This weekend my family is coming to Wilmington, traveling from places as far flung as Ireland and New Orleans, for a week of Thanksgiving fun. Three of my five siblings (and their families) will be in town, plus my parents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. We’ll be baking biscuits, roasting oysters, watching toddlers wrestle, playing football in the park (the “we” on that one is pretty loose), toasting to new engagements, and enjoying the experience and madness of being together.
The pressure of helping to host Thanksgiving in a house where the paint is still drying (that’s only kind of a joke) has been a great motivator in getting things done. This week we stripped the wallpaper off another room, primed and painted walls, hung quarter round over the kitchen cabinets, painted the trim and rolled seven doors and door frames, and hung a serious amount of art all over the house. What is it about getting art on the walls that makes it feel like YOUR HOUSE all of the sudden? We’ve almost reached the point where I won’t be embarrassed to host my sister’s engagement party (assuming everyone has enough champagne not to look at the trim too closely).
One of my favorite events of the holidays is the whole family White Elephant gift exchange. We’ve honed the rules and routine over the course of a few decades and it’s quite the event. The stakes are high, and deciding what gifts to add every year comes with a lot of pressure- nobody wants to gift the dud. Thankfully this year I had a new cookbook published and (family spoiler ahead!) I’ll be including a copy in one of our gifts.
This recipe from The Southern Cast Iron Cookbook will also have a place in our holiday extravaganza, most likely on the Thanksgiving table itself. Apple pies with a little gouda grated into the crust, baked in a cast iron biscuit pan for the optimal crispy edges, are one of my favorite autumnal desserts. They’ll be the first dessert baked in my new kitchen, and I can’t think of a better occasion for its grand debut.
Apple & Gouda Skillet Pies
For the dough
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cubed smoked Gouda cheese
¾ cup (1½ sticks) salted butter, cubed
3 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 egg, beaten
For the filling
4 tablespoons salted butter
6 honey crisp or pink lady apples, skin on, cored and sliced ½ inch thick
4 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the dough
- In a food processor, combine the flour, Gouda, butter, sugar, and sea salt. Pulse until everything is crumbled and roughly resembles the texture of cornmeal.
- While pulsing, add the water 1 tablespoon at a time until a dough ball forms. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
To make the filling
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In your skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter.
- Stir the apples into the melted butter.
- Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
- With the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, grease the wells of the biscuit pan.
- On a floured surface or a silicone baking mat, roll out 7 chunks of piecrust dough, each into a 5-inch circle about ¼ inch thick, and press 1 into each well. Fill each with equal amounts of the apples.
- Roll out the remaining dough ¼ inch thick and, with a circular piecrust dough cutter, cut out 7 (4-inch) rounds. Top each pie with one, joining the bottom crust with the top and pinching off any excess. Cut 3 or 4 (1-inch) slits into each pie top.
- Brush the top of each pie with beaten egg.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until browned and bubbling.
- Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before gently removing the pies from the pan. Serve warm.