? Because apples are both sweet and a little tart, and cheese is salty with plenty of umami. So your taste buds are firing on all cylinders when you eat them in combination.
Still, the idea of cheddar with or in a sweet apple dessert is weird, to those of us unaccustomed to the idea. So, you’ll have to just trust me on this one. It’s good. Like “where has this been all my life?” good. I’m speaking from experience here. I have shunned the idea since the first time I heard of it. But this week I decided to take the plunge and make a simple galette, a rustic tart with apples, some maple syrup for sweetener, cheddar, in a buttery, cheddar speckled crust. All I can say is WOW. Thank you New England.
If using a tart apple such as a Granny Smith, you may want to add a little sugar or more maple syrup to the filling to balance the tartness of the apple.
- 1 1/2 cups (200g) of all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cups, 6 ounces, 170 g) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (85 ml) sour cream (full fat, not light)
- 2 Tbsp finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 good cooking apples, such as McIntosh, Courtland, Jonagold, Pippin, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Fuji, or a mixture of various cooking apples (NOT red delicious)
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 half of a lemon, or the juice of half a lemon (to acidulate the water for holding the apples while you peel them to keep them from discoloring)
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons minute tapioca or instant tapioca for thickener (can substitute corn starch)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup lightly packed grated cheddar cheese
Make the pastry dough
1 Cut the butter into cubes. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour.
2 Use your clean hands to squish the flour and butter together, breaking up the butter into smaller pieces until the mixture resembles a rather shaggy coarse meal with a few pea-sized pieces of butter. Add the sour cream and a couple tablespoons of finely grated sharp cheddar cheese and stir with a fork until incorporated.
3 Gather the mixture with your hands and form a ball. Shape the ball into a disk. Sprinkle with a little flour, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to a day ahead.
Prepare the galette
1 Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Prepare a large bowl half filled with water. Squeeze into it the juice of half a lemon (and put the squeezed lemon in too if you want). Peel, quarter, and core the apples, and place into the acidulated water while you work to keep the apples from discoloring.
2 Remove the apple quarters from the water. Slice each apple quarter into 4 or 5 slices, lengthwise, about 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch thick at the widest end. Return the apple slices to the acidulated water.
3 Drain the apple slices. Place the apple slices back in the now empty bowl. Sprinkle with maple syrup and cinnamon and gently toss so that the apple slices are lightly coated with both. Add the minute tapioca and the lemon zest. Gently toss again.
4 On a clean, lightly floured, flat surface, place the disk of dough. Roll out with a rolling pin to an even thickness and about 14 inches wide.
5 Gently move the rolled out pastry dough to a parchment lined baking sheet. Starting from 2 inches from the perimeter of the pastry round, arrange the apple slices, side by side, in a circular pattern, filling the circle. It's okay if some of the apple slices overlap a little.
6 Sprinkle the top of the apples with grated cheddar cheese. Gently fold the dough up over the apple slices, forming pleats with the dough every few inches.
7 Place an egg in a small bowl with a teaspoon of water, beat with a fork or whisk until smooth. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash over the exposed border of the dough (don't put on the apples, just the dough). Sprinkle the egg washed crust with coarse sugar.
8 Bake for 10 to 15 minutes (until beginning to brown) at 400°F (205°C). Then lower the temperature to 375°F (190°C) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the apples are cooked through and the crust is nicely browned.
Cool until just lightly warm before serving.