An apple pie is a baked dish that includes sliced apples as 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. Some of the 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 not available. The filling of an apple pie generally includes butter, sugar, and cinnamon. There are times when lemon juice or nutmeg are added, and sometimes honey is used in place of sugar.
Apple pie is one of the signature comfort foods in the United States, and 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.
Apple Pie Origin
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 use.
Another remarkable characteristic of the original apple pie is the crust. In the Middle Ages, it was a common practice to wrap food in a grain shell that can 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 can 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
The cultivation of sugar cane 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
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 that they usually had eaten back home, as crab apples were too sour to eat and were smaller.
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 own domesticated apples in the country.
The Growth of Apple Pies
In the 18th and 19th centuries, settlers populated their lands with apple trees to make sure that they have a steady supply of apples for making cider. In addition to that, 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 included recipes for buttered apple pie and Marlborough pudding. Her recipes contributed largely 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.
It is amazing 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. In fact, 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.