Celebrate the holiday with all-American pie



It’s May, if you haven’t noticed, and the month is flying by fast. Mother’s Day has come and gone. College students are winding up their semesters and coming home. And Memorial Day is just around the bend.

I was talking with a friend recently who confused Memorial Day with Veterans Day. In case you didn’t know, Memorial Day is an annual American holiday observed on the last Monday in May to commemorate the men and women who died serving in the U.S. military. Veterans Day, on the other hand, celebrates the service of all military veterans, living and dead.

For an all-American holiday like Memorial Day, apple pie seems a fitting sweet. A 1902 New York Times article extolled the virtues of this dessert by stating, “Pie is the American synonym of prosperity, and its varying contents the calendar of changing seasons. Pie is the food of the heroic. No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.”

Depending on where you grew up in America, you either eat your pie with a side of ice cream (a la mode) or with a slice of cheddar cheese on top. Mostly it is folks in the Midwest and New England that seem to be in the “pie with cheese” camp.

Vermont even has a 1999 law on the books requiring that proprietors of apple pie make a “good faith effort” to serve it with ice cream, cold milk, or “a slice of cheddar cheese weighing a minimum of 1/2 ounce.”

I grew up enjoying apple pie with ice cream, so I can’t say I had even tried cheese on my pie. But when I heard the very cute saying, “An apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze,” I decided I needed to try it.

This week’s recipe is from Gourmet magazine and has the cheese in the crust itself, rather than sitting on top of it. The delicious savory crust balances the sweet filling in a salty-sweet combo that celebrates all things American.

Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust

For pastry:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 pound extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably white),
  • coarsely grated (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening (trans-fat-free),
  • cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 to 8 tablespoon ice water
  • 1 tablespoon milk

For filling:

  • 1 1/2 pound Gala apples (3 medium)
  • 1 1/2 pound Granny Smith apples (3 medium)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter


Combine flour, salt, and cheese in a large bowl. Add butter and shortening; cut ingredients together with a pastry cutter or your fingertips (or pulse in food processor) just until mixture resembles rolled oats with some pea-size butter lumps.

Sprinkle 6 tablespoon ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated. Pick up a small handful of dough and lightly squeeze it. If dough doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until incorporated. Do not overwork dough or pastry will be tough. Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide in half. Form each half into a 5-inch disk and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and place in the middle of oven. Preheat oven to 450°F.

Peel and core apples. Slice apples thinly, making 1/4 inch thick slices. In a large bowl, combine slices with sugar, flour, lemon juice, and salt until evenly coated.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 piece of dough (leave remaining disk in the fridge for the time being) with a lightly floured rolling pin. Roll dough into a 13-inch round and fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Roll out other piece of dough to make an 11-inch round for the top crust.

Pour apple filling into shell. Dot all over with remaining 1 Tbsp. butter, then cover with pastry round. Trim edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together to seal, then fold under. Lightly brush top crust with milk, then cut 5 (1-inch-long) vents.

Place pie on hot baking sheet and bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 375°F and continue baking until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes more. Cool to warm or room temperature before serving.