The History of Apple Pie

An apple pie is a baked dish that includes sliced apples for its main filling ingredients. It can be served with cream, powdered sugar, cheddar cheese, or ice cream. It has a circular upper crust that can be solid or latticed with woven or crosswire pastry strips. Some bakers prefer to bake the bottom crust separately to prevent it from getting soggy.

It can also be made using different kinds of apples. Popular cooking apples include Gala, Cortland, Bramley, Empire, Braeburn, and McIntosh. They can be fresh, canned, or dried. However, dried apples are only usually used when fresh fruit is unavailable. An apple pie filling generally includes butter, sugar, and cinnamon. There are times when lemon juice or nutmeg are added, and sometimes honey is used instead of sugar. Meanwhile, if you love eating pastries, you may also find this guide on making tarts interesting.

Apple pie is one of the signature comfort foods in the United States as well as the country’s unofficial symbol. But did you know that it did not originate in America? If you’d like to learn about where apple pie came from, read on as we’re giving you the history of apple pie. If you want to know how to make no-bake homemade candies, we also provide some guides.

Apple Pie Origin

Homemade autumn apple pie, top view corner border over a rustic wood background

King Richard II’s master cooks compiled recipes in a cookbook in 1930 called “The Forme of Cury.” In that book, the first known recorded recipe of apple pie was found, which was written by Samuel Pegge in 1381. In the middle ages, the apple pies differed significantly from the ones that most people bake at the present time. Back then, sugar was very expensive for a regular household. Therefore, fruits like figs, apples, raisins, and pears were the only sweeteners they used.

Another remarkable characteristic of the original apple pie is the crust. In the middle ages, it was common to wrap food in a grain shell that could also be eaten. With that, most pastries in the 14th century, including apple pies, were placed in a grain container called a coffin, which means chest or box. It protected the contents from being spoiled, and it could also be used as a plate, which was convenient for sailors and soldiers.

By the early 16th century, the Dutch began to share the English love for apple pie. They added the lattice-style crust and crumbled toppings that modern Americans know and love. At the same time, the French created their own version of the apple pie, which used fewer ingredients. Unlike the Dutch apple pie, their version does not have a streusel topping but rather a layer of sweet bread crumbs.

Evolution of Apple Pie

Apple pie with lattice crust

Sugar cane cultivation became widespread in the mid-16th century as it became more readily available in Europe. The access of bakers to sugar allowed them to experiment with various pastries. Soon after that, sweet and savory pies became available in different parts of Europe, including Germany, Italy, and France. Also, edible coffins added a new texture and taste to apple pies and other pastries. These increased the popularity of apple pies in Europe.

The love of people for apple pies was evident in the literature during those times. In 1590, there was a work titled Arcadia by an English dramatist named Robert Greene, wherein he complimented his lady friend by saying, “Thy breath is like the steam of apple pies.”

Introduction of Apple Pie in America

apple pie

The first colony at Jamestown, Virginia, was first established by England in 1607. After 13 years, the pilgrims, who founded Plymouth, Massachusetts, arrived in 1620. When they first arrived in America, the only indigenous tree of the Malus genus they could find was the crab apple. They found it to be a far cry from the apples they usually had eaten back home, as crab apples were too sour to eat and were more minor.

During colonial times, the first European explorers did not eat apples but instead used them in making the alcoholic variety of cider. The solution was to transport apples from Europe through tree cuttings and seeds. The initial problem was pollination, which made it difficult for the trees in North America to bear fruit. But this was solved when European honey bees were introduced. After that, colonists began growing their domesticated apples in the country.

Interesting Facts about Apple Pies

Apple Pie

1. Originated from England.

The first apple pie recipe originated in Great Britain, over 630 years ago, in 1381. Lots of apples, spices, figs, raisins, pears, and saffron were among the ingredients.

2. Sugar Wasn’t Used Originally.

The early English people didn’t use sugar to make pies as it was pretty expensive. That is why they used sweet fruits like figs, raisins, pears, etc.

3. The Early American Pies Had a Take Off The Crust.

In the beginning, apple pies had a “take-off” crust. The apples were first baked in a crust. The top crust was then removed, and sugar and spices were added. The pie was served with the top crust replaced.

4. The West Settlers Made “Mock Apple Pie.”

The American west settlers made mock apple pie because they didn’t have apples, so they used crackers and special spices and thought it tasted like real apple pie. Some people still make mock apple pie today.

5. It Existed Even Before the Pilgrims Landed in the United States.

The apple pie existed even before the pilgrims arrived on the Eastern shore of what is currently known as the United States. The Americans were lyrical about how unique the American pie is. That is why the phrase “as American as apple pie” has been used since the early 1900s.

6. The World War II Soldiers Were Often Quoted Fighting For “Mom and Apple Pie.”

The soldiers of World War II used to say that they were fighting for mom and apple pie. The advertisers capitalized on the patriotic connection in 1970 with the commercial jingle, “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.” 

7. The Granny Smith Apple Pie Came From “Maria Ann Smith.”

The Granny Smith Apple Pie Came From Maria Ann Smith.

Maria Ann Smith was an inspiration for the name Granny Smith. Mrs. Smith was well-known for her fruit pies, and the Smiths were apple farmers. She accidentally crossed a wild European crabapple with a more commonly grown orchard apple to make a new type of apple.

The Evolution of Apple Pies

In the 18th and 19th centuries, settlers populated their lands with apple trees to ensure a steady supply of apples for making cider. In addition, planting apple trees allowed them to meet the requirements for preserving a land claim. Different kinds of apple pies became popular during the 1799s, including Marlborough pudding and apple pudding.

Amelia Simmons included an apple pie recipe in her cookbook in 1796. She also had recipes for buttered apple pie and Marlborough pudding. Her recipes contributed mainly to the popularity of apple pie in America during the Civil War era.

However, at the end of the 18th century, settlers who owned lands in the Northwest Territory had issues transporting apple tree seedlings to their farms. But it was solved by John Chapman or Johnny Appleseed by planting apple trees in favorable soil near areas where the government granted land claims. He started his business towards the end of the 18th century. 

He planted lots of apple trees in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. That was why he earned the nickname Johnny Appleseed. When the 1800s came, America had 14,000 varieties of apple, which made apple pies even more popular.

Conclusion

It is fantastic to know that apple pies have existed since the middle ages. Since it was introduced in the United States, it has ingratiated itself in the culture of the English-speaking world. Even though the world today is growing increasingly health-conscious, the sales of apple pies do not decline. Each year, grocery stores in the United States can sell around 186 million pies. And based on a survey done by the American Pie Council, one in five Americans prefers to eat apple pie. We hope this helped you learn more about the fascinating apple pie history. If this topic interests you, you may want to read some unusual topping ideas to dress up ice cream.