Apple pie and the U.S.A. have something in common. They both originated from Britain. So how did this popular pastry become an American icon? This Canadian is about to find out.
The Origins of Apple Pie
Apple pie came to the American colonies during the 17th century. Unfortunately, they had a long wait before they could prepare it. The only native apples were crabapples, which are small and sour. As they shipped seeds across the Atlantic and planted it in the New World, the colonists made pies with meat and called them ‘coffins’. (Same thing happened in Sweeney Todd...) Even when the apples were ripe, they were used mainly for cider.
However, apple pies recipes were written and printed in the 18th century. Since then, it has become a popular dessert in America. Since then it has become a symbol of American pride and prosperity. As a 1902 newspaper said:
“No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.”
And within this pie-eating nation, one out of five Americans favor apple pie over all other varieties; second place goes to pumpkin, and third to pecan.
Americans love pie so much, they named a town after it in New Mexico.
Yes, it’s real.
Pie Town was named after a bakery that specialized in dried-apple pies and was established in the 1920s by Clyde Norman. In 2010, their population consisted of 186 people. It’s also the location of a Pie Festival that takes place on the second Saturday of every September. So if you love pie, you might want to give Pie Town a visit next fall.
What if I’m gluten-free?
Fear not. You may not be able to attend the Pie Festival, but you can create your own without having to travel all the way to New Mexico. Unless, of course, you already live there.
The prospect of a good pie crust without gluten and shortening haunted me for some time. It seemed impossible, or at least as impossible of an actual place named Pie Town. In other words, here is how it’s done.
American Apple Pie (No Gluten or Shortening)
- 3 cups almond flour
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1 tsp xantham gum
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp coconut sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup coconut oil (solid)
- 4 tbsp almond milk
- 1 egg yolk (for the egg wash)
- 4–6 apples, diced and peeled
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- For the crust: Whisk the flours, xantham gum, salt, and coconut sugar together.
- Add the two eggs and coconut oil and incorporate into the flour mixture with a fork, or by hand.
- Add the almond milk and mix until the dough is soft. If it’s too dry, add some more milk; if it’s too liquidy, add some more brown rice flour.
- Roll the dough into two balls. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
- For the filling: Toss the apples, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Roll out one of the balls of dough. Carefully transfer it into a greased pie plate, using a rolling pin so the dough won’t crack. If it does, smooth the cracks and ensure the dough is spread evenly over the pie plate with your fingers.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes and let cool.
- In the meantime, roll out of the top crust. You can either slice the dough into strips for a lattice design or leave it whole for a top crust.
- Pour the apples into the bottom crust and cover with the top crust. If you choose the lattice design, use a spatula to gently place the strips over the apples, about half an inch apart. Then place the rest of the strips on an angle to create the lattice. If you choose the traditional full crust, cut slits in the center of the pie.
- If there’s extra dough, add it to the edge of the crust. You want the edges to be thick enough and not burn in the oven. Using your fingers or a fork, press around the edges of the crust to create a fluted pattern.
- Mix the egg yolk with a tsp of water and brush the top with it.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until the apples are soft and the crust is golden brown. If the crust begins to brown before the apples are cooked, cover the pie loosely with foil and remove it for the last five minutes of baking.
- Allow to cool and enjoy!