Apple pie is one of the most universally loved desserts in the world. It has a bright, crisp flavor, with warm spices that’ll get you feeling cozy in no time.
That’s why people don’t hesitate to pull out the delicious treat whenever there’s an occasion. Simply put, no Fourth of July celebration is complete without apple pie.
This link with independence day leads everyone to believe that the treat started out in the USA. Although, that’s not the case.
So, at this point, you may be asking, is apple pie American? In this article, we’ll walk you through the birth of this tasty treat.
We’ll also cover a few other variations of the pie.
There are two possible origin stories, each from a different part of the world. In this section, we’ll cover both versions of the tale.
The most common answer is England. Yet, there’s a lot more to this story.
To help you understand the origins of apple pie, let’s take a journey through its history.
One of the first iterations of apple pie dates back to 14th century England. Back then, the dessert consisted of apples, spices, figs, and pears.
These ingredients would then go into a coffyn, which is a casing of pastry.
The components come from all over the world. For instance, the UK would import spices from Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Other than that, the wheat they used for the crust came from the Middle East. To top it off, the techniques for forming the dough and baking it originated in France and Italy.
So, as you can see, the dessert is the culmination of a couple of different cultural influences.
Some people believe the popular dessert originated in the Netherlands. That’s because back in the Middle Ages, a Dutch chef released a cookbook.
In it, he details a recipe for apple pie. Although, this dish was much more simple than the one we know and love today.
The earliest version of the dessert was a simple pie crust with slices of apples in the center. Then, you spread more dough on top to seal in the filling.
Since both stories happen around the same time, it’s difficult to guess which occurred first. In fact, it’s likely that both countries developed their recipes independently.
For that reason, depending on where you are in the world, the origin of your dessert may differ.
However, in the USA, the version we’ve adopted seems more similar to the English dessert. So, we can assume that European settlers brought the recipe with them to the colonies.
The earliest record of an English apple pie is in “The Forme of Cury”. This is a massive collection of medieval English recipes.
It talks about all sorts of meals, from basic savory dishes to fancy, extravagant desserts.
This book consists of nine manuscripts with various recipes. These came from cooks and kitchen workers from all over England.
Because of that, it can be challenging to figure out who contributed the apple pie recipe.
Moving on, finding the inventor of the Dutch apple pie is less complicated. That’s because the earliest iteration of the recipe is in “A Notable Little Cookery Book”.
This is a cookbook by Dutch author Thomas van der Noot.
Regardless of the origin, apple pie is one of the world’s most popular desserts. Although, few people understand why this dish became so widespread.
There are a few reasons behind this.
For starters, it’s because of the ingredients. The recipe calls for apples, wheat, fat, and a few spices.
As the world moved into the 18th century, these ingredients were common. So, people could afford the components to make the recipe.
On top of that, it’s easy to prepare. Apple pies don’t require that much effort and you can bake them in about two hours.
Besides that, the dessert is incredibly hearty. Not only will it fill you up, but it’ll also make you feel warm and comfy on the inside.
Because of that, the dessert quickly became a staple in American cuisine. It’s the ultimate comfort food for anyone in need of a pick-me-up.
During the 18th century, apple pies’ popularity skyrocketed in the USA. Although, that wasn’t the most interesting event taking place at the time.
In this period, the USA was going through a civil war. Americans were fighting for their freedom from British rule.
They achieved that when they adopted the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July, 1776.
To celebrate, people from all over the country baked apple pies. Since then, the dessert has been an integral part of the holiday.
As the popularity of apple pie increased in the 18th century, businesses saw it as an opportunity. They felt like the dessert could pull in new clientele.
So, by the 20th century, many adverts relied on apple pies.
They branded it as the food of the heroic. Meaning anyone who constantly ate pie could never lose a battle.
This further solidified the dessert as an American staple.
Even though apple pies didn’t originate in the USA, we’ve added our own spin to the tasty treat. Over the years, we adapted the traditional recipes to fit our culinary preferences.
Because of that, American apple pies are slightly different from other iterations.
For instance, British pies don’t use as much sugar. There are a couple of reasons behind this.
First up, it’s because of the sweetness. The English people prefer desserts that are sharper and more acidic.
Other than that, sugar will affect the texture of the apples. It’ll cause them to soften and turn into a paste.
This isn’t ideal for English pies, since they like stiff fillings.
Moving on, American apple pie is also different from the Dutch version. You can clearly see that by just looking at the desserts.
The USA iteration has a layer of crust draped over the filling. As for the Dutch variety, instead of dough, they use a crumbly topping.
This means while the flavor of both pies is similar, the texture is different.
French apple pies use the same ingredients as the American version. That includes a crust, apples, sugar, and spices.
However, the preparation of the dish is completely different. Instead of starting the process with a crust, you’ll begin by making the filling.
To do that, place apple slices in a saucepan and add butter and sugar on top. Then, you allow the mixture to heat up and caramelize.
Next, once the apples soften and turn a deep golden brown, you can place a sheet of dough on top.
After that, the whole thing goes into the oven for a few minutes. Finally, you’ll flip over the dessert and serve it warm.
We can trace back the origin of apple pie with cheese to 17th-century England. During this time, most British desserts had a dairy-based sauce on top.
For instance, many bakers would add a layer of custard to their confections. This gave them a creamy quality that cut through the heavy spices.
At some point, a chef decided to use cheddar instead of custard. The cheese has a sharp flavor with earthy undertones.
This made for the perfect companion for a warm, hearty apple pie.
Is apple pie American? The short answer to this question is no.
There are two different stories when it comes to the origin of apple pie. The first traces the dessert to 14th century England.
As for the second, it dates back to the Middle Ages in the Netherlands. Then, the USA adopted these recipes and made them our own.
American apple pies tend to be sweeter than other versions. Plus, the treat is always topped off with more pie crust.
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.