The only thing more American than apple pie is argument. And when it comes to apple pie, those family "discussions" can get a little hot under the crust.
The purists insist apple pie is meant to be eaten without adornment. The flaky crust and the sweet sauce are enough to turn sliced apples into a delicious dessert.
The a la mode crowd demands the intersection of hot and cold. A scoop of ice cream adds creaminess to the baked goodness turning into a melted morass best eaten with a spoon.
But for some apple pie lovers, more sweetness isn't the answer. A hint of salty sharpness clarifies the sweetness of the cinnamon and the apples into a flavorful explosion.
I'm talking, of course, about cheese.
Cheddar cheese, to be exact.
Those of us who routinely coat every meal in a thick sheet of gooey cheese need more ways to bring the flavor into our apple pie.
Cheese crackers in the crust make the miracle happen.
The choices are limited only by the selection of cheese crackers at your favorite grocery store. I'm partial to the spicy zip of Chipotle Cheddar Cheez-Its, but you might go for a plain cheddar, a white cheddar or even a Colby Jack if you like your cheese flavor mild.
This recipe calls for an even mix of flour and powdered cheese crackers in the crust. This creates a crust crumblier than a straight pastry crust but not as crunchy as a cracker crumb crust.
You can adjust the ratio to lessen the cheese flavor and make a smoother crust so long as the total amount of flour and powdered crackers remains 2 cups.
Thursday is National Pie Day, so however you prefer your pie, it's time to put one on the table.
Apple Pie With Cheese Cracker Crust
1 cup flour
1 cup crushed Cheez-Its (your choice of flavor)
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces butter (2 sticks)
cold milk (as needed)
5 cups sliced apples
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
Process Cheez-Its in the food processor until very fine. About 2 cups of loose crackers will yield one cup crushed powder.
Mix powdered Cheez-Its, flour, sugar and salt. Cut in butter with a knife or a stand mixer with a dough hook. Add cold milk one tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together. Do not overmix.
Split dough in half. Form two discs, wrap in wax paper, and chill for at least one hour.
Peel, core and slice apples into a mixing bowl. Add lemon juice to prevent browning.
In a small bowl, mix white and brown sugars, cinnamon and flour. Pour over the apples and mix until apples are coated.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove one dough disc from the refrigerator. Dough will be sticky. Flour both sides and roll out between sheets of wax paper. Lay crust in pie pan.
Pour apple mixture into bottom crust. Cut tablespoon of butter into four pieces and space them out on top of filling.
Remove second dough disc from the refrigerator, form crust, and top pie. Pinch edges closed. Drizzle extra lemon juice over top crust and sprinkle with extra sugar if desired.
Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes. Serve warm.
-- Reach Mel Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org.