Easy as Pie

10 months ago


Learn a thing or two you didn’t know about apple pie!



Words by Janelle Año

Photographed by Ed Simon of Studio 100


Quick, think of a pie. Was the first thing to come to mind apple pie? Beloved all over the world, this type of pie has apple, either fresh or canned, as its main filling. Cooking apples are used because they are tart and crisp, so that the apples don’t turn mushy once baked.

Different cultures have their own takes on apple pie. The French have tarte tatin, an upside-down apple tart. The Dutch have appelkruimeltaart, which is apple pie with a crumb or streusel topping. The Swedish have a more minimalistic take on apple pie, doing away with a crumb topping. The origins of apple pie go way back to the Middle Ages, and recipes for it have been found dating back to the 14th century. Back then, the pastry (unappetizingly called “cofyn” or “coffin) was made from coarse flour and beef fat; it was not meant to be eaten and served only as a container for the filling. The pies were also naturally sugar free; as sugar was prohibitively expensive, spices, figs, pears, and raisins were used to sweeten the filling, while saffron was used to add color. It was only in the 16th century when sugar was added to the recipe and the pastry was finally eaten.

And apple pie à la mode, the classic combination of fresh-off-the-oven apple pie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream? For years, people believed that a sweet-toothed professor named Charles Winston Townsend invented it. He would allegedly order “pie à la mode” or apple pie with ice cream at the Cambridge Hotel, and at the Delmonico’s Restaurant. However, John Gieriet, a Minnesotan restaurateur, actually started serving blueberry pie topped ice cream(labelled pie à la mode on the menu) way back in 1885!

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