Maple Bourbon Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust & Bacon Streusel

When you want to raise the bar and set a new record this is a go-to winner every time.  This pie is really as special as the name suggests. I recently served it as the grand finale for Sausage Fest. As you may imagine this is more than a meal it’s really more like an event. My family celebrates this much loved fest on an unspecified date, but always during the holiday season—that 6-week span beginning around Thanksgiving, and ending only after we drop into a collective feast-induced coma. Therefore, there’s no reason to hold back on the dessert course. This is a walk-off home run.
Makes one 10” deep-dish pie
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp ground cayenne
8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 oz sharp Cheddar, grated (about ¾ cup)
3 Tbsp ice cold water
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water

3 lbs. sliced pie apples such as Northern Spy, Cortland, Empire, or Jonathan
2 Tbsp bourbon
½ cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp finely chopped candied ginger

Bacon Streusel
6 slices smoked bacon
¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
½ cup Turbinado sugar (or brown sugar)
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Sift together the dry ingredients into a bowl, and stir them to distribute evenly. The butter should be taken directly from the refrigerator, and cut into small pieces.

Cut the butter into the dry mixture with a pastry cutter or a fork until the mixture includes lumps of flour and butter the size of peas.

Stir in the grated cheese and distribute evenly. Add the water, and move quickly using your fingertips to work it into a pliable pastry.

Flatten it into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour. This will relax any gluten that developed in the pastry, make it more manageable, and improve its flavor. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator 15 minutes before you wish to use it. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board using a rolling pin that has been lightly floured. Roll to an even thickness about ⅛ inch. Wrap the pastry around the rolling pin and unroll it onto the pie plate.

Trim the pastry ½ inch beyond the rim of the plate. Use a pastry brush to dampen the edge with cold water and fold it inward. Work up a collar that stands above the rim, and flute the edge. Do this by pushing a knuckle into the outside of the pastry collar against the tips of the index finger and thumb of your other hand. Place the pie shell in the freezer if you are not going to fill it immediately.

Fry the bacon until crisp, drain on absorbent paper, crumble or chop the bacon into pieces about ½ inch across, and reserve. Mix the flour and sugar together in a bowl until evenly distributed. Work the butter into the flour with your hands until it is crumbly. Add the crumbled bacon and rub it quickly into the mixture.Peel, core and slice the apples into a large bowl. A mixture of several types of apples will make a better pie. Each has a different flavor and level of acidity. Experiment with different combinations to discover your personal favorite. Toss the apples with the candied ginger and cornstarch to coat evenly. Add the maple syrup and bourbon and toss together. Paint the inside of the prepared pie shell with the beaten egg to seal the crust. Prick the pastry in several places with a fork so it doesn’t bubble up during baking.Pile the apples into the pastry. Settle the apples by pushing down gently to remove air pockets and voids.Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the pie’s surface.Bake on the bottom shelf of a preheated 375° oven for 55 to 60 minutes. You want the heat to pass up through the pie. If baked on an upper shelf the heat will radiate off the ceiling of the oven and cause the topping to burn. If the topping starts to darken more than you’d like, cover it loosely with foil. The pie is done when bubbly in the center.Allow the pie to cool to room temperature before serving so that it can set. If you wish to serve it warm, place it in a moderate oven for a few minutes to warm it up.

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