Serves a Crowd

Brown Butter and Cheddar Apple Pie

September 13, 2010
2 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

I figured if I was going to pay top dollar for a bag of beautiful local apples at the farmer’s market, I wanted them to be the star of my pie. So, I skipped the (potentially overwhelming) traditional spices and just tossed the apples with sugar and browned butter, not unlike the filling for Nancy Silverton’s apple crumble in her great baking book Pastries from the La Brea Bakery. Next, I turned to Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau’s Once Upon a Tart cookbook to riff on their killer tart crust, adding a handful of grated cheddar cheese and a bit of lard (yep, lard) for good measure. - Midge —Midge

Test Kitchen Notes

Midge's pie is an homage to apples in their purest form. She employs no cinnamon or nutmeg to cloak their sweet perfume; instead she browns some butter, which complements the apples with a faint nuttiness. The crust is tender and flaky, with a muted burst of cheddar breaking through towards the end of each bite. It's crucial to chill the dough as Midge directs -- then you're sure to end up with a perfect, and perfectly gorgeous, fall apple pie. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • filling
  • 3 pounds apples, preferably a combo of Cortland and Honey Crisp, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • pie crust
  • 2 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 3 tablespoons semolina flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons cold lard [Editors' note: we swapped in butter with success]
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp yellow cheddar
  • small glass ice water
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
  1. Toss apples and sugars together in large bowl. Set aside for an hour to allow apples to break down.
  2. Sift flours and salt together by hand or in bowl of food processor.
  3. Add butter, along with the lard and cheese, to flour mixture. Pulse food processor (or cut into flour quickly by hand) just until fat and flours turn into a pebbly mixture.
  4. Remove blade from processor and sprinkle about 6 tablespoons of ice water on pebbly mixture. Using your hands, gently combine until the dough starts to hold together. Add more water as needed.
  5. Cut dough in half and form into disks, one a bit bigger than the other. Wrap with wax paper and chill for about 30 minutes.
  6. Roll out larger disk of dough on floured surface. Gently fit into pie dish, crimping the edges. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 400.
  7. Poke dough in pie dish with fork to ventilate. Line with parchment or foil and add pie weights (or beans and/or rice). Bake for 10 minutes. Remove parchment and pie weights and bake for another 5-10 minutes until pie shell starts to look dry-ish on the bottom. Cool.
  8. Meanwhile, onto the filling: Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over med-high heat. Swirl until the foam subsides and the butter turns a nut brown color. Watch closely - this can burn quickly. Toss with apples.
  9. Dissolve the cornstarch in the 2 tablespoons of water and toss into apple mixture.
  10. Roll out second disk of dough on floured surface to fit the top of your pie.
  11. Fill par-baked pie shell with apple mixture. Gently fit top over the filling, crimping the edges. With a sharp knife, cut slits or poke with fork to vent.
  12. Beat egg with one tablespoon of water. Brush egg wash on top of pie.
  13. Bake at 350 for about 50-60 minutes, until filling is bubbly.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • kschurms
  • Angel
  • graemefouste
  • FoodieFlirt
  • mrslarkin

Recipe by: Midge

I’m a journalist who’s covered everything from illegal logging in Central America to merit pay for teachers, but these days I write mostly about travel. I’ve been lucky enough to find myself in some far-flung locales, where poking around markets and grocery stores is my favorite thing to do. Cooking, especially baking, is my way of winding down after a long day; there’s nothing like kneading bread dough to bring you back to earth.

82 Reviews

kschurms November 15, 2019
I was super excited to try this pie for a while, but I found it a little disappointing. The crust was interesting - the cheddar definitely came through and it almost tasted like a goldfish or cheez-it. It could have benefited from some herbs like rosemary or thyme maybe. The filling was super bland, even though I added cinnamon to it. Definitely could have used more spices there.
Jared K. October 22, 2018
I thought the crust was really great but the filling was a little bland. Will add some more spices next time (cinnamon etc.) and will add a little more cheddar to the crust.
Laurence C. November 10, 2016
Hi Midge, I realize it's been a while since you posted this pie, but I'm hoping you still get alerts from comments :)
I am planning to make this pie this weekend - how far in advance can I make it? Could I do part on Friday and part Saturday morning? The entire thing Friday and serve Saturday? Would you refrigerate?
Thank you!
Midge December 7, 2016
Sorry I didn't respond earlier-- I'm actually not getting alerts and I'm not sure why. In any case, I'd love to know what you ended up doing and how it turned out.
Angel September 16, 2013
I made this pie today, and it is delightful. I absolutely love this crust, and will use it in other recipes. Midge- I apologize upfront for varying the recipe, however I followed ATK method of using vodka instead of water for making the crust. Amazing all around. Thank you for sharing and congratulations on the achievement!
Midge September 29, 2013
Thanks so much Angel. I've yet to use ATK method but I'm dying to try it.
graemefouste November 20, 2012
Amazing apple pie and it is seriously heaven. The crust makes this soooo good.
Midge September 29, 2013
Thank you :)
FoodieFlirt October 26, 2011
Midge, I made this pie over the weekend and it is perfection. A perfect balance of savory and sweet and the pie crust... fabulous! Thank you for sharing!
Midge November 7, 2011
Thanks FoodieFlirt!
mrslarkin August 8, 2011
i wish i had this for dinner. right. now.
Midge August 9, 2011
Sounds like a good dinner to me. I think the next apple pie I make though will be yours!
Sarah P. March 10, 2011
Beautiful Pie!
Midge March 15, 2011
thank you!
hausproud December 9, 2010
Made this for our town library's pie sale, and received the ultimate compliment....librarian bought it the night before and didn't even put it in the sale!!! Happily I made a second one for us to have at home and it was truly delicious, especially for breakfast. Great recipe!
Midge December 9, 2010
I love it! Thanks so much for your note. I'm thrilled you liked it. Love pie for breakfast.
TheThinChef October 25, 2010
Just getting around to perusing this recipe, and I can't wait to make it! I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but I tend to not really love apple pie b/c of the spices in the filling—so this is perfect. Plus the cheddar crust...yes, please!
Midge October 27, 2010
Thanks ThinChef. I'm totally with you on the spices, same reason I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin pie. Hope you try it. And congrats on your cauliflower win!
lapadia September 30, 2010
Congrats on being the runner-up, what an exciting few days this has been, shared with you and your delicious pie - which I definitely look forward to trying very soon; Honey Crisps are my fave and I believe from my state! My offer stands; look me up if you come back out to the PacNW, so that we can cook something up!
lapadia October 19, 2010
Hi Midge, FYI...I just made your pie it is delicious and was fun to make! Thanks for the recipe...
Midge October 20, 2010
Thanks, Lapadia. I'm so happy you liked it!
fiveandspice September 28, 2010
What an awesome pie! The brown butter move is inspired! As an - apparently - fellow JPite, I might just figure out where you live and come knocking at the door the next time I smell anything baking ;).
Midge September 29, 2010
Thanks fiveandspice! Actually live in Rozi, but come on over anytime!
eriin_83 September 28, 2010
I made this on Sunday afternoon. Fantastic way to spend a lazy fall day - truly delicious results. I swapped Gala's for the Cortlands because Cortlands aren't available in my area yet. I don't think the pie suffered for this. When I spoke of it to my family they agreed it reminded them of my great grandmother, who I'm told used to say "Apple pie without cheese is like a hug with out a squeeze." :o) Many thanks for sharing this recipe.
Midge September 28, 2010
What a great saying, and so true! I'm so happy you liked it. Love baking on Sunday afternoons too.
EmilyNunn September 26, 2010
I"m making this tomorrow.
Midge September 28, 2010
I'm so glad; hope you like it.
Maria T. September 26, 2010
Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau’s Once Upon a Tart cookbook is definetely one of my favourite books.
Congratulations on being a finalist and on the twist on the recipe.
Midge September 28, 2010
Thanks. It's one of my favorite cookbooks too.
Kayb September 26, 2010
I love a wedge of cheddar with an apple, or an apple pie; can't wait to try it in a crust, which it seems would lend itself wonderfully to all sorts of other fillings! Got my vote!
Midge September 28, 2010
Thanks Kayb. I think tomato would be pretty great too.
tara P. September 25, 2010
I love the mix of browned butter,cheddar and apples in the fall. I have some fresh picked Cortlands that are all ready for some piemaking!
Midge September 28, 2010
It is a great combo. Cortlands are awesome in pies, I think.
Jennifer A. September 24, 2010
congratulations, Midge! I cannot wait to try you recipe this weekend.
Midge September 28, 2010
Thanks so much Jennifer Ann. Hope you like it.
Petra N. September 24, 2010
This gets my vote! Both look good, but something about cheddar crust reminds me of my childhood.
Midge September 24, 2010
Thanks so much PetraN!
halfasiangirl September 24, 2010
This is a must try! Apple pie with browned butter is a fantastic idea. Congratulations on being a finalist :)
Midge September 24, 2010
Thanks! Hope you try it.