It’s easy as pie! That saying is at once both familiar and baffling to many. To the uninitiated, baking a pie can seem intimidating, even difficult. However, pie is one of the most popular dishes in America and spans all seasons. One can literally eat pie for every meal of the day: quiche for breakfast, meat hand-pie for lunch, pot pie for dinner, and classic apple pie for dessert. What makes pie so appealing? The simple recipe template provides instant comfort, recognition, and versatility. It is appropriate for every occasion, and (once the cook gets the basic technique down of course) is, in fact, very easy to prepare.
Most of us grew up in awe of mom or grandma’s pies: brilliant constructions that seemed to simply appear out of thin air every once in a while and brighten any meal. Even the uninitiated can simply travel to any supermarket and purchase a wide variety of pies at any time. Though admittedly supermarket pie is never going to be as yummy as mom’s apple pie, mediocre pie is better than no pie! Pie existed long before American grandmas and supermarkets, though. According to the American Pie Council, “Pie has been around since the ancient Egyptians” (American Pie Council, 2012). The concept of pie as a preservation technique for whatever was used for the filling was passed from the Egyptians to the Greeks to the Romans and (eventually) to the rest of Europe. The earliest pies were actually predominantly meat, with the earliest cherry pie credited as being made for Queen Elizabeth I (American Pie Council, 2012). Pie traveled to the America with English settlers and evolved over the decades as the dessert dish most Americans associate with the technique.
What defines a pie is its crust. If a dish has a crust and is filled with almost anything, sweet and savory alike, it is a pie. There are endless varieties of pies hailing from all over the world and for every occasion. Some are served hot, like the traditional cherry pie, or cold, like the chocoholic’s favorite French silk pie. Next time you are craving some delicious pie, don’t go to the store and buy an off-the-shelf pie. Take the time (and rack up the courage) to make your own. Ask your mother or grandmother how they make their pies so amazing every time. Go online and try out a new recipe just for the fun of it. Most cookbooks have a section devoted to pie, or at least offer a couple classic recipes in the dessert section. There are hundreds of recipes for all seasons, occasions, and meals. Though you may need to use a recipe the first few times, eventually you will gain the confidence to start experimenting with fillings and crust designs. Remember that the secret to any good pie is its crust. Keep the dough cold and handle it a little as possible before baking. That extra care will make all the difference and produce a flawless flaky crust. Everyone you share your creation with will appreciate the effort you took to make their day just a little brighter. Pie may not be “easy” per se, but it is simple. Have no fear, and enjoy the deliciousness you will create!
For more information about pie and some great recipes, check out these links.