Apple Pie has long been considered an iconic symbol of American culture. Found throughout our vast nation from New England smackhouses to lunch counters in the North, buffets in the South, food trucks of the Rockies, it stands out as being truly American with its sweet or spicy filling, flaky crust or leathery crust, always satisfying as a satisfying and substantial offering that speaks volumes about resilience, perseverance and independence.
Pie is one of the nation’s favorite desserts and we consume an estimated 186 million of them annually! But what makes this treat such a hit and remains one of our favorites for such an extended period of time?
Long before any of our founding fathers were alive or even the Declaration of Independence was written, apple pie had long been an icon in both British and Dutch cultures. Following World War II however, apple pie truly gained national prominence, reflecting a larger societal shift away from savory food toward mass production and commercialization.
As Americans gradually accepted a sense of collective identity, many sought ways to show their devotion and patriotism. One such means was through home-baked apple pie: simple yet affordable yet satisfyingly filling. A home-baked pie seemed emblematic of an Americanism both strong and generous.
For the ideal pie experience, it’s key to follow some basic steps such as chilling the dough and allowing its filling to cool before baking. Chilling will keep the butter cold until it goes into the oven, creating an airy and tender crust. Meanwhile, cooling helps sugars mix with apple flavors more efficiently for a more flavorful and dense pie experience.
Once the pie is baked, cover it with aluminum foil to avoid over-browning and bake on a lower oven rack as most ovens tend to heat the bottom-most portion the most rapidly; placing your pie at an elevated spot increases its chances of sogginess post-bake. A visual cue should indicate when your pie is finished; its surface should have turned golden-brown in color while any visible juices should be bubbling vigorously in response.
No matter how you enjoy your pie, allowing it to cool completely is always recommended before serving it with or without ice cream. This gives the crust time to firm up a bit and makes slicing neatly easier. Furthermore, cooling it thoroughly also allows leftovers to keep well when stored at room temperature in tightly wrapped plastic wrap, though if need be you could wrap the pie in heavy-duty aluminum foil for extended storage in the fridge.