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Apple pie with lattice upper crust
|Main ingredient(s)||cooking apples, sugar|
An apple pie is a fruit pie (or tart) in which the principal filling ingredient is apples. It is sometimes served with whipped cream or ice cream on top. Pastry is generally used top-and-bottom, making it a double-crust pie, the upper crust of which may be a circular shaped crust or a pastry lattice woven of strips; exceptions are deep-dish apple pie with a top crust only, and open-face Tarte Tatin.
Cooking apples (culinary apples), such as the Bramley, Empire, Northern Spy or Granny Smith, are crisp and acidic. The fruit for the pie can be fresh, canned, or reconstituted from dried apples. This affects the final texture, and the length of cooking time required; whether it has an effect on the flavour of the pie is a matter of opinion. Dried or preserved apples were originally substituted only at times when fresh fruit was unavailable. A piece of cheese is occasionally placed on top of or alongside a slice of the finished pie, particularly inCanada and Great Britain. In New England and the Midwest, apple pie is also sometimes served with a slice of cheese. Sharp cheddar cheese is often used.
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.
Most modern recipes for apple pie require an ounce or two of sugar, but the earliest recipe does not. There are two possible reasons.
Sugarcane imported from Egypt was not widely available in 14th century England, where it cost between one and two shillings perpound—this is roughly the equivalent of US$100 per kg (about US$50 per pound) in today's prices.
The absence of sugar in the recipe may instead indicate that, because refined sugar was a recent introduction from the Orient, the medieval English did not have quite as sweet a tooth as their descendants. Honey, which was many times cheaper, is also absent from the recipe, and the "good spices" and saffron, all imported, were no less expensive and difficult to obtain than refined sugar. Despite the expense, refined sugar did appear more often in published recipes of the time than honey, suggesting that it was not considered prohibitively expensive. With the exception of apples and pears, all the ingredients in the filling probably had to be imported. And perhaps, as in some modern "sugar-free" recipes, the juice of the pears was intended to sweeten the pie.
Dutch apple pie (appeltaart or appelgebak) recipes are distinct in that they typically call for flavourings such as cinnamon and lemon juice to be added. Dutch apple pies are usually decorated in a lattice style. Dutch apple pies may include ingredients such as raisins and icing, in addition to ingredients such as apples and sugar, which they have in common with other recipes.
Recipes for Dutch apple pie go back centuries. There exists a painting from the Dutch Golden Age, dated 1626, featuring such a pie.
The basis of Dutch apple pie is a crust on the bottom and around the edges. This 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. It can be eaten warm or cold, sometimes with a dash of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
The Swedish style apple pie differs from the English and Dutch style, in that it uses no pastry and hence has no crust. Simply, the apples are sliced and placed in the baking dish, the lightly spiced dough is mixed and then poured over the apples, and the whole lot placed in a pre-heated oven, making for quick and simple preparation and cooking. The resultant pie is akin to a hot cake, in which the apples are held in suspension and softened by the dough.
In the English colonies the apple pie had to wait for carefully planted pips, brought in barrels across the Atlantic, to become fruit-bearing apple trees, to be selected for their cooking qualities. In the meantime, the colonists were more likely to make their pies, or "pasties", from meat 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 eighteenth century, and it has since become a very popular dessert.
Apple pie was a common food in eighteenth 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."
A mock apple pie made from crackers was apparently[clarification needed] invented by pioneers on the move during the nineteenth century who were bereft of apples. 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.
Advertisers exploited the patriotic connection in the 1970s with the commercial jingle "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet". There are claims that the Apple Marketing Board of New York State used such slogans as "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" and "as American as apple pie!", and thus "was able to successfully 'rehabilitate' the apple as a popular comestible" in the early twentieth century when prohibition outlawed the production of cider.
The unincorporated community of Pie Town, New Mexico is named in honour of the apple pie.