If,by chance, you visit this site with any regularity, you might have noticed a bunch of the posts have been a bit lacking (read: completely void) of text. It’s not because I didn’t have something to say, because god knows I always do, but the jumble-y mess that was my mind this summer has made self-articulation something of a challenge.
However, I turned 22 a couple of weeks ago, and while my birthday in and of itself was fairly calm (which, in comparison to the massive blackout and subsequent hangover that was my 21st, isn’t saying much), it seems as though I’ve found at least a bit of clarity. September marked the first time the school year started without me, the first time I didn’t compress my life into some bags and boxes and drive off into the I-80 West oblivion, and consequentially, my first fall in New York since I was seventeen. It was strange at first, to be sure, but after a few days, the reality of truly being back in my hometown and the postgrad world really sank in. It didn’t hurt that the weather finally cooled down to not just bearable, but even pleasant, conditions. Apples, spices, pumpkins and chai flavors were suddenly back, and even my anxiety to cook and consume as much peak-summer produce as possible seemed to wane a bit. Even though I’m sad to say goodbye to my nightly plum or peach snacks, I looooooooove fall like nobody’s business. And when you think about it, the few paltry days of true autumn you’d get in Northern Ohio pail in comparison to having a whole month, maybe even two, of sweater weather. Which is where these pockets of fall (did I really just write that? Barf.) came in: I’d made hand pies before, and had a bunch of ideas floating around, namely apple butter and a portable pie. While flipping through one of my favorite pie cookbooks, I came across not only an apple butter hand pie recipe, but also a pie dough variation that incorporated cheese. I liked the idea of a nod to the somewhat retro style of putting a slice of cheese over apple pie, and my recent obsession with pairing sweet and savory flavors made it all the more applealing. The great thing about them is the subtlety of flavors- it’s neither a mini calzone, nor a compact apple pie, but rather something nicely in between.
- As I previously mentioned, I wanted to incorporate cheese into the crust, but found the original hand pie dough a little too fussy to risk a substitution, so I opted for just a regular pie crust recipe that swaps out some of the butter for shredded cheese.
- I was concerned that a normal cheddar would give the dough an off putting-ly orange tint, so I used extra sharp white cheddar.
- Although I was pleased with how the cheese flavor came across in the crust, I found myself wanting a bit more texture somewhere in it, so I think adding a bit of shredded cheese on top would be a nice finishing touch.
- I opted not to do an egg wash for these and thought it turned out fine, but if you prefer your pie(s) to have one, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.
Cheddar-Crusted Apple Butter Hand Pies
adapted from Martha Stewart
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar (6-8 ounces), plus more for topping if desired
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
- In a food processor: briefly pulse flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter and cheddar; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. By Hand (using either a pastry blender or two knives): Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add butter and cheddar and blend until the lumps are as small as peas.
- Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse/Stir until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Don’t overmix.
- Divide into two disks. Turn dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over dough; press to shape into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days)
- Divide the refrigerated dough in half. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 3”-round biscuit cutter, cut circles out of the rolled dough. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling, cutting, and chilling process with the remaining half of dough.
- Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature until just pliable, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon about 1 tablespoon apple butter onto one half of each circle of dough.
- Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, spread out apple butter. Keep apple butter on half the circle, and spread until it is about 1/2 inch from the edge, making sure apple butter is not completely flattened. Quickly brush a little cold water around the circumference of the dough, and fold it in half so the other side comes down over the apple butter, creating a semicircle. Seal the hand pie, and make a decorative edge by pressing the edges of the dough together with the back of a fork. Repeat process with remaining dough. Place the hand pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and return to the refrigerator to chill for another 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the chilled hand pies from the refrigerator and place pies in the oven to bake. Bake until the hand pies are golden brown and just slightly cracked, about 20 minutes. Remove the pies from the oven, and let stand to cool slightly before serving.