1- Apple Pie … Wonderful History:
Some could say that Americans should not consider apple pie their own or to make the dish a longstanding symbol of the country! Neither apples nor the pie is originally from America! But, do you agree with this opinion?!
Apple Pie’s Identity:
To make the Apple pie recipe, you will need apples, flour, butter, nutmeg, sugar, cinnamon, eggs, and lemon. With a simple search, you will find out that all of these ingredients ‘are not American’! Apples, for example, were domesticated first in central Asia (Kazakhstan). The butter and flour came from cows and wheat domesticated in the Middle East. The nutmeg and the cinnamon came from far-flung regions like New Guinea and Indonesia. The sugarbeets’ origins are from Poland. The egg is linked to the chicken which came, for the first time, from the jungles of Asia, where the lemon also originated. So, it is true! Yes! None of the ingredients in apple pie are originally from the US! But, you should know, also, that Korea’s kimchis, India’s curries, and all Asia’s famous spicy dishes brought their heat from chilies domesticated in Central America! Even pizza ‘the symbol of Italy’, its ingredients are not originally Italian!
In fact, the majority of the calories consumed in different regions over the world come from animals or crops domesticated far away! Over time, colonialism and trade have created such interdependence between countries. ‘The movement of ingredients’ from region to another, thus, does not mean that famous dishes should stay without identity! It does not mean that pizza is not Italian, or apple pie is not American! Even we humans, before spreading around the world, belong to the same birthplace in Africa, but we identify ourselves with the places we have ended up! You can be Indian, Italian, or ‘American as apple pie’!
The History of Pie From Ancient Egypt To America:
Pies first appeared about 9500 BC, in the neolithic age. These pies, invented by the ancient Egyptians, would have been filled with honey, as it is believed. Drawings found in the tomb of Ramses II in the Valley of the Kings, show, also, a sort of early pastry with fruits. However, many researchers think that it was the Greeks that invented the pie pastry in 1304 BC. They wrapped their meat in the past made just with flour and water to help seal in the savory juices of the meat. Later on, when the Romans conquered Greece, they carried on the galette tradition. And pie entered a new historical period.
The Romans, According to some historical documents, used different types of meat and fish like lampreys, mussels, and oysters in their puddings which resembled a lot to pies we know today. Roman pies were basically not sweet. However, In 160 BC, a Roman statesman called Marcus Porcius Cato, known as Cato the Elder, wrote a treatise that included one of the most delicious baked goods of his time called ‘Plăcintă‘. Placentas that looked like cheesecakes on our pastry base, were offered to the gods as a gift or even sacrifice. Historians think that the recipe was recorded for religious reason, considering the importance of gods, spirits, rituals, and sacrifices in Romans’ life.
We should thank spirits to protect the recipe for us!!!!!
Pie In Medieval England:
The Roman roads played a crucial role in the spread of the pie throughout Europe. By the 12th century, the famous recipe in England was mainly meat pie with a thick crust known as ‘coffin’. Yes, ‘coffin’! The horrible word which had not changed until the time of the American revolution when the term crust started to be used. The pie crust, made with oats, wheat, barley, and rye, was several inches thick to withstand the long-time baking. It was used to hold the filling as a container, and was not really meant to be eaten! To some extent, the old meat pie is baked nearly the same way we prepare casseroles with no pan today. Shepherd’s pie, made with meat and potatoes, was one of the famous pie recipes prepared by British women during this period. Historically, the term ‘pye’ meaning ‘meat or fish enclosed in pastry’, was included by medieval Latin in the 14th century, as noted by the Oxford English Dictionary.
In the 16th century, fruit pie appeared, and the first cherry pie was served to Queen Elizabeth I. The dish started to be made with new sweet fillings. In 1589, Robert Greene, the English author, wrote: “Thy breath is like the steeme of apple pies.” Sweet pies, but, also, strange pies were recorded during this period! New ‘animated pies’ appeared and became a trend for the wealthy! Pies that provided great entertainment by hiding living creatures like frogs, rabbits, turtles, and even small people inside them! In 1626, at an event for King Charles I, a tiny boy named Jeffrey Hudson was presented to the King and Queen Henrietta Maria, hidden in a large pie!
Pie Arrived To America:
In 1620, the pilgrims brought their pie recipes with them to America and started to adapt them with local ingredients. They made pies with wild berries, and as America moved west, they prepared them with vegetable fillings like sweet onions and tomatoes. The pie crust, however, still was not eaten, just like in the Roman times. By the 1700s, pies were nearly served with every meal in America and were filled with various ingredients. The first president of the US, George Washington’s favorite pie had a sweetbread filling!
Apple Pie In America:
Apple Pie became a staple in American cuisine:
When first arrived, settlers found that crab apples were the only native apples in the new world. The tiny ‘poor’ apples were intended for cider, and not eating or making pies! This is necessarily why Jamestown colonists brought apple tree seeds and cuttings from Europe. And the fruit started to blossom!
Over a few decades later, settlers ‘improved’ their land and planted more trees among which were apple trees. Hundreds of apple varieties appeared and many of them were perfect for apple pies. In 1759 a colonial visitor wrote home that “Apple pie is used throughout the whole year, and when fresh apples are no longer to be had, dried ones are used”. Also, The 1796 America’s first cookbook titled ‘American Cookery‘, by Amelia Simmons included two recipes for Apple pie. Americans started to eat apple pie more than any other variety. In fact, the beloved classic dessert did not take a long time to become a part of the Americans’ culinary repertoire.
Apple Pie became a part of American culture:
By the turn of the 20th century, apple pie has become so much a part of the culture in America. New York times published, in 1902, an article that considered it a food of the heroic “No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.” In 1912, a competition about apple pie, stipulated that “the contestants must be fifteen years of age and under and that all raw materials which entered into the making of the pies were to be assembled in the presence of the judges and the audience.” Apple pie, also, became a symbol of power for politicians in the country! In 1935, the state of New York sent 75 apple pies to the Capitol, to prove their superiority, when a quarrel with Oregon over who produced the best apples, took place in the congress. During World war II, the saying of patriotism “As American as Apple pie” took off to reflect the true value of ‘the most traditional dessert in America’.
After the war, the dish became more symbolic and more culture-bound. In 1951, Henrietta Nesbitt, Roosevelt’s White House head housekeeper, said in her Cookbook ‘Feeding the Roosevelt’s and Their Guests’ that “apple pie was the President’s preference among pies” and that it was “generally conceded to be the All-American favorite.”The quick development of the Modern food industry made pie-making simpler. The number of pie eaters became larger as instant puddings and pre-made crusts started to appear. In 1974, a commercial jingle described Americans’ culture as “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet, they go together in the good ol’ USA.”
Now, the American beloved pie is hugged and celebrated with pride. chocolate and pumpkin pie are fan favorites, but apple pie remains a symbolic dish with more presence in Americans’ life. In a survey, 19% of Americans said that apple pie is their favorite kind of pie!
Apple pie is American with overseas origins! It is an outgrowth of British, Roman, Greek, and Egyptian pie! It is woven from different histories, traditions, and cultures, just like the country in which different populations live and bake pies!!!!!!!!
2- Apple Pie … Best Recipe:
Now, I will share with you a homemade apple pie that can be considered as the most iconic pie of all time! The process is very simple but the results are just perfect!
2 1/2 cups all-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoon Sugar (optional)
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted Butter
1/2 cup Ice water
6 cups good cooking Apples
3/4 cup Sugar (you will need a little bit more sugar for sprinkling on the pie)
1/4 teaspoon Salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon Butter
1/4 cup Water
1 large Egg Yolk
Preparing The Pie dough:
First, combine dry ingredients; the flour, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl.
Slice the cold butter into small pieces and add them to your flour-salt mixture.
Work the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter to make your crust flaky (the clumps will be like small peas).
Sprinkle the mixture with 1 tablespoon ice water, and mix carefully. Do not add much water, just a tablespoon at a time to avoid a sticky mess. To test your dough, press some of it between your fingertips; if it sticks together, it is perfect.
On a clean work surface, pull the dough together with your hands, divide it in half and flatten to get two equal discs.
Wrap the discs in sheets of plastic wrap, and transfer them to your fridge. The relaxation period should take at least one hour before using them.
Preparing The Sauce:
Over medium heat, place a saucepan and melt the butter.
Add the flour, stir, and let simmer for about 45 seconds.
Add water, salt, and sugar whisking continuously.
Bring the mixture to a boil before you reduce the heat to continue simmering for about 5 minutes (mixing occasionally).
Once your caramel sauce is done, remove it off the heat, and let it cool while preparing the apples.
Preparing The Apple Pie Filling:
Peel your apples, cut them in a half, and remove the cores using an apple coring tool or just a small paring knife.
Once peeled and cored, slice them, put them in a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle them with lemon juice that will help keep them from turning brown.
Sprinkle the top with ground cinnamon, and stir well.
Now, add your beautiful sauce and stir to coat all the apple pieces.
Preparing and Filling The Pie Crust:
First, heat oven to 375°F.
Sprinkle your work surface with flour.
Remove the disks of dough from your fridge, unwrap the first one, and place it on the floured work surface.
Roll it out slowly to about a 13-inch diameter circle, and sprinkle more flour to keep the dough from sticking to your rolling pin.
Turn your pie dough a quarter turn, and keep rolling and rotating until the dough is nicely done (the dough should be no thicker than 1/4 inch).
Transfer it into your 9-inch pie pan using your rolling pin. Roll it up and onto the rolling pin before you gently unroll it onto the pan.
Trim the dough at the edges to about one-inch overhang, and fold it under itself to create a nice edge.
Using your hands, place all of the apple mixture inside the prepared bottom crust, and create a mound in the center. Do not forget to pour the juices at the bottom of the bowl over your apple.
Like the first one, roll out the second pie dough disk, and place it over the filling.
Trim excess dough, seal and flute the edges using a folk or with your thumb and forefinger.
Using a pastry brush, brush generously over all of the surface of the dough to provide the beautiful color required.
Sprinkle with sugar, and, using a sharp knife, cut a few slits in the top of the crust to let steam escape.
Baking The Apple Pie:
Transfer your apple pie to the center of your preheated oven, and bake at 350°F for about 50 minutes or until the filling is bubbling through the vents at the top. But, do not forget to tent the edges of your pie with aluminum foil during the first 20 minutes to avoid burning.
Let it cool for at least one hour before cutting into it and serving.
I hope this perfectly sweetened apple pie recipe will please you a lot! Believe me, You can not imagine how good your kitchen will smell during the preparation!