I love apple pie. So, I always get way more apples than needed for a pie. You know why? Because I also love to eat apples. Apples in the morning. Apples at lunch. Apples for an afternoon snack. An apple after my evening run. So, I ALWAYS get way more apples than needed for a pie. :)))
It’s that time of year again. I’m not sure if it’s the cool nights, early sunsets, changing cloud patterns or just my gastronomical clock changing, but there’s something about October and my need to eat lots of apple pie. It’s an odd thing, that lasts through the holidays too. Maybe it’s the piles of apples at the market or the smell of pumpkin spice at the grocery store (can’t believe how many products offer a pumpkin spice version (saw pumpkin spice Spam – what a waste of some good SPAM!), but I have the craving. My first subtle (no comments about me not being subtle!) effort to convince Jackie it’s time to bake is when I bring home a rather large array of different apples from the farmer’s market – green, golden, red, macs, Honeycrisp. Then I try pulling the pie dish out and leaving it on the counter with the cinnamon. Or maybe it’s the “backup” half-gallon of vanilla ice cream and bonus sized Cool Whip container. Jackie, amazing as always, pulls out one of her favorite recipes for Dutch Apple Pie and goes to work. I love it when the house fills with that amazing aroma of sweet apples and hot pastry dough – it settles the mind and gets me ready for the transition from summer to fall. There is nothing quite like a slice of amazing pie ala mode! Below are some great recipes, and a little history on the delicacy and the all-important crust. Enjoy, and thanks Smithsonian and the recipes from All Recipes, Inspired Taste, Taste of Home and Tasty.co.
- Apple pie is a longstanding symbol of America, but the dessert didn’t actually come from America, and neither did the apples. Apples are actually native to Asia and have been in America about as long as Europeans have.
- The early colonists of Jamestown brought European apple tree cuttings and seeds with them. The only native apple in North America was the crab apple, and the colonists found its tiny fruit “a poor substitute for Malus domestica.” Settlers primarily used the apples to make cider (the hard and soft kinds), which was preferred to water as a drink and easier to produce than beer, which required labor-intensive land clearing.
- During America’s colonial history, planting trees was a good way to preserve a land claim; colonists who didn’t “improve” their land in some colonies, like Virginia, could have it taken away from them.
- Apple trees are easy to cross-pollinate, meaning that deliberately producing new apple varieties is relatively simple. By 1800, writes Tim Hensley for the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, American farmers were growing a mind-boggling 14,000 varieties of apple, many of which had been bred in the country. Around the same time, John Chapman, otherwise known as Johnny Appleseed, had brought the apple to American folklore fame. “Chapman’s beloved apples became ‘American’ by association.”
- The first recorded recipe for apple pie was written in 1381 in England and called for figs, raisins, pears, and saffron in addition to apples (now why would you go and do that??).
- There were other differences, too: early apple pie recipes generally didn’t include sugar, and their pastry crust was “coffin” pastry, which was intended as an inedible container, not a part of the pie. There are also recipes for Dutch apple pies as far back as 1514.
- A 1924 advertisement appearing in the Gettysburg Times promotes “New Lestz Suits that are as American as apple pie.” And by World War II, the America and pie association was cemented. American soldiers would tell journalists that they were fighting for “mom and apple pie,” giving rise to the expression “As American as mom and apple pie.”
- The secret to great apple pie is also in the crust. It’s not a topic to be thrown about – as making “the best crust” has merit and prestige in a family. Surprising, the history of “crust” goes back many ages – here’s some highlights:
- The first pies, called “coffins” or “coffyns” (the word actually meant a basket or box) were savory meat pies with the crusts or pastry being tall, straight-sided with sealed-on floors and lids. Open-crust pastry (not tops or lids) were known as “traps.” These pies held assorted meats and sauce components and were baked more like a modern casserole with no pan (the crust itself was the pan, its pastry tough and inedible). These crusts were often made several inches thick to withstand many hours of baking.
- A small pie was known as a tartlet and a tart was a large, shallow open pie (this is still the definition in England).
- Historians have recorded that the roots of pie can loosely be traced back to the ancient Egyptians during the Neolithic Period or New Stone Age beginning around 6000 BC. These early forms of pies are known as galettes, which are essentially rustic free-form pies. Our ancestors made these pie-like treats with oat, wheat, rye, and barley, then filled them with honey and baked the dish over hot coals.
- Between 1304 to 1237 B.C. the bakers to the pharaohs incorporated nuts, honey, and fruits in bread dough, a primitive form of pastry. Drawings of this can be found etched on the tomb walls of Ramses II, located in the Valley of the Kings.
- The tradition of galettes (pastry base) was carried on by the Greeks. Historians believe that the Greeks actually originated pie pastry. The pies during this period were made by a flour-water paste wrapped around meat; this served to cook the meat and seal in the juices.
- A cookbook from the mid 16th century that also includes some account of domestic life, cookery and feasts in Tudor days, called A Proper newe Booke of Cokerye, declarynge what maner of meates be beste in season, for al times in the yere, and how they ought to be dressed, and serued at the table, bothe for fleshe dayes, and fyshe dayes, has a recipe for a short paest for tarte: “To Make Short Paest for Tarte – Take fyne floure and a cursey of fayre water and a dysche of swete butter and a lyttel saffron, and the yolckes of two egges and make it thynne and as tender as ye maye.” (where are the apples??)
- Animated pies or pyes were the most popular banquet entertainment. The nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence . . . four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie,” refers to such a pie. According to the rhyme, “When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing. Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the King.” In all likelihood, those birds not only sang, but flew briskly out at the assembled guests. Rabbits, frogs, turtles, other small animals, and even small people (dwarfs) were also set into pies, either alone or with birds, to be released when the crust was cut. The dwarf would emerge and walk down the length of the table, reciting poetry, sketching the guests, or doing tricks. (where are the apples??).
- During Charles V (1364-1380), King of France, reign, the important event at banquets was not dishes of food but acts such as minstrels, magicians, jugglers, and dancers.
- The chefs entered into the fun by producing elaborate “soteltie” or “subtilty.” Sotelties were food disguised in an ornamental way (sculptures made from edible ingredients but not always intended to be eaten or even safe to eat). During this time period, the Duke of Burgundy’s chef made an immense pie which opened to the strains of 28 musicians playing from within the pie. Out of the pie came a captive girl representing the “captive” Church in the Middle East.
- The Pilgrims brought their favorite family pie recipes with them to America. The colonists and their pies adapted simultaneously to the ingredients and techniques available to them in the New World. At first, they baked pie with berries and fruits pointed out to them by the Native Americans. Colonial women used round pans literally to cut corners and stretch the ingredients (for the same reason they baked shallow pies).
- Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), a.k.a. Mark Twain, was a big fan of eating pies. His life-long housekeeper and friend (she was with the family for 30 years), Katy Leary, often baked Huckleberry pie to lure her master into breaking his habit of going without lunch. Samuel Clemens also had a recipe for English Pie: To make this excellent breakfast dish, proceed as follows: “Take a sufficiency of water and a sufficiency of flour and construct a bullet-proof dough. Work this into the form of a disk, with the edges turned up some three-fourths of an inch. Toughen and kiln-dry in a couple days in a mild but unvarying temperature. Construct a cover for this redoubt in the same way and of the same material. Fill with stewed dried apples; aggravate with cloves, lemon-peel, and slabs of citron; add two portions of New Orleans sugars, then solder on the lid and set in a safe place till it petrifies. Serve cold at breakfast and invite your enemy.”
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I. Love. My. Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
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