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apple pie / dried apple pie

apple. A well-known fruit-tree of the genus Pyrus; the apple-tree. The European crab-apple is supposed to be the original kind, from which all others have sprung. — Webster, 1882

pie. An article of food consisting of paste baked with something in it or under it, as apple, minced meat, &c. — Webster, 1882

Popular taste for pies change with the seasons. There is one steady stand-by. That is apple pie. – July 27, 1883, Bridgeton (New Jersey) Evening News


Sliced apples tossed in sugar and spices.

Adding the top crust.

Ready to go in the oven!

Freshly-baked pie.

Have a taste.

Have a taste.

The Wilders serve apple pie not only for dessert; they have it for breakfast, along with oatmeal, fried potatoes, buckwheat cakes, sausage, and doughnuts. But best of all Almanzo liked the spicy apple pie, with its thick rich juice and its crumbly crust. He ate two big wedges of the pie. (Farmer Boy, Chapter 3, “Winter Night”)

In the Little House books, the Ingalls family only has dried apple pie or mock apple pie made with green pumpkin, but surely Caroline Ingalls made her share of fresh apple pies in De Smet. According to Marion Hinz, daughter of Little House character Henry Hinz, there were several nice apple trees in the yard of the Ingallses’ Third Street house. (1965 letter to Greg Smith) There had been apple trees on the homestead as well. According to Charles Ingalls’ May 7, 1886, testimony made as part of final proof, he stated that there were planted “apple trees bearing” as one of the improvements he had made to the land.

Everybody who likes (and makes) apple pie has their favorite recipe. It really is easy to make: Line a 9-inch glass pie pan with a bottom crust and set aside or refrigerate while proceeding. In a large mixing bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar (more if you like a sweeter pie), a pinch of salt, a tablespoon cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg. Peel, core, and slice 5-6 cups of apples (I use Granny Smith). As you slice the apples, put them in the sugar mixture and toss lightly. Once all the apples are sliced, add a tablespoon or more of lemon juice and/or a teaspoon of vanilla extract for flavor and moisture. Arrange the slices on the bottom crust (or just dump them in), mounding in the center, as the apples will settle considerably during cooking. Dot with about a tablespoon and a half of butter cut in small pieces. Cover with a pricked top crust and crimp the edges. Bake in a 450 degree oven for about ten minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake until cooked through and nicely browned, about 45 minutes of total baking time. If cooked too long, the apples will turn to mush.

Apple Pie with Cheese. After eating a huge Sunday dinner, Almanzo Wilder finishes his meal with a slice of apple pie with cheese. Fruit and cheese eaten together were thought to aid in digestion, and were often served at the end of meals. Serving apple pie with cheese (usually cheddar) seems to have come from the New England States, but nobody really knows how the pairing got started. Perhaps it was simply that the salty earthiness of the cheese complemented the syrupy sweetness and tartness of the cooked apples.

Dried Apple Pie. Dried apples are good keepers, and pioneers knew to dry fresh apples to have on hand when apples weren’t in season. Dried apples were reconstituted before baking, by soaking in water, apple juice, or apple cider. The mixture was then cooked on top of the stove or in the oven until apples were soft, the liquid drained, and then used as pie filling.



Early recipes for Apple Pie.

Apple Pie. When you make an apple pie, stew your apples very little indeed; just strike them through, to make them tender. Some people do not stew them at all, but cut them up in very thin slices, and lay them in the crust. Pies made in this way may retain more of the spirit of the apple, but I do not think the seasoning mixes in as well. Put in sugar to your taste; it is impossible to make a precise rule, because apples vary so much in acidity. A very little salt, and a small piece of butter in each pie, makes them richer. Cloves and cinnamon are both suitable spice. Lemon-brandy and rose-water are both excellent. A wine-glass full of each is sufficient for three or four pies. If your apples lack spirit, grate in a whole lemon. — Lydia Maria Francis Child, The Frugal Housewife (Boston: Carter and Hendee, 1830), 67-68.

Apple Pie. Peel the apples, slice them thin, pour a little molasses, and sprinkle some sugar over them; grate on some lemon-peel, or nutmeg. If you wish to make them richer, put a little butter on the top. — Esther Allen Howland, The New England Economical Housekeeper (Cincinnati: H.W. Denby, 1845), 42.

An Excellent Apple Pie. Take fair apples; pare, core, and quarter them. Take four tablespoonfuls of powdered sugar to a pie. Put into a preserving pan, with the sugar, water enough to make a thin syrup; throw in a few blades of mace, boil the apple in the syrup until tender, a little at a time, so as not to break the pieces. Take them out with care, and lay them in soup dishes. When you have preserved apple enough for your number of pies, add to the remainder of the syrup, cinnamon and rose water, or any other spice, enough to flavor it well, and dive it among the pies. Make a good paste, and line the rim of the dishes, and then cover them, leaving the pies without an under crust. Bake them a light brown. — Catherine Esther Beecher, Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt Book (New York: Harper, 1850), 111-112.

Apple Custard Pie. Pare, slice and stew ripe tart apples, mash very fine, or put through colander. For each pie one yolk of egg, one cup of sugar, two-thirds cup of rich milk, one teaspoon butter; flavor with nutmeg. Bake with one crust. Beat the white of egg with a little sugar, spread over top, brown in oven. — Mrs. F. S. Clark in Kitchen Echoes (De Smet: The News Job Office, 1909), 58.

Apple Pie. Cover an inverted pie plate with crisp pastry dough, prick with fork, bake in oven. Have ready 6 or 7 tart apples, stewed and strained free of lumps, then sweetened to taste. Fill baked pie crusts with stewed apples. Cover with sweetened well-whipped cream, sprinkle with chopped nuts. Serve with cheese. — Elizabeth Stanfield, Sunday Dinners (Atlanta: Privately published, n.d.), 11.

Dried Apple Pie. Take twp quarts dried apples, put them into an earthen pot that contains one gallon, fill it with water and set it in a hot oven, adding one handful of cranberries; after baking one hour fill up the pot again with water; when done and the apple cold, strain it and add thereto the juice of three or four limes, raisins, sugar, orange peel and cinnamon to your taste, lay in a paste. — The Cook Not Mad or National Cookery (Watertown, New York: Knowlton & Rice, 1831), 24.


apple pie (FB 3, 8, 14; SSL 21; TLW 3)
     with cheese (FB 8)
     dried apple pie / dried-apple pie (BW 4; SSL 21, TLW 33; PG)