Ask anyone about the origins of the apple pie, and they are sure to answer you: America! However, the apple pie is not as American as it seems to be! If you look at the history of the apple pie, you willA find that the apple pie actually originated in England!
Yes, you heard it right. The apple pie has historical and cultural influences that go way beyond what you can imagine. So read on to find out more about the incredibly delicious and a national favourite.
The major ingredients and culinary influences:
Culinary influences from France, the Netherlands, and the Ottoman Empire have drastically shaped the apple pie that we know of today. In fact, it was the Europeans who took apples to North America in the first place. Until then, only crab apples would grow in the continent. And since crab apples are really shrunken and sour, most people would not even consume them. So using them for pastry could not even be thought of!
In fact, not just apples; but a lot of ingredients that go into the dish come from places other than America. Wheat, to begin with, originated in the Middle East. Pastry fats, such as butter and lard, came to America only when Christopher Columbus brought domesticated cattle to the New World. Sri Lanka and Indonesia take credit for important spices, such as cinnamon, Anisette Toast Biscotti and nutmeg. And looking at the very art of pastry itself; it is not as American as it seems to be. Rather, French, Italian and Arabic cultures have greatly contributed to the art of pastry.
The history of the apple pie:
Most British pies of those times were savoury, though sweet fruit based pies were not that uncommon. In fact, one of the very first recipes appeared in England in Samuel Pegge’s The Forme of Cury in 1390. However, the British and the Dutch take credit for having modified the recipe and perfecting it.
But then how did the dish become so popular in America? In fact, why is it so popular that it is almost considered to be a national and patriotic symbol now?
Eventually, Europeans brought the apple pie to the colonies, and the dish quickly gained popularity from there on. In fact, two recipes for the dessert appeared in America’s first cookbook; and even during the Civil War, the dish was widely popular. It is perhaps the ease with which the recipe can be made, its affordability and its wide adaptability that has made it so popular across the globe. Apple pie later went on to become a staple in the American cuisine, and with the advent of advertising and news in the 20th century; the dish was transformed into a national symbol. It was also around this time that the phrase ‘as American as apple pie’ started to become popular.
Gradually, the apple pie also began to be associated with the US government, which only increased its popularity. This also greatly contributed to it being counted as an American symbol. Moreover, the apple pie was also considered to be the preference of the then president Franklin Roosevelt from among all pies, which led to the notion that it was the all-American favourite pie. Lastly, when the world was shook by the WW II, the American soldiers began claiming that they were fighting for ‘mom and apple pie’. This assertion was the final step to establishing the dessert as a metaphor for the United States.
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Making the perfect homemade apple pie
Thanks to the plenty of apple pie recipes available all over the internet, making an apple pie at home is an easy task!
Here is a full proof recipe of an apple pie, including a delicious apple pie filling for you to try. And if you are craving for a delicious apple crumble pie, simply freeze some of the apple pie dough. Once frozen and solid, break it in chunks and put it on top of the filling before baking.
Apple pie recipe:
- Apple pie dough:
2 ½ cups maida
4 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
200 grams butter, cold and diced
1 large egg
- Apple pie filling:
750 grams baking apples
2/3 cup caster sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
¼ tsp nutmeg powder
- Start by making the dough. Combine all the dry ingredients together, add in the butter. Use your fingertips to break the butter into small pieces. Make sure that the butter coats all of the flour.
- When the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, add in the egg to combine the dough and bring it together. Do not over knead.
- Shape into a disc, cover in plastic wrap and freeze for an hour.
- Prepare the filling next. Core, peel and chop the apples. Mix them with the lemon juice and sugar and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the apple sugar mix to it. Cook till the sugar dissolves and the apples soften, for about 10 minutes.
- Strain the mixture if it is too liquidy, or else you will end up with a really soggy filling. Add in the spices, and mix well.
- Take half of the chilled dough. Roll into an 11-12 inch wide disc. Repeat with the other half. Chill the dough for around 10 minutes.
- Line a 9 inch pie pan with the rolled out dough, and trim the excess dough. Put the apple pie filling in the centre
- Brush the sides with egg, and place the second disc of dough on the top.
- Pierce the dough disc on the top with a paring knife, to allow steam to escape.
- Freeze for around 20 minutes, and then bake at 200 degrees C for around 45 minutes to an hour, till nice and golden.