An easy yet fancy new way to enjoy apple pie!
This deep-dish, one-crust apple pie might be pretty to look at, but I think it’s stellar mostly because of its flavour, boosted by the cheese in the crust. In case you’re wondering, a pan dowdy gets its name from ‘dowdying’ the crust by cutting it into pieces then laying them over the filling. I’ve wanted to try making one ever since hearing the song ‘Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy’ as a kid. If you’re not comfortable working with pastry, you’re sure to find this ‘cut and layer’ approach so much easier. I like to prepare this in a 9 inch (22.5 cm) cast iron skillet but you could also make it in a pie plate, casserole dish or even in ramekins for individual portions. If you’re not a fan of cheddar with apple pie, simply omit the cheese from the pastry. And if you have a favourite pastry recipe, including a gluten-free one, feel free to use that instead!
For the crust:
- 1 1/4 cups (150 g) all-purpose flour (regular or gluten-free)
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) salt
- 1 teaspoon (4 g) white sugar
- 1/2 cup (115 g) cold butter
- 1 egg yolk (reserve the white for brushing the crust before baking)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 – 60 mL) ice water
- 1/2 cup (55 g) grated old cheddar cheese
For the filling:
- Butter for greasing the baking dish
- 6 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (I like Empire, Gala or Cortland)
- 1/2 cup (100 g) lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon (.5 g) ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) brandy or rum
- 1/4 cup (30 g) all-purpose flour (regular or gluten-free)
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, cut into 4 cubes
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Few pinches of turbinado sugar, coarse sugar or brown sugar to sprinkle on crust
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream
- Make the pastry by putting the flour, salt and sugar in the work bowl of a food processor; cut the butter into 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) sized pieces and add to the bowl. Pulse just until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (about 15 seconds). Sprinkle the cheese on top.
- Beat together the egg yolk and 3 tablespoons (45 mL) of the ice water. With the machine running, pour the egg yolk mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream. Turn off machine as soon as you have finished adding the water. Pinch a teaspoonful of the dough with your fingers to see if it holds together. If it seems a bit dry, add one more tablespoon (15 mL) of water and process for 5 seconds more.
- Alternatively, to prepare the dough by hand, put the flour, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Grate the cold butter into the flour mixture and toss with two forks to combine. Add cheese and toss again. Add beaten egg yolk combined with 3 tablespoons (45 mL) of ice water and stir quickly with a fork. Pinch dough to test, as above, and add more water if needed, stirring briefly.
- Turn the pastry out onto the counter and use your hands to gather it into a disc about 3/4 inch (2 cm thick). Wrap in plastic or beeswax wrap then refrigerate for one hour as pastry is always much easier to roll out when chilled. Note that the pastry can made and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead, or frozen for up to a month.
- While the crust chills, make the filling. In a large mixing bowl stir together apple pieces, sugar, salt, spices, vinegar or lemon, and flour. Mix until everything is evenly distributed. Cover and refrigerate if not assembling pie immediately.
- When ready to assemble pie, transfer the apples into a lightly buttered deep cast iron pan or other oven-safe dish(es). Dot with the tablespoon (15 g) of butter, cut in small pieces and set aside.
- Dust both sides of the pastry with flour. On a lightly floured counter (or between two sheets of parchment paper), roll out the pie crust to 1/4-inch (.6 cm) thickness. With a 2 inch (5 cm) biscuit cutter, cut out circles (or use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut out diamonds or squares) and place them, overlapping slightly, on top of the apple filling, rerolling pastry scraps if needed. Refrigerate the pie while the oven preheats (or refrigerate for up to 6 hours before baking).
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 425F. Just before baking, brush the pie crust with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Bake for 20 minutes then reduce oven to 375F and continue baking for 30 -35 minutes, until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbling up the sides. Remove pie from the oven and allow to cool to almost room temperature before serving.
- Spoon into bowls and serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 4 days.