In honor of Pi Day 2012 I've created Apple Pear Pie(s) in Cheddar Crust. Folks, meet 2 Pi R Squared!
(Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated)
Step 1: Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
pinch to 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
16 Tbsp. unsalted butter (2 sticks) cut into pieces and chilled
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
Put flour, sugar, salt, and cayenne in bowl of food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Add shredded cheddar, pulse again to mix. Add chilled butter pieces, pulse about 8 times until pieces are about the size of peas. Add ice water through feed tube while pulsing, adding just enough until dough barely comes together. Remove from food processor, combine dough to make one oval, split in two equal halves, form each half into a 4-inch round, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough rounds for at least 1 hour, up to 3 days. (To make two square pies you will need another half of this recipe.)
Roll out each round of dough into a 12-inch circle, fit one into pie (or square tart) pan, trimming as needed. Leave one circle flat, transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate both for at least half an hour.
Step 2: Pie Filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 1/2 lbs. apples, peeled, cored, quartered, and thinly sliced (I used a mixture of Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Gala.)
1 1/2 lbs. ripe pears, peeled, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced (I used red and green D'Anjou)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
In a large bowl combine the sugars, lemon zest, salt, and cinnamon, mix well. Add sliced apples and pears, toss to combine. Place mixture in large dutch oven, cook, covered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, until apples and pears are fork tender, but hold their shape, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 30 minutes.
Place cooled fruit in a colander set over a large bowl. Drain as much juice as possible, discard juice. Toss apples and pears in colander with lemon juice.
Step 3: Assembling the pie
1 large egg white mixed with 1 Tbsp. water, beaten lightly
food coloring (optional, mix in with egg white and water)
Set oven rack to lowest position, place a baking sheet on rack while preheating oven to 425 F.
Remove other dough round from refrigerator and cut out shapes of your choice with cookie cutters.
Spread apples and pears evenly in pie dish. Top with cut out dough, brush cutouts with beaten egg white.
Place assembled pie in oven on preheated baking sheet and bake 45 to 55 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking, until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. If crust browns too much during baking (the cheese in dough can burn) cover with foil. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool at least 1 1/2 hours. Serve.
Bonus: Extra cheddar dough makes great crackers. Either use leftover cutouts, or use a pastry cutter to cut leftover dough strips into small shapes. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Bake at 375 F for about 20 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking, until crackers are golden brown. Let cool then enjoy.