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Apple pie with cheddar crust

I know it sounds a bit weird but trust works...lush apple filling inside a savour cheddar pastry...yum!

For the pastry:

75g (3oz) mild cheddar cheese, grated

225g (8oz) plain (all purpose) flour

100g (4oz) butter, softened  (if you prefer you can use half lard, half butter)

For the filling:

1800g (2lbs) apples - this can be all eaters or half eaters and half cooking apples

1 level tablespoon fine semolina

75g (3oz) sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 large egg, beaten - to glaze

First make the pastry. Put the flour into a large bowl then add the butter and lard (if using) cut into small pieces, rubbing the fat into the flour with your fingertips until it reaches the crumbly stage.

Now add the grated Cheddar and enough cold water to make a soft dough that leaves the bowl clean (about 3 tablespoons). Then turn it out on to a board, knead it briefly and lightly, then wrap it in clingfilm and leave it to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, peel, quarter and core the apples and then cut them into very thin slices straight into a bowl, mixing the two varieties together.

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C). Next take a little less than half of the pastry and roll it out very thinly to about 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter to line the base and sides of the pie dish. Trim the edges and leave unused pastry aside for the trimming. Then scatter the semolina over the base of the pastry and after that pile in the apple slices, building up the layers closely and scattering in the sugar and spices as you go. Then press and pack the apples tightly.

Now roll the remaining pastry out, again very thinly, to make the lid, this time 16 inches (40 cm) in diameter. Brush the rim of the base pastry with a little beaten egg and carefully lift the lid over the top. Press the edges together to get a good seal all round, then trim using a knife. Finally gather up the trimmings and re-roll them to cut out into leaf or round shapes if you like. Brush the surface of the pie with beaten egg, make a small hole in the centre the size of a 10p piece (to allow the steam to escape) and arrange the leaves on top.

Now using the back of a small knife 'knock up' the edges then flute them using your thumb and the back of a knife. Now brush the whole lot with beaten egg then place the pie on the baking sheet and bake on a high shelf for 10 minutes. After that reduce the temperature to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C) and cook for a further 45 minutes or until it has turned a deep golden brown. Then remove the pie and allow it to stand for at least 20 minutes before serving.


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