An apple pie is a pie in which the principal filling ingredient is apple.
It is generally double-crusted with pastry both above and below the filling – the upper crust may be a circular or a pastry lattice woven of crosswise strips.
The filling generally also includes sugar, butter, and cinnamon, sometimes also lemon juice or nutmeg; many older recipes call for honey in place of the then-expensive sugar.
Apple pies or tarts have shown up, in one form or another, since the Middle Ages.
English apple pie recipes go back to the time of Chaucer. The 1381 recipe is the earliest known apple pie recipe in the world, and lists the ingredients as good apples, good spices, figs, raisins and pears.
It wasn’t until the 15th century that Dutch bakers transformed the crust-less apple pie into the lattice-style pastry we commonly see today.
The Pilgrim fathers and early settlers brought their pie recipes with them to America, adapting to the ingredients and techniques available to them in the New World. Their first pies were based on berries and fruits pointed out to them by the Native North Americans.
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. That happened during the 17th and 18th centuries when the British, Dutch, and Swedes brought some apple varieties good for pies.
There are American apple pie recipes, both manuscript and printed, from the 18th century, and it has since become a very popular dessert.
America’s first cookbook, American Cookery, includes two recipes for apple pie, neither claiming the roots of the recipe.
By the turn of the 20th century, the pie had been established as a key part of American culture.
Today, apple pie is the most popular flavor in America, followed by pumpkin, chocolate, lemon meringue and cherry – according to the American Pie Council.
Apple pie is an unofficial symbol of the United States and one of its signature comfort foods.
The saying “as American as apple pie” describes things that represent the best of American culture. People use this expression when talking about things like blue jeans, baseball and rock-n-roll music.
The primary origins of “as American as apple pie” are difficult to pinpoint, but it was used as early as 1928 to describe the home-making abilities of Lou Henry Hoover (President Herbert Hoover’s wife). The next result we could dig up, a Times article in which the phrase is enlisted to describe lynchings, comes nearly a decade later. It is fair to assert that though the phrase was floating around in the early 20th century, it was seldomly used.
It wasn’t until the 1940s, when the United States entered World War II, that “as American as apple pie” truly took off. When journalists at the time asked soldiers why they were willing to fight in the war, the typical response was “for mom and apple pie.” By the 1960s, the phrase transformed into “American as apple pie.”