Prior to this, I had never made an apple pie. I don’t know why, but the mood just never struck me. That was until I came across these little guys on Alexandra’s Kitchen, anyway. I’m not sure if it was the cheese in the crust or the thought of many, tiny pies, but I was smitten! Now, I’d seen pictures of cheese melted right on top of apple pie before and hadn’t found it to be all that appealing. But there was something about the idea of putting it right into the crust that made me say, “YES, these are so happening.”
Unfortunately, these pies and I did not get off on the right foot. The peeling and coring of apples instantly filled me with irritation, and I spent the next ten minutes cursing the stupid dessert and whomever had been bored enough to create it in the first place. But once I finished all of the tedious work and mixed in the sugar and spices, I immediately withdrew my harsh criticisms. I’m sorry, apple pie! Please forgive me. You smell freaking awesome.
Side note: I—being the hasty reader that I am—completely missed Alexandra’s note about the filling measurements being for a regular pie (and therefore far too much for the hand pies). Not exactly a heart-breaking mistake, considering that the solution is MORE PIES. I have cut the filling measurements in half below, so this should give you enough if you’re making the hand pies. If you’d like to make one large pie, double the ingredients for the filling (but not the dough). Also, since it’s apple season and there are a bazillion and one varieties on the shelves, I just went kind of crazy and grabbed a random assortment of crisp, good-for-baking apples. All I can remember is that there were a couple Fujis, and the rest is a mystery. I’ve listed the varieties recommended in the original recipe below, but feel free to experiment!
Apple & Cheddar Crust Hand Pies
yield: 14–18 hand pies
- 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 14 tbsp (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 4 oz. cheddar cheese (around 1 ½ cups), grated
- ½ cup ice water
- ¾ lb. (1–2) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cubed
- 1 lb. (2–3) Cortland apples, peeled, cored, and cubed
- ½ cup of sugar
- ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- a little under ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp salt
- a pinch of ground cloves
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (to dot the filling)
- 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons of water
- turbinado or demerara sugar, for dusting (granulated will work as well)
Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add butter and pulse until crumbly, then pulse in cheese. Add the ice water a little bit at a time, pulsing in between, until dough comes together. Turn out dough and gather it together, then divide into two pieces. Wrap each piece in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Toss the apples, lemon juice, sugar, salt, spices, and flour together in a bowl and set aside.
Remove one round of dough from the fridge and roll it out on a well-floured surface, until it’s about ⅛ of an inch thick. Cut out circles that are approximately 4 ½ inches in diameter (a martini glass or a small bowl will work if you don’t have an actual cutter this size). Gather up dough scraps, re-roll, and cut out more circles. Repeat until you’ve used up all that you can. Place the circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill while you prepare the second round of dough. Once you have finished with that, remove the first sheet from the fridge and put the second one in.
Add around 1–2 tablespoons of filling to each circle of dough and dot with butter. Rub a little bit of water around the edges, then fold over and press with a fork to seal. Repeat with the second batch of dough, and arrange pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 450° and prepare the egg wash (yolk + 2 tbsp of water). Remove the pies from the fridge and score each with a few small slits on top. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake at 450° for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350° and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the pies begin to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them cool to room temperature before serving. (I, of course, found it impossible to wait more than 5 minutes, and slightly burnt my mouth on molten apples. It was worth it!)