How History Proves That We Have Always Loved Pie
By: Lauren Bolden
As someone who considers herself a “Frequent Pie-er” I was surprised to find that I did not know the origin story of pie until recently. After a few hours of Googling (and let’s be honest, distracted Facebook scrolling), I settled down and read a top-to-bottom history of pie.
It seems pie has been consumed by people since the time of the Romans. Although it turns out, Julius Caesar was not enjoying a slice of Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie, but rather, pie for Mr. Caesar and his pals was more of a “meat wrapped in a reed” kind of experience.
As time went on and word spread far and wide, people began stuffing more things inside of pastries, and eventually these pies landed in America thanks to a very popular Transatlantic Cruise in the year 1620.
Overtime, the pie fillings of choice began to expand and both savory and sweet pies were enjoyed. It seems by the 1800’s, bakers and eaters alike were completely on board with pastries filled with fruits, nuts, and any ingredients that satisfy one’s sweet-tooth.
We are now in the year 2021, and although pie has remained a dessert staple, specifically around holidays, I think we are beginning to see a resurgence in the popularity of pie in our everyday lives.
People have taken to tying up their apron strings, digging out family recipes, and once again filling pastries with mounds of apples, heaps of chocolate pudding, or bushels of berries.
Baking a pie does not need to be difficult, and in fact, I believe it should be an experience that brings you joy, which is why I have a few best practices for you to use the next time you decide to be a part of pie history.
Best Practice #1: Make Your Own Pie Crust
I believe it was FDR who said the famous phrase “the only thing we have to fear when making a pie crust is fear itself..and not keeping our butter cold.”
He obviously knew what he was talking about, because in all of the times I have taught people how to make pie dough that yields a super flaky pie crust, there seems to be two things that hold them back: fear of failure and not knowing how cold their butter should be throughout the dough making process.
In response to the fear of failure, this will be addressed at the end of Best Practice #4.
“And for the butter?” you ask.
Pull it directly from the refrigerator when you make your pie dough and move quickly through your pie dough recipe. You want to keep the butter as close to the temperature it was inside of your refrigerator for as long as possible. Cold butter makes for a flaky pastry.Best Practice #2: Cold Pie, Hot Oven
If you are able to, bake your pie in a metal or foil pie pan. This will allow you to freeze your pie crust before filling it with your pie filling of choice.
Putting a chilled, homemade pie crust into a hot oven (that means give it time to pre-heat!) will help your crust be super flaky. Keeping your butter cold at all stages is important for flaky pie crust.
Note: Do not place a glass or ceramic pie pan in the freezer before baking it. The transition from extreme cold to extreme heat can cause your pan to shatter or crack.
Best Practice #3: Bake with the Seasons
We live in a world where everything is at our fingertips at all times, but when it comes to baking a pie, I like to follow Mother Nature’s lead.
In Georgia, our peaches are sweet and juicy at the height of summer, so save your Peach Pie recipe for when the key ingredient, peaches, are at their most perfect.
Of course, if you are a planner, you can find those seasonal ingredients during their height and preserve them for enjoyment any time of year.
Best Practice #4: Keep Pantry Essentials in Stock
You never know when you might get the urge to bake a pie, which is why I recommend keeping certain pantry staples in stock at all times.
Unsalted butter, granulated sugar, all purpose flour, coarse kosher salt, nuts (pecans and walnuts are great), syrup (corn or maple), a variety of seasonally appropriate fruits, vanilla ice cream, and vodka.
From the butter to the fruits, each of those ingredients can be combined to make a pie that would make any pie baker proud. When you are ready to serve your pie, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, and of course, if the pie is not quite what you hoped it would be, that is what the vodka is for.
Note: This article was originally written for and published in AroundAbout Media Publications in February 2021.