Pies are great for any occasion and there are lots of types to choose from—each with its own unique twist. In this article, we’re looking at what makes the classic apple pie and the Dutch apple pie different from one another.
The short answer is that their main difference lies in the top crust. Apple pies have a second layer of crust laid on top, while Dutch apple pies have crunchy crumb toppings.
Is this where their differences end, though? Let’s have a look at this head-to-head comparison of the classic apple pie vs. Dutch apple pie.
The classic apple pie has become a staple in households all over the world even if it originated in England way back in the early 1390s.
Essentially, a classic apple pie has three main components: a crust, a filling, and toppings. The classic apple pie has a crisp, golden brown crust. For the filling, a combination of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp apples is usually used.
The top layer is made from the same pastry used for the crust. It sports the classic apple pie slits or a variety of slits styles.
One example would be lattice tops. These not only add to the overall appeal of the pie, but also act as vents for trapped steam.
As time went by, this scrumptious dessert has managed to evolve into different variations with several influences.
A Dutch Apple Pie, also called an Apple Crumble Pie, is one of the many variations of the classic apple pie. Its origins aren’t as clear as that of its predecessor.
However, we know that it was heavily influenced by pastries from Germany and France.
One of Germany’s most popular baked goods, the apfelstrudel, bears a resemblance to apple pies. French pastries, on the other hand, are known for their flakier texture.
These influences combine to create a unique version of the classic apple pie: the Dutch apple pie.
Let’s look further into the differences between the classic apple pie and the Dutch apple pie. In this head-to-head comparison, we’ll look at the crust, toppings, fillings, and flavor of both pies.
For both apple pie and Dutch apple pie, you have two choices: you can create your own crust or you can use a store-bought dough pastry or a ready-made pie crust.
Your choices for the crust are pretty much the same for either pie. The only difference is that if you do choose to make your own crust, you have to create twice as much if you’re making the classic apple pie.
The main components for the fillings of both the classic apple pie and Dutch apple pie are more or less the same: peeled and sliced apples in rich brown sugar and cinnamon sauce.
We’ll go a little bit more on their subtle differences later on, but in principle, they do have the same apple fillings. The toppings are a completely different case.
Usually, when we’re making these classic apple pies, we don’t have to think about the toppings all that much. It’s as simple as making your pastry dough twice: one for the pie crust and one for the top layer.
The top layer is also brushed with milk or sprinkled with sugar for a glazed finish. It has slits, holes, or sometimes cookie-cutter shapes. These let steam escape, which helps your apple pie cook evenly.
The reason why the Dutch apple pie is also called an Apple Crumble Pie is because of its distinct golden brown crumb topping or streusel. This is the biggest difference between the apple pie and the Dutch apple pie.
The streusel is usually made from a combination of flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Cinnamon is also a common addition but is purely optional.
Unlike the classic apple pie, you don’t have to worry about poking holes or making slits since the crumble top allows the easy escape of steam.
As we’ve previously said, both classic apple pie and Dutch apple pie have quite similar fillings. Presumably, this means that they shouldn’t differ at all in flavor, right?
That’s not quite the case. While they share the same apple slices drenched in brown sugar and cinnamon sauce formula, they do have a bit of variation in their recipes as well.
There are ingredients present in one pie and absent in another. This leads to subtle hints of differences in flavor.
Betty Crocker’s classic apple pie recipe calls for adding ground nutmeg in the filling. This enhances the apple filling’s flavor while also adding a touch of spice.
The classic apple pie is commonly served à la mode or with vanilla ice cream. This style of apple pie is especially popular in American households.
Because of the sugar-butter-flour streusel toppings, the Dutch apple pie lies on the sweeter side of things. It has a crunchier texture as well.
You can use other ingredients for the streusel. There are variations that use oatmeal in place of flour, for example. As for the filling, raisins and lemon juice are possible additions to this type of apple pie.
Aside from the classic apple pie and the Dutch apple pie, here are some of the other types you may want to look into.
While the classic apple pie originated in England, it has come a long way in terms of its original recipe. Aside from the apples, the first-ever English apple pie had figs, pears, saffron, and even raisins.
Nowadays, English-style apple pies primarily just use Bramley apples for the filling. Unlike the classic apple pie which uses Granny Smiths and Honeycrisps.
Aside from ice cream, this English-style apple pie is also served with custard.
Tarte Tatin is a French variation of the classic apple pie. Instead of using apple slices in the filling, this French-style apple pie uses deeply caramelized apples in butter and sugar.
The presentation of this apple pie is rather unique. Unlike the other ones we’ve talked about so far, French-style apple pies don’t have a top crust at all. The caramelized apples are uncovered and stay at the top of the pie in its full glory.
This makes it one of the easiest apple pies to make because you don’t have to spend time making dough pastries for making the crust. It simply involves making your apple filling and a top layer.
We looked at Apple Pie vs. Dutch Apple Pie—with the type of top crust being their major distinction. The apple pie has a smooth pastry top similar to its crust, while the Dutch apple pie has streusel toppings.
Essentially they have the same main components, but subtle differences in ingredients make them distinct from one another.
Aside from these two pies, we also looked at the other types of apple pies.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.