Brandy Apple Pie with Cheddar Pastry

The pie filled with apple slices

The pie filled with apple slices

My roots are in the lush pasture and laden orchards of Somerset. I love this time of year in the West Country, when the countryside turns bright green as the weather gets warmer. This pie uses some of Somerset’s most prolific ingredients; apples and cheddar cheese. Like the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar has a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) which means that it must be made in Somerset by European Law. The soil and climate are also perfect for growing apples; such is the abundance of the fruit, the local farmers brew gallons of invariably strong if variably tasty cider.

If I was a self-sufficient small-holder then this pie would use up the end of last autumn’s wrinkly apples from the pantry. Alas the only thing I am growing in my Norwich flat is a pepper plant on the window-sill, so I have bought some bramleys. The Idea came from the April chapter of The Times’ The Cookery Year, which accredits the custom of serving cheese with apple pie. I then tweaked the recipe by adding brandy and spices.

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/2 level teaspoon salt
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 110g strong cheddar cheese

For the filling:

  • 900g cooking apples
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg for glazing

Instructions:

  1. Cut the butter into small pieces and mix with the flour until crumbly.
  2. Add the salt, grated cheese and a little cold water and mix into a ball.
  3. Divide the pastry into two, roll one half into a sheet and line a 7 inch pie tin.
  4. Peel, core and slice the apples and lay them in the pie. Sprinkle over the sugar, spices and the brandy.
  5. Roll out the second half of the pastry, wet the edges of the lining and lay over the lid.
  6. Trim the edge, then crimp and decorate with the trimmings.
  7. Brush with a whisked egg, pierce an air hole in the top and bake for 35-40 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 220°C.

Crimped and Decorated

Crimped and decorated

The finished pie

In my excitement at cutting apple shapes out of the trimmings I completely forgot to pierce an air hole in the pastry lid, resulting in a big air pocket above the fruit. It ruined the aesthetic of the slice, but luckily it didn’t ruin the flavour. I cut the rest of the pastry trimmings into strips, glazed them and baked them for 20 minutes to make cheese straws. The top was very brown when I took them out, so I covered it with tin foil to stop it from burning.

The bite of strong cheddar along with the tartness of bramley apples is a real taste of Somerset. All I need now is a pint of scrumpey and the Wurzels on loud to transport me back to the West Country.

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8 thoughts on “Brandy Apple Pie with Cheddar Pastry

  1. What an incredible idea! We’ve been eating a lot of aged Irish cheddar around here lately, and my favorite snack is a sliced fuji or pink lady with some chunks of cheddar. And I want to come to Somerset someday.

  2. Hello Alfie. Have been given your blog by Susan V (a long time friend) in London and enjoying. As you are into food, and we are visiting Norwich the first week of May would be great to have a recommendation for somewhere to eat in the evening mid-week. Think you may have mentioned recently. Preferably with a good vegetarian option! Thanks.

    • Hi Nicola, Im glad you like the blog. I would reccommend either Tattlers or Farmer Brown’s on Tomblands for high end dining. The Bicycle Shop on St Benedicts St is cosy and a bit quirky, does a nice stuffed butternut squash. The best take away lunches in town are at Amaretto Deli which is opposite St Andrew’s Hall. But to top all of the above, my favourite food experience in Norwich is getting fish and chips at The Chip Shop on Stafford St, well known as the best chippy in the city, and eating them in the Fat Cat Pub just the other side of Dereham Road on Nelson St. This is the real ale drinker’s Mecca, having won the CAMRA good pub guide several times in the last ten years. There are probably ten local beers on tap and a good few of Weiss biers on tap too. Then in the back room they have another twenty odd ales on gravity, before you even get started on the continental bottled beers, fruit beers and ciders. Richard and Gus can attest to the standard of the bevvys! I hope this has been helpful and that you enjoy your stay in Norwich!

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