Apple Pie with a Cheddar Cheese Crust

I’ll be the first to admit that serving apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese is not necessarily a common thing to do and it certainly wasn’t a family tradition. In fact, I was a young adult when Uncle first told me about it. Since then, I’ve enjoyed apple pie with cheddar cheese several times although, to be honest, I’ll take vanilla ice cream before cheddar cheese any day. (I am my Mother’s son, after all.) Still, I was happy with my apple pie adorned with the occasional slice of cheddar until one day a few months ago. I was busy doing whatever and, in the background, there was a Food Network program on the TV. It was one of those shows I’ve grown to dislike, with people talking about how great some dish is at this diner or that restaurant without ever telling how it’s made. Well, I watch these programs to learn new techniques, to get recipes, to see a dish prepared. If I want to hear people talk about how good a dish is, I’ll go to a diner and survey the people eating at the counter. Anyway, a restaurant was mentioned that was known for its pie and which featured an apple pie with cheddar cheese in the crust. Aside from that comment and seeing some grated cheddar dumped into a commercial mixer, the actual recipe was left a mystery. Did I mention how much I dislike these shows? Anyway, my quest began that very day …

In the weeks that followed, I baked a number of test pies. I varied the amount of grated cheddar cheese in the crust from 2 to 6 ounces per crust. I adjusted the amount of fat in the crusts and even swapped spices in the filling. And left in my wake was a trail of apple pies that stretched from the shores of Lake Michigan to those of Lake Huron, not to mention devoted taste testers in both locales. In the end, I settled on using 4 ounces of grated, sharp cheddar cheese and 7 tbsp of fat per crust while, in the pie filling, I replaced nutmeg with cardamom. The result was a pie with a crust that was manageable when raw and, when baked, was relatively light with the distinctive — but not overpowering — taste of cheddar. Success!

With the cheddar question out of the way, let’s talk filling. Just like with our Thingamajig, I use both tart and sweet apples. For the sweet, I find that Fuji work best because they, like Granny Smiths, hold up well during baking. I prefer the apples in my pie filling to be in chunks rather than thinly sliced and that way they remain somewhat firm when baked. Once the apples are peeled, cored, and chopped, I heat them in a saucepan with some butter. All I’m doing is heating them through; I take them off the heat when their juices first begin to appear in the pan. I’ve found that this helps to prevent a finished pie that has a gap of over an inch between the apple pie filling and the crust “dome” above it. It’s important, though, to pull the apples off of the heat as soon as they start to render their juices and to cool them completely before assembling the pie. Cook them too long or fill the pie while they’re still hot and your apples will not be at all crisp when the pie has finished baking.

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No pie dome here!

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The Apple with a Cheddar Cheese Crust Recipe

Ingredients

  • For Apple Pie Filling
    • 6 Granny Smiths (or similar, tart apples) peeled, cored, and sliced evenly
    • 2 Fuji (or similar, sweet apple) peeled, cored, and sliced evenly
    • 3 tbsp lemon juice
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 1/4 cup raisins, soaked in hot water and drained (optional)
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup AP flour
    • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp cardamom (or nutmeg)
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • sugar
  • For Each of 2 Pie Crusts
    • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 3 tbsp vegetable shortening, cut into cubes and well-chilled
    • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes and well-chilled
    • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
    • 3 tbsp ice water, plus 1 tbsp, if needed
    • 1 tbsp cider vinegar

Directions

  • For apple pie filling
    1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the apple slices and lemon juice. Stir to coat the apples.
    2. In a sauce pan large enough to hold the apples, melt the butter over medium heat.
    3. Add the apples and sauté just until the apples begin to give up their liquid. Do not cook until the apples grow soft.
    4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt.
    5. Return heated apple pieces to large mixing bowl.
    6. Add the raisins, if using, and spice mixture to the apples and gently stir until the apples are coated evenly.
    7. Set aside to cool completely and until the pie crusts are ready.

  • For Pie Crust – Best if each crust is made individually in the food processor.
    1. Add flour, cheddar cheese, and salt to the processor. Pulse it a few times to combine the 3 ingredients.
    2. Add the very cold butter & shortening cubes.
    3. Pulse the machine 3 times, with each pulse lasting a 3-count. Your ingredients will now be lightly mixed. If need be, pulse again.
    4. With the machine running, add the vinegar and then slowly add the ice water. Do not add so much that a ball of dough forms. Remove the lid and, with your hands, test the dough to see if a ball of dough can be formed.
      1. If so, turn the dough until a very lightly floured service, form a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
      2. If a dough ball will not form, add a little more water, pulse the machine a couple of times, and test it again. When you can form a ball of dough, follow step A above.
    5. While the dough rests in the fridge, prepare the 2nd crust.
  • Assembly, to occur only after filling is cooled completely and pie crusts rested
    1. Pre-heat oven to 400.
    2. After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the fridge and roll it until large enough to completely cover the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan. Place the dough into the pan, trim any access, and return the crust and pan to the fridge until needed further.
    3. Roll out the 2nd crust, though slightly smaller, it must be large enough to cover the pie with a little excess.
    4. Retrieve the pie’s bottom crust from the fridge, fill it with the apple pie mixture, and cover it with the 2nd pie crust.
    5. Seal the pie by gently lifting the bottom crust’s edge while placing the top crust’s edge behind it. Work you way around the entire pie.
    6. Again, working your way around the pie, crimp the edge to further seal the pie.
    7. Use the egg to coat the top crust. Sprinkle with sugar. Use a sharp knife to create steam vents in the pie’s upper crust.
    8. Bake in a pre-heated 400* oven for 15 minutes. Without opening the door, lower the heat to 375* and continue baking for 40 – 45 minutes.
    9. After a total time of 30 minutes, and 15 minutes thereafter, check to see if the crust’s edge is too dark. If so, cover with aluminum foil and continue baking.
    10. When top is golden brown, remove pie from oven and place on a cooling rack. I always allow my apple pie to cool at least 2 hours before serving.

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Fresh from the oven

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Variations

This recipe is more concerned about the crust than it is the pie filling. So, if you prefer sweet apples, walnuts, or currants, use them. If you hate raisins, ditch them. If you don’t like or haven’t any cardamom, use nutmeg. In short, change the filling to suit your tastes. The same goes with the crust. If you find that adding cheddar to your favorite pie crust recipe makes a better pie, then please come back here and tell us about it.

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Notes

One last thing about the crust. Add too little cheddar and you won’t taste it; too much and the pastry dough is rendered unmanageable. And even under the best of circumstances, the cheddar cheese will affect the crust’s flakiness. So, it’s basically a trade-off. The trick is to add as much cheddar cheese flavor as you can without sacrificing too many of the crust’s better qualities. My taste testers and I agree that this recipe “works.” If you try it, I hope you feel the same way.

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62 thoughts on “Apple Pie with a Cheddar Cheese Crust

  1. Wow! Cardamom in a cheddar crust. I wouldn’t have thought of that, but I like cardamom: I’ll have to try it next time I make pie crust. I have made crusts with cheddar and/or Parmesan in them for quiches, usually with paprika and nutmeg (sort of like cheese straws in pie crust form). Your pie looks delicious — I’d be right over to join the tasters if I didn’t live several states away.

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    • I don’t wish to mislead you, Sharyn. I put the cardamom in the filling in place of nutmeg. But, now that you’ve mentioned it, maybe putting some in the crust would work, too — just not now. My tasters & I need a break from apple pie!

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      • Oops. I thought I read it in the crust ingredients as well…. Reading too fast, I guess. We could eat apple pie everyday around here, but someone has to make it for that to happen, and I’m saving my last Gravensteins for Thanksgiving pie.

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  2. John, I’m so impressed with your diligence and patience in testing all those pies!!! Just like your ice cream, I so wish I was one of your neighbors!! Your pie looks gorgeous! And I’m one of THOSE people who always peek at homemade apple pies to see if there is that dome space!! I’ve never had apple pie with cheddar cheese, tho I’ve heard about it. I like this idea of having it in the crust and can’t wait to try it out. Funny, I do like the shows w/o recipes as I enjoy trying to figure it out!!

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    • Thanks, Lynda. I must admit, although I won’t be baking an apple pie anytime soon, this was fun. And we just will never agree about those TV programs. They make too much work for my test kitchens, although my tasters don’t seem to mind. 🙂

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    • I’m not much of a baker either, David. If I were, I probably could’ve gotten away with 1 or 2 fewer test pies! Just took a quick look at your new blog site. It looks great. Congrats & good luck! I can’t wait to check it out more fully.

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  3. Too bad I’m not close enough to be a taste-tester! I would gladly offer my services! The addition of raisins is an interesting touch – two of my favorites together – apples and raisins! When in Indy last week we ate at a German restaurant and my entree was pork with a sauce of raisins, apples and walnuts. More about that in a later blog!

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    • Thank you. I love using raisins or currants for the little bit of sweet that they bring to the filling. That pork dish you described sounds delicious! I can’t wait for you to post the recipe.

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  4. There has got to be some kind of award out there for going to this much trouble to figure out a pie crust…maybe a job in Cook’s Illustrated’s test kitchen?
    Sounds wonderful, all the way around. And I really love the tip about warming the filling – I always wondered why I had gaps.

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    • Truth be told, if I were a better baker, past experience may have guided me to this end-result a little quicker. Still, apple pie is my favorite pie. A challenge like this one is right up my alley. I don’t know if I’d have been so dedicated had the filling been some other fruit. Briefly heating the apple chunks, not slices, really has helped me to get rid of the crust dome. I hope it works for you, too.

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  5. John’s persistence is one of his finest qualities. Let that be the case for Theo Epstein, too…but I digress. Awesome post and recipe, John — love the cardamom idea. I’ve used small (SMALL! SMALL!) amounts of fennel in apple pies that were intended to be eaten with a chunk of cheddar. Cardamom would be worlds better!

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    • Aw! Thanks, Gail. Having gone down this path before, all I will say — and most guardedly, at that — is that Theo does seem to know the right words to say to us long-suffering Cubs fans. My family uses fennel fronds like many use dill but never would I have thought to use some in a pie. Unfortunately, for now, the test kitchens are closed. We’ve had our fill of apple pie for a while. 🙂

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    • Believe me. I never would have thought to try it if I had not heard of that pie place on the Food Network. It really is a nice alternative to apple pie a la mode. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. 🙂

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  6. What a great looking pie, John. Such dedication to find the perfect blend for the perfect pie. Have you tried using smoked cheddar? It’s still got that sharp taste, but it’s also got the smoke, which is amazing. JT is a huge apple pie fan, so this will be on my list to try!

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    • Thanks, Greg. I’ve a friend who, I imagine, would fit in with Katherine’s family. He absolutely loves cheddar on his apple pie. I enjoy it, too, but only on occasion. I’ll take mine a la mode, thank you very much!

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  7. I grew up eating slices of apples with salt on them accompanied by slices of cheddar cheese so this title made me all warm and fuzzy! Talk about dedication with getting the ratio just right on the crust – well done on all of your hard work! The end result looks absolutely heavenly!
    Have a super day.
    🙂 Mandy

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    • Thank you, Mandy. Truth be told, this was a labor of love. I really do like apple pie and running these tests was heaven-sent. Well, until the very last one. That pie was tasty and all but it sure was hard to finish off. I had finally had my fill of apple pie. Imagine that! Have a great night, Mandy!

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  8. Love the idea of putting the cheese in the crust! The pie looks absolutely amazing! I’ve never had cheddar cheese with my apples, but I’ve heard really good things about it. Seems worth trying 🙂

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  9. Hi John, I just got finished catching up with all of your posts that I missed while traveling in Europe. First, let me thank you for the honor of the Leibster Award. It will take me a few days to catch up with everything and then is will fulfill the requirements. Secondly, the apple pie sounds delicious and will make a great addition for a Thanksgiving dessert.

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  10. Welcome home, Karen! First of all, you are very deserving of the award but there’s no need for you to rush to meet its requirements. Which brings me to Number 2: What are you doing here? You just got home. Relax. Put your feet up. Re-aclimate yourself and then come back here. We’ll wait. We’re a patient bunch. Now I must go to read your last post.

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  11. Well I must say! This looks grand. Please thank the taste testers for me and put me on the list! My Mum always ate her slice of apple with a slice of cheese on top, as do I. So this seems to me a perfect match. I shall make it. I also hate the dome of air above my apple and just the info as to how to overcome this problem was worth it. Lots of very good stuff in here as well as the recipe. I very much look forward to making this. So does John, as so far, your food is his favourite! (tho he is still waiting for his ricotta)..Love to Zia.. c

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    • Thanks, Celi, Zia will be tickled that you thought of her. I once saw a celebrity chef pre-cook his spiced apples before filling the pie. Well, much of the spice remained in the pan and the apple slices were mushy once the pie baked — but there was no dome. That Fall, I ran a couple tests and came up with the method in the recipe. It works for me, every time, and I’ve not had a dome since. Great that Your John enjoys the recipes. That, too, will give Zia a charge! 🙂

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  12. Now that is what I call a pie! Except I think your slice is a little too small. Literally serve me up half please.
    Not sure about eating a piece of pie with a hunk of cheddar cheese, but how about some Robusto instead? 😉

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    • It’s funny. At the start of this process, I was giving myself pieces of pie that would make an NFL lineman blush. They were huge. By the end, I wouldn’t even call them a sliver. It will be a while before I bake another, especially with you sharing those oatmeal recipes. HOWEVER, if there are Robusto involved, I might be persuaded to bake another pie. (Heck! I’d go to the orchard and pick the apples.)

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  13. Hello John! To be honest I’m not quite sure about the cheddar/apple pie situation, BUT if you say is good I will give it a chance and follow your recipe this weekend. Any suggestion on the cheese? Brand, age, color…?

    Thanks for sharing!

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    • Thanks, Giovanna, but I wish you’d try a piece of pie with a slice of cheddar before you go through the trouble of baking a pie that you may not like. I’d hate to be responsible for that wasted effort. As for the cheese I used, I bought a block of yellow, extra sharp cheddar cheese and grated it before weighing. If you decide to bake the pie, I salute your courage & good luck! 🙂

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  14. I remember the first time I saw a recipe for an apple pie with cheddar cheese. I was horrified. I’ve since come to enjoy the combo of apples and cheddar in sandwiches, so I’ve been thinking it’s about time to try it in a pie. If I take the leap, I’m going to use your recipe. It sounds just right. 🙂 And you have no idea how much I hope to hear Mr. N say someday that he is his mother’s son. 😉

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    • I, too, couldn’t see how it would work but it does! Putting the cheddar in the crust is just another way to get these 2 ingredients together. I think Mr N, and Miss A, will be singing the praises of you & Chef Dad. You guys have opened up the culinary World to them and, as a result. they’ll be comfortable in any setting where food is served, the World-over. That’s quite a gift and one that they’ll appreciate more and more as they mature.

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  15. Ah, yes! I’ve been waiting for you to feature this pie. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I love that you use apple chunks, instead of slices. The apple is much more prominent. A large slice of this pie would make me feel much better today. 🙂

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  16. Those shows drive me bonkers, too! Why would we want to see something delicious, here about how amazing it tastes, and then not be provided with the details needed to make it ourselves, and stuff our faces silly with it in the privacy of our own homes?! Woo – glad to get that out 🙂

    Happy you figured this pie out for us; I think it could easily find it’s way to my dessert table soon.

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    • Feel free to stop by for a rant anytime, Ashley. I’m glad to see I’m not alone about those shows. GRRRR! I’m glad I figured out the pie crust, too. My tasters and I were getting very close to our apple pie saturation points. We ate a lot of pie!

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  17. Oh my – am just mopping the dribble off my laptop now. This sounds incredible and I have to confess I´d go for cheese over ice cream! I MUST give this a go! Funnily enough, when I was in London I watched an episode of the new Jamie Oliver series about Great British Food (yes, it´s not a myth!) and he made a meat pie with cheese in it and I found myself thinking “I´d rather put the cheese in the pastry than in with the beef”..so maybe I could “steal” your crust recipe and put it with a meat pie…mmm, laptop is getting mucky again!

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    • “Steal?” Tanya, you can have any recipe in my possession, published or not. Your ketchup recipe has elevated my status around here, as has my canned jellies & jams. They, too, were made and canned because of you. “Steal my crust recipe?” I’d send you a pie and plenty of crust, if I could! Since I can’t, I’ll just give you my thanks and I hope the pie meets your expectations.

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  18. I’m truly lazy when it comes to making pies…I love them but they seem so troublesome, I speak of the crust of course. This pie intrigues me as I’ve always read about cheddar with apple in pies, but never tasted it. Your crust makes me want to actually make one, and the yummy shot of the pie slice is very compelling!

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    • I just happen to love pie. In June-July it’s sour cherry pie and in the Fall it’s apple all the way. Several years ago I decided to try making my own pie crust and I’ve been at it ever since. I’m no baker, by any means, so creating a pie with homemade crust gives me quite a sense of accomplishment. You should try it. 🙂

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  19. I think I could become a stalker over this pie. Seriously. I don’t think my husband would be amused though…with me stalking a friendly blogger to get ahold of a slice of pie. I’m so impressed that you came up with the amount of fat to cheese on your own through trial and error. That’s persistence! This pie truly looks extraordinary…I’m on my way to google your address now…you may want to watch out.

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    • Honestly, Geni, had you been here a few weeks ago, at the tail-end of our testing, I would have gladly given you all the pie you wanted. As much as i love apple pie — and I really do love it — I was approaching my limit. Now, that’s a lot of pie! Thanks for dropping in!

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  20. I was waiting for this one. Thank you so much for sharing it and I have to say I love the color of the baked pie. Another big thank you for the tip about the dome,I have some apples waiting to be turned into pie and I am looking forward to trying out your recipe

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    • Yes, the cheddar does help to give the pie crust a great color, doesn’t it? Good luck baking this pie. I do hope you’ll let me know what you think of it and any suggestions that you might have for improving it. The World needs a good apple pie with a cheddar cheese crust! 🙂

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  21. So sorry I could not live closer to give your taste testers a break. This sounds really tasty.Looks like the perfect autumn offering, too, the color so rich.
    I think you should have your own Food Network show, “from the Bartolini Kitchens.” Now that would be something to watch! Worthwhile to tune into and get great recipes, too. I don’t get cable but when I would visit the family, I used to love to indulge in the Food Network. Not much to watch it seems these days. Too many competitions and frantic, choppy, presentations. I want to watch and learn to cook better.
    I am not a good pie baker and once took a class at our local Food Glorious Food down the street. I brought the unbaked pie home in a bakery box that evening. Would you believe my oven flashed ERROR and would not bake? In the morning I took the pie to school and baked it in the Art Room as I had a stove and oven in the corner that we used for the After School Program. The whole school smelled delicious and everyone was going crazy trying to find the source of the apple pie fragrance. It was a lovely day.
    Just wanted to share that funny story about apple pie.

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    • Oh, Ruth. There’s no better way to start the day than with a cup of coffee & a chuckle. Today you supplied the chuckle. I bet your heart sank when your oven flashed ERROR after going through all of that trouble. I, too, am not a baker. I decide I’d like to bake something and stick to it until it is good enough to serve to others. Of course, that means I eat an awful lot of rejects in the process. It took me so many attempts to make a good Black Forest Cake that I never did serve it to anyone. I couldn’t stomach making another!
      You’re right about the Food Network. It’s not what it used to be. It seems to be more interested in flash & celebrity rather than substance. Still, I don’t think they’d be ready for a show with me in it! (That was another chuckle.) I keep kidding my Aunt, Zia, that MGM (Metro Goldwyn Mascarpone) will be calling soon to make the movie “Zia & Johnny.” With every recipe I post or call to ask her about, I tell her it’s “the one” and to expect that call.
      Thank you so much, Ruth, for taking the time to comment and, in so doing, get my day started on the right foot. I hope that I can do the same for you sometime.

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        • Yes, I had a piece in a cafe in Berlin in 1990. I was visiting friends and they took me to a place on a Sunday morning. Not able to speak German, one of them suggested I try the strudel and he pointed to the Apfelstrudel in the menu. As good as it was, the “f” in the name is what caught my eye and probably the only reason I remember it’s actual name and not as “apple strudel.” Ask me what I had for lunch last Monday and it would take me a couple of hours to remember, but, Apfelstrudel? Sure I remember. 🙂

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  22. What a brilliant recipe, I have to try it. In Yorkshire we ate cheese with apple pie, and also with Christmas cake, which people think is rather odd, but it tastes great. I don’t usually cook my apple at all in an apple pie but I love the way yours look.

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    • Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I need to revisit that recipe. I found some cheddar cheese powder at a newly-discovered spice shop near here. I bet it would add cheddar cheese flavor without affecting the pie crust nearly as much as using the actual cheese. Let the testing begin!

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  23. WOW! This is the best apple pie I have ever seen! I love the cheddar cheese crust! And the mixture of granny smith and fuji apples. It looks so delicious!

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