September in America is apple picking time. Orchards in New England burst with McIntosh, Cortland, Granny Smith and Winesap, while orchards in the northwest hail Honeycrisp, Ambrosia, Cosmic Crisp and Envy apples. And vintage American cookbooks provide a plethora of apple pie recipes. Most recipes follow a classic formula — sliced apples tossed in sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice and some type of thickener — flour, cornstarch or tapioca, baked until the apples are tender and the pastry is golden brown — just the way grandma used to make them. I discovered one recipe in my collection that called for a not-so-secret ingredient — cheddar cheese. As it turns out, home cooks have been serving apple pie a la cheese for years (Read more HERE).
Modern Meal Maker 1939, a cookbook and menu planner, suggests serving Cheese Apple Pie for dessert during the first week in October. A typical apple pie except for one unusual ingredient — a half cup of grated cheddar. I have heard of serving apple pie with a slice of melted cheddar on top, but I have always been skeptical. Like my husband said when I showed him this recipe, “it sounds like a good way to ruin a perfectly good apple pie”. Not being one to shy away from a new (or old) recipe, I decided to give it a whirl anyway.
Using my favorite butter/oil pastry recipe, I followed the filling instructions to a T. Wanting the pie to approximate one baked in the 1930s or 40s, I chose a classic apple variety — Granny Smith. After tossing the sliced apples in the flour, sugar and spices, I filled the pastry, sprinkled the grated sharp cheddar over the apples and baked as directed. When I pulled the apple pie out of the oven, it was beautiful!
After allowing the pie to cool, I eagerly cut a slice. As I lifted the first piece from the pie plate, lovely juices began to ooze. Sadly, on top of the juices floated a glistening pool of yellow oil that had rendered from the cheese during baking. The cheese itself had become grainy and stuck in clumps to the underside of the top pastry. Not very attractive. Overall the pie was bland. It could have used more cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and cheese for that matter, as there was no cheddar-y goodness. We even tried jazzing the pie up with ice cream — no luck. I actually threw the rest of the pie away. This recipe can definitely go back to hiding between the pages of an old cookbook.