Heirloom apple pie and Vermont cheddar cheese, a perfect pairing.
It’s lunch time and poor us, all we have to eat is a fresh-baked apple pie filled with the last of the apples gleaned in the fall — Bramley’s Seedling, England’s favorite baking apple originating in the early 1800s; Northern Spy a 1800s seedling from New York; and one of my favorite baking apples – Rhode Island Greening, a colonial apple from about 1650 discovered in Green’s End, Newport where a Mr. Green ran a tavern. The farm’s cooler has been turned off since December, yet these old timey apples are still firm and have held up wonderfully in long months of storage.
Bramley’s Seedling, England’s favorite heritage baking apple
My husband, David Tansey, loves making pie and because he is such a good pie crust maker I have stayed away from the task until now. I begged him for his recipe at breakfast and parcel it together but ask him to roll out the dough as it seems too wet (he knew it was just fine).
Northern Spy, a beautiful American heirloom apple perfect for a pie.
When my mentor left for work, I forged ahead with the filling making things up as I went along. In the refrigerator I found the balance of a small bottle of iced cider from the Monteregie region of Quebec and used it to moisten peeled apple slices letting them mull around in the sweet scent of concentrated fermented cider while I fiddled with the dough. Just before topping the pie I realize I haven’t added any flour or sugar to the mix of apples and sprinkle a tablespoon of each over the mound of slices. Simple.
Calville Blanc d’Hiver, the classic French baking apple has a crown shaped base. It is my absolute favorite when baking a tarte tatin.
The pie, much to my delight, is a success. My husband admires the way it looks it from the time he arrives home for lunch. Admires it more when he tucks into a slice. And says all things yummy when I suggest he try a bite with a piece of Grafton’s clothbound cheddar attached to his forkful of apples and crust. We are both beaming. The cheese adds a sharp tangy crumbly bite cutting into the sweet sureness of apple, flavors melding into a taste sensation. We try the same effect again with a creamy cheddar from Shelburne Farms, not as sharp but just as nice with the pie. Tasting the clothbound cheddar again I tell David the cave-aged mushroom mustiness would be an excellent foil to the carmalized sweetness of a tarte tatin made with Calville Blanc d’Hiver, a fine French cooking apple dating to 1598. We vow to do just so when the new crop of apples are ready for harvest.
So many heirloom apples to pick from – indeed what variety to put in the pie.
Please ask Jane Booth for permission to reproduce her copyrighted photographs and/or writing. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Jane has spent a good part of her career photographing and writing about gardens and small farms for Gardens Illustrated, Yankee Magazine, Country Living, Country Living Gardens, Better Homes & Gardens, New Old House Journal, and Cape Cod Home where she produced an ongoing column and feature stories.
David Tansey is the founder of The Landmark Trust USA and past president of Landmark and The Scott Farm. He was involved in every step of revitalizing Landmark Trust USA and Scott Farm properties and loves using heirloom apples when he bakes a pie.