Even with the heat and humidity of late, nothing pumps me up for fall like the State Fair.
The smells, the visuals and sounds of the rides all leave me excited about the change of seasons.
I know most folks go crazy over the pumpkins, but apples, and an apple pie, spell fall at my house, and this recipe is over the top.
Everything that’s good when paired with an apple is in this recipe: cheddar cheese, bacon and caramel.
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With the pie being free form, it also is extremely eye-catching. You can use either a grill of any kind – gas, charcoal and especially a Kamado-style grill (like a Green Egg) – or the oven to bake this pie. I usually throw a few chunks of apple wood in with the charcoal just to add another dimension when using a grill.
You can use pears, too, or a combination of apples and pears. Around the holidays, I’ll stir in some dried cranberries to the filling. Baking the crust right on a stone adds some nice texture to the pie.
Why two pies? You’ll be glad you did when you see how fast they go. If your baking stone is too small to do both at one time, bake them separately, but allow a few minutes for the stone to reheat between baking. Don’t let the length of the recipe worry you. It comes together easily.
Serve with: This is a great fall dessert for most any hearty meal, and thinking ahead, if you use the grill, frees up space in the oven for Thanksgiving. Definitely serve with some high-quality vanilla ice cream.
To Drink: A little dessert wine to class it up. I like a Tokay.
Rustic Apple Pie with a Bacon Cheddar Crust with Salted Caramel-Cider Syrup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup ice water
2 slices thick-cut bacon, finely chopped and frozen
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices and frozen
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon canola oil
6 Granny Smith apples cut into quarters, cored and thinly sliced
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn meal
20 caramels, unwrapped
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Make the crust: Dissolve the salt into the water. Take the frozen bacon and toss with the flour to coat. Put the flour and the bacon into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until coarse crumbs form.
Add the cheese and butter into the flour and bacon mixture and pulse a few times. Pour in the salted water and pulse the machine until a dough develops.
Flour a work surface and remove the dough from the food processor. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and shape into discs. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour, though you can do this up to three days in advance.
Make the filling: Stir together corn starch, vanilla and water until smooth.
In a large sauté pan, melt the butter with the oil over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally until lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes.
Add the brown sugar, lemon juice and salt to the apples. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook another minute or two until the liquid thickens. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Light your grill using your favorite method, or preheat your oven to 375 degrees. When the temperature reaches 375 degrees, add a baking stone directly on the grill grates or oven rack and allow to heat up for about 10 minutes. Adjust your grill to maintain the heat.
Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Lightly flour the surface and your rolling pin. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll into 2 1/4-inch thick rounds. Transfer the rounds to the baking sheet. Divide the filling between the 2 rounds leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the dough from the border up and around the apples. The center will be open.
Beat together the eggs and water to form an egg wash. Brush this over the dough and sprinkle with the sugar.
Dust the baking stone with the corn meal. Slide the pies onto the baking stone and close the lid. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.
Make the sauce: Meanwhile, place the caramels in a microwave-safe bowl with 1 tablespoon of water. Microwave for 1 minute and stir until smooth. Stir in the salt and vinegar. Drizzle over the pies. Serve with ice cream if desired.
Yield: Makes 2 9-inch pies