Since moving to the US as a little girl, I’ve always wondered about the phrase, “As American as Apple Pie.”
The reason I didn’t understand why Apple Pie was claimed by Americans is because I had eaten lots of apple pie in Scotland. According to a Time Magazine article, historians have traced pie crusts back to the Greeks…and Romans used to fill them with meat and seafood, and also made sweet pies for dessert. “Pyes”, as they were called in Medieval England, were also mostly savory, but even pumpkin pie wasn’t popular in the US until the 1800s and was based on a British spiced squash recipe.
I remember tasting my first American apple pie, and being really surprised when I realized it tasted nothing like what I was expecting: the flavor wasn’t of apple, but cinnamon. I must explain that I love cinnamon, especially in Cinnamon Rolls, but I truly like to taste the flavor of the apples, so I don’t add any cinnamon to my apple pies. Unfortunately, we don’t get the variety of cooking apples in the US that are available in the UK (like Bramley), so the best apple to use is Granny Smith. If you use a different type of apple, the flavor and texture of the filling will not be up to par with one made with Granny Smith apples (yes, it is worth usng the right variety)!
I also prefer my apple pie with fresh cream or custard, and not vanilla ice cream. Some of you in the US may think that not using cinnamon is bad, but serving apple pie without ice-cream is criminal; however, it all depends on what you’ve grown up with and become accustomed to. This particular pie (in the photos) was given to a lovely friend as a “thank you”, and I was unsure how my British apple pie would be received. I also handed gave her some heavy organic whipping cream to serve with the pie, and a few days later I was so happy to hear that she and her family absolutely loved the pie and serving it with the cream!
If you have never tasted a British apple pie, then I strongly encourage you to keep the cinnamon in the spice rack, just once, so that you can taste the wonderful flavor of this gorgeous crust together with the slightly sweetened Granny Smith apples without an overpowering flavor of spice to mask it.
Here’s how I make my apple pie. I don’t use a recipe for the filling as I always “eye” the ingredients, but I’ve measured them just for you…
Ingredients for Crust
4 cups (1 lb) flour
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter
1 tbsp sugar
a little ice water
Ingredients for Filling
5 or 6 large, organic Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into about 12 pieces ea
juice of half a fresh lemon
3 to 4 tbsp sugar (more or less to taste)
1 egg white, slightly beaten with a tsp of water, to brush the pie crust
organic, heavy whipping cream or custard, to serve
Preheat oven to 400º F (200º C)