Get out your pie pan

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Oct 09, 2013 - 02:22 PM

Photo: Apple pie, the all-time number one favorite dessert pie. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

Apple pie, the all-time number one favorite dessert pie. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

"As American as Apple Pie"; this saying means "typically American." Yet the apple pie did not originate in this country. It has shown up in one form or another since the Middle Ages.

The first resemblance of this favorite to modern pies actually goes back to the Ancient Greeks. When captured by the Romans, the Greeks carried their pie-making with them.

In the 14th century pies were very different from today’s pie. They didn’t contain sugar (sweet fruits such as figs were added) and the pastry ("coffins") was not meant to be eaten; it was used only as a container. It was also when the first apple pie recipe appeared, in a cookbook compiled in 1390.

By the 16th century sugar became more available and the pastry was meant to be eaten. Apple pie was a favorite during the reign of Elizabeth I (1533-1603). Yet during the mid-1600s Oliver Cromwell banned many pleasures and pie was among them. Fortunately, when King Charles II came to the throne, he restored previous privileges including pie.

English settlers brought apple pie making to America, but it wasn’t until the apple seeds had been planted and the mature trees were producing fruit that the making of apple pies began again. When the settlers arrived here in the early 1600s they found only crabapples. (Crabapple trees are the only ones native to the U.S.)