An apple pie is a pie or a tart, in which the principal filling ingredient is apple. It is, on occasion, served with whipped cream or ice cream on top, or alongside cheddar cheese. The pastry is generally used top-and-bottom, making it a double-crust pie; the upper crust may be a circular or a pastry lattice woven of crosswise strips. Depending on the baker's preference, the bottom of the double-crust may be baked first (before baking the whole pie) to prevent the bottom from getting soggy. Exceptions are deep-dish apple pie, with a top crust only, and open-face Tarte Tatin. The apple pie is one of the United States' signature comfort foods.
Apple pie can be made with all sorts of different apples. The more popular cooking apples include, Braeburn, Gala, Cortland, Bramley, Empire, Northern Spy, Granny Smith, and McIntosh The fruit for the pie can be fresh, canned, or reconstituted from dried apples. These different types of apples (canned, dries, fresh) affects the final texture and the length of cooking time required will vary, therefore people disagreeon if it affects the flavour or not. Dried or preserved apples were originally substituted only at times when fresh fruit was unavailable. Along with the apples people commonly use, cinnamon, salt, butter, and most importantly sugar. Though most of the old recipes don't include sugar due to the price or having a better sweetener option, most people definitely use it today. Apple pie is often served in the style of "à la Mode" (topped with ice cream). Alternatively, a piece of cheese (such as a sharp cheddar) is, at times, placed on top of or alongside a slice of the finished pie.
Recipes for Dutch apple pie go back to the Middle Ages. An early Dutch cookbook from 1514, Een notabel boecxken van cokeryen ("A notable little cookery book"), documents a recipe for Appeltaerten (compare modern Dutch Appeltaarten "apple pies"). This early recipe was a simple one, requiring only a standard pie crust, slices of especially soft apples with their skin and seeds removed, and den selven deeghe daer die taerte af ghemaect es (roughly meaning "the same dough that the pie [crust] is made of") to fill in the top. It was then baked in a typical Dutch oven. Once baked, the top crust (except at the edges) would be cut out from the middle, after which the apple slices were potentially put through a sieve before the pie was stirred with a wooden spoon. At this point the book recommends adding several spices to the pie, namely: cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, mace and powdered sugar. Finally, after mixing the ingredients into the pie with cream, it is once again put into the oven to dry.
Traditional Dutch apple pie comes in two varieties, a crumb (appelkruimeltaart) and a lattice (appeltaart) style pie. Both recipes are distinct in that they typically call for flavourings of cinnamon and lemon juice to be added and differ in texture, not taste. Dutch apple pies may include ingredients such as full-cream butter, raisins and almond paste, in addition to ingredients such as apples and sugar, which they have in common with other recipes.
The basis of Dutch apple pie is a crust on the bottom and around the edges. This crust is then filled with pieces or slices of apple, usually a crisp and mildly tart variety such as Goudreinet or Elstar. Cinnamon and sugar are generally mixed in with the apple filling. Atop the filling, strands of dough cover the pie in a lattice holding the filling in place but keeping it visible or cover the pie with crumbs. It can be eaten warm or cold, sometimes with a dash of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. In the US, "Dutch apple pie" refers specifically to the apple pie style with a crumb, streusel, topping.
English apple pie recipes go back to the time of Chaucer. The 1381 recipe (see illustration at right) lists the ingredients as good apples, good spices, figs, raisins and pears. The cofyn of the recipe is a casing of pastry. Saffron is used for colouring the pie filling.
French style apple pie is very different compared to the American version of the sweet dessert. Instead of it being right side up with crust on top and bottom, it actually is upside down, with the fruit being caramelized. This can be made not only with apples but other fruits or vegetables as well, for example, pears or tomatoes. see Tarte Tatin
The Swedish style apple pie is predominantly a variety of apple crumble, rather than a traditional pastry pie. Often, breadcrumbs are used (wholly or partially) instead of flour, and sometimes rolled oats. It is usually flavoured with cinnamon and served with vanilla custard or ice cream. There is also a very popular version called äppelkaka (apple cake), which differs from the pie in that it is a sponge cake baked with fresh apple pieces in it.
Apple pie was brought to the colonies by the British, Dutch, and Swedes during the 17th and 18th centuries. The apple pie had to wait for the planting of European varieties, brought across the Atlantic, to become fruit-bearing apple trees, to be selected for their cooking qualities as there were no native apples except crabapples, which yield very small and sour fruit. In the meantime, the colonists were more likely to make their pies, or "pasties", from meat, calling them coffins (meaning basket) rather than fruit; and the main use for apples, once they were available, was in cider. However, there are American apple pie recipes, both manuscript and printed, from the 18th century, and it has since become a very popular dessert. Apple varieties are usually propagated by grafting, as clones, but in the New World, planting from seeds was more popular, which quickly led to the development of hundreds of new native varieties.
Apple pie was a common food in 18th-century Delaware. As noted by the New Sweden historian Dr. Israel Acrelius in a letter: "Apple pie is used throughout the whole year, and when fresh Apples are no longer to be had, dried ones are used. It is the evening meal of children."
The mock apple pie, made from crackers, was probably invented for use aboard ships, as it was known to the British Navy as early as 1812. The earliest known published recipes for mock apple pie date from the antebellum period of the 1850s. In the 1930s, and for many years afterwards, Ritz Crackers promoted a recipe for mock apple pie using its product, along with sugar and various spices.
Although apple pies have been eaten since long before the European colonisation of the Americas, "as American as apple pie" is a saying in the United States, meaning "typically American". In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, apple pie became a symbol of American prosperity and national pride. A newspaper article published in 1902 declared that "No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished." The dish was also commemorated in the phrase "for Mom and apple pie" - supposedly the stock answer of American soldiers in World War II, whenever journalists asked why they were going to war. Jack Holden and Frances Kay sang in their patriotic 1950 song The Fiery Bear, creating contrast between this symbol of U.S. culture and the Russian bear of the Soviet Union:
Modern American recipes for apple pie usually indicate a confection that is 9 inches in diameter in a fluted pie plate, with an apple filling spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice, and it may or may not have a lattice or shapes cut out of the top for decoration. One out of five Americans surveyed (19%) prefer apple pie over all others, followed by pumpkin (13%) and pecan (12%).
The center of diversity of the genus Malus is the eastern Turkey, southwestern Russia region of Asia Minor. Apples were improved through selection over a period of thousands of years by early farmers. Alexander the Great is credited with finding dwarfed apples in Asia Minor in 300 BC; those he brought back to Greece may well have been the progenitors of dwarfing rootstocks. Apples were brought to North America with colonists in the 1600s, and the first apple orchard on this continent was said to be near Boston in 1625.
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