Tag Archives: apple

A Food-Lover’s Guide to History: Apple Pie

‘Tis the season for journeying out to an apple orchard and picking a bushel of apples, and arguably the best way to consume those apples?  Apple pie.  Nothing is quite so American as that particular New-England-y scene of autumn leaves and a warm pie in the oven.

But as it turns out, the original apple pies date back to the 14th century, and apples themselves go back even further.

Fossilized evidence of apples date them back as far as the Stone Age.  The closest ancestor to modern apples can be found as early as the time of Alexander the Great, who supposedly found dwarf apples in Kazakhstan and brought them back to Macedonia.  Later, the Romans introduced apples to England, where they hitched a ride to the new world with American colonists.  They didn’t flourish until the European honey bee was shipped to the Americas in 1622.  This was good news, since colonists would have only found crabapple trees in their new home.

So if the apple isn’t American, maybe the pie is?  Nope.  Pie has been around since the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, when they were made in inedible “reeds,” not crusts.  Once again, the Romans spread the word about their culinary delight, and by the 14th century, the word pie was in the popular vernacular.  However, the early pies were mostly savory pies, filled with fowl.

… mostly filled with fowl.

America isn’t even the originator of the combo of apples and pie.  The first recorded recipe for apple pie dates to 1381, and called for figs, raisins, pears, and saffron to be thrown into the mix.  Back then, apple pies didn’t include sugar, since sugar at the time was scarce and very expensive.  Also, ye olde consumers of apple pie generally didn’t eat the pastry, then called a coffin, that held in all the apples.

So how exactly did apple pie become so “American”?  Apple pie recipes came across the Atlantic with British, Dutch, and Swedish bakers in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Folk hero John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, did much to induct apples into the American legend – even though the variety of apples he typically planted were rather sour.  During Prohibition, the American government pushed apple pies as one alternative for hard apple cider, and later, during World War II, American soldiers helped to popularize the stereotype of American apple pie, claiming they were going to war “for mom and apple pie.”

So, through a classic American combination of immigration and advertising, the apple pie became the culinary mascot for all things ‘Murica.

If you have a hankering for a real old fashioned apple pie, use this medieval recipe “For to make Tartys in Applis,” redacted by godecookery.com.

From The Forme of Cury: XXVII For to make Tartys in Applis.

Tak gode Applys and gode Spycis and Figys and reysons and Perys and wan they are wel ybrayed colourd with Safron wel and do yt in a cofyn and yt forth to bake wel.



  • 8 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 4 Bartlet pears peeled, cored and sliced
  • ½ cup of raisins
  • ½ cup of figs, sliced
  • 2 tsp cinnamon,
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • a pinch of saffron

Pie Shell:

  • 2 cups of wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of butter
  • ½ cup of milk
  • egg yolks for glazing

Note: the pie shell recipe is for a “coffin,” a generally tasteless pastry made to hold in the filling.

Rub a tablespoon of the butter into the flour and salt with your fingertips. Take the remaining butter, and add it to the liquid. Heat the liquid over med. heat until it just breaks a boil, and the butter is melted. Make a well in the flour, dump in the liquid and melted fat, and stir quickly with a wooden spoon to combine. Cover with a cloth to keep it warm, and let the dough rest for 10 minutes or so in a warm place.

Pinch off two thirds of the very warm dough. Reserve the remaining  third for the lid, in a bowl with a cloth covering it. We will aim for a six- inch base, with sides approx. 4-5 inches high. Pat the dough into a circle. With knuckles, thumbs, palms, and any other means possible, mold the dough into a bowl shape or cylinder. Splay out the top edges slightly.

Roll the remaining dough into a circle. Flatten out into a seven-inch circle. Cut a one-inch circle in the center. If you have any excess dough, use it to decorate the lid or sides with rosettes, leaves, vines, etc. Score the bottoms of these with a fork, and moisten, then attach to a scored section of the lid. When the pie has been filled, moisten the edges of the base. Put the lid on top. Pinch the edges together. Using a small knife or kitchen shears, cut small, inch deep cuts into the edges, making an even number, all around the edge. Fold every other “notch” down, to make a crenellated edge. Pinch the crenellations to ensure they stay down.

Mix all of the pie filling ingredients together. Pour into the pie shell and cover with the pie lid. Bake at 350º F for one hour. After one hour, glaze the pie shell with the egg yolk for a lovely golden brown color. Return to the oven for another twenty minutes.





Voracious Vegan: Autumn Brunch: Spiced Apple Pancakes

Brunch is sacred. Yet at many restaurants, the vegan options for a solid brunch are lacking. Pancakes are one classic breakfast item that are so easy to veganize–you’ll never realize they’re dairy-free! Try out these fall-flavored spiced apple pancakes and I guarantee you’ll be craving them all season long.

Serves: 4

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 & 3/4 cups almond milk

1 tbsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp each nutmeg, cloves and allspice

1 apple, chopped finely

1/3 cup chopped almonds

Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and assorted spices. Stir in coconut oil. Add milk and vanilla. Whisk together until consistent. Stir in chopped apple and almonds. Heat a nonstick skillet and pour batter in circles, depending on how large they are. Cook, flipping over until each side is lightly browned.



Smoked Duck Breast Crostini with Apple Confit

Credit: Scout MacEachron

Another entertaining post by Pippa, this one focuses on making duck crostini.  Pippa keeps it real and direct, so go ahead and try it!

Ducks. They look cute and, if I must be blunt, taste delicious. The meat is flavorful and has a huge cushion of fat that, when crisped up right creates enormous amounts of flavor. Duck is one of those meats that is hard to find in a normal supermarket unless it is D’Artangnan. Personally, I am not impressed by D’Artangnan. It is over priced and the portions they sell are so small that it is almost comical. However, there is a solution to this problem! Hudson Valley Duck Farm, which is located in Ferndale, NY rocks my world and is a vendor at the Columbia Greenmarket. See below for more info but for now the most important thing is that an applewood smoked duck breast is only $8.00. The best part about buying smoked meat it that it is already cooked so all you have to do is crisp the fat and slice.

 An easy appetizer that my family uses throughout the fall for everything from thanksgiving to an after school snack is thinly sliced duck breast on a garlic crostini with an apple and onion confit. By easy I mean that it takes maybe 20 minutes to make 25+ of these. When you bite into it you get the smoothness of the apples, the smokiness of the duck and the crunch of the bread. Finally the raw garlic hits you and you’re in heaven. Please, just try to resist. Continue reading Smoked Duck Breast Crostini with Apple Confit

Pie making tips

Made an apple pie and it was perfect, a first for me.  My other apple pies always came out slightly wrong.
Here are some tips that made it awesome:
1. Use Gala apples, they stand up to cooking and have a great flavor and texture.
2. Don’t be afraid to put lemon juice/zest in the filling.  It disappears behind the other spices.  Same deal with the orange juice in the crust.
3. Right after you prebake the bottom crust, brush it with eggwhites.  This creates a barrier so the crust doesn’t get soggy.
4. Precook the filling in a dutch oven or large saucepan on the stove so it doesn’t sink as the pie bakes and so that you can be sure the filling cooks properly without burning the top crust.
5. Dont forget to use an eggwash (1 egg and 1 tblsp water beaten) on the top crust so it comes out nice and brown.  If you forget the water you’ll have an omelette on top of your pie.
6. When you’re making your crust, keep it cold.  To keep it from sticking to the rolling pin and make it easier to move around, sandwich it between two pieces of floured plastic wrap or parchment paper.  I prefer plastic because you can see how big it is without peeling off.

I rarely make pie because there’s too much to keep track of and it’s deceptively difficult.  But with enough tricks it’s not too bad.  Serve with Häagen-Dazs vanilla, far superior to other vanillas in my opinion.


Rustic Apple Tarts

Hi all, here’s the recipe for the rustic apple tarts we made for Earl Jam!

All Butter Crust:

(adapted from SimpleRecipes.com)

This recipe makes 1 pâte brisée crust, enough for one tart. If you are making a pie with a bottom and top crust, double this recipe and form two discs of dough instead of one.


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (increase to 1 1/2 teaspoons if for a sweet recipe)
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp ice water, very cold

1 Start by cutting the sticks of butter into 1/2-inch cubes and placing in the freezer for at least 15 minutes (preferably longer) so that they become thoroughly chilled.

2 In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar, pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add water 1 Tablespoon at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it’s ready, if not, add a little more water and pulse again.

3 Remove dough from machine and place on a clean surface. Carefully shape into a discs. Do not over-knead the dough! You should still be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These bits of butter are what will allow the result crust to be flaky. Sprinkle the disc with a little flour on all sides. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

4 Remove the crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk.

Apple Walnut Filling:


  • 1 Pâte Brisée (tart dough) for a 10-inch tart (see all butter crust recipe) or 1 packaged, flat pie crust
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried (we actually completely forgot to add the thyme, but it turned out great without it!)
  • 2 large granny smith apples (or other good cooking apples such as jonagold or fuji), peeled, cored, chopped
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (optional)
  • Goat Cheese to crumble on top (optional)
  • 1 egg, water for egg wash.


1 Toss the walnuts, thyme, chopped apples, and sugar together in a medium size bowl. As you are working with the apples (chopping them, mixing them in with the other ingredients), if you want, you can squeeze a little lemon juice on them to help keep them from discoloring. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap while you prepare the crust.

2 Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out pastry dough to 1/8th in thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut small circles in the dough. Roll out the circles once more to get them a little thinner, so that you can pinch up the edges, but not so thin that it wont hold the filling. Place a small amount of filling directly in the center of the dough, fold up edges in a circular motion and pinch together, leaving the top open, and the filling exposed. Whip 1 egg with a few tablespoons of water and brush over the edges.


3 Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until crust is nicely browned. If at any time it looks like the walnuts are getting a little burnt, you can lightly tent a piece of aluminum foil over the center.

4 Remove from oven. Immediately crumble goat cheese over the top, and serve warm!