“An apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze”—or so goes the saying from the Central Leatherstocking region of New York State.
This oddly named and eminently quotable area (home to the Baseball Hall of Fame) was also the setting for James Fenimore Cooper’s series of books that includes “The Last of the Mohicans.” These stories of the frontier were collectively called The Leatherstocking Tales—named for the deerskin garment early settlers donned over their linen pants to protect them from the underbrush and brambles.
High above those nasty brambles were plenty of fruit-laden apple trees, from which the local women made their pies. Today, New York State produces more than 25 million bushels of apples—and more varieties than any other apple-growing region. New York State is also home of the world’s first cheese factory and is the third largest cheese producer in the country. It makes perfect sense, then, to combine these two meant-to-be-together foods—cheese and fruit—in one irresistible package.
And while those first Apple Cheddar Pies may have been made with fruit picked 15 minutes ago and cheese from the baker’s own cows, the pies we make today can be every bit as good. The version below can be made in a mere 15 minutes of work, thanks to ready made pie crusts . . . and the fact that we don’t have to light a fire to heat our ovens.
Leatherstocking Apple Cheddar Pie
3 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch slices (about 8 cups)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, diced into bits
1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrust dough (2 crusts)
3 ounces extra sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a pie plate with one pie crust, gently pressing dough into sides, and letting excess hang over the edge.
2. In a large bowl, combine apples, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Spoon into pie crust and scatter bits of butter evenly over filling. Top with an even layer of cheese.
3. Drape second crust loosely over filling. Pull excess from the bottom crust over edge of top crust and crimp to enclose. Flute edge decoratively. Brush top crust lightly with beaten egg and use a sharp knife to make 4 to 5 small (1/2-inch) slits.
4. Bake until top is golden brown and fruit is bubbling and tender, about 50 to 55 minutes. If crust browns too quickly, drape pie lightly with foil and continue cooking.
5. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8.
Recipe by Marge Perry.
Per serving: 460 calories, 24g fat, 6g prot., 58g carbs., 3g fiber, 510mg sodium.
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Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn