Sunday, August 7, 2016

Seasons of pie

Since I've decided to make Pie my business (literally) I started pondering some questions in regards to Pie...
Where did pies originate from?  What were some of the first pies to please Americans?
Do people eat more pie during during the summer or winter months?
What kinds of pies are most popular?

First, shame on me for not knowing about the APC (American Pie Council) beforehand.  While researching the answers to my questions I came across their website and let's just say it got me distracted.  Anyway, I found some interesting information about the history of pie.  Pies have been around since ancient Egypt and were made by the early Greeks, then the Romans.  And "coffyn" or coffin was the original term used for pie crust in England, as far back as the twelfth century.  The original purpose of the pastry shell was mostly to serve as a vessel and not really to be eaten with the filling.  Check out the APC site for more interesting facts.
It seems like the early English settlers brought their love of pies with them.  The types of pies made, as far back as American history began, have always been extensive.  The ingredients included meat and fowl, fish, fruit and berries, and cream and custard.  Pie was a standard breakfast dish for rural families, especially for the men who had to wake up and begin their chores before breakfast was prepared by the women.  Pies were made in large quantities during the winter months and kept frozen.  Making pies was so common in America that it's actually hard to find recipes in many old American cookbooks for such classics like Apple, Cranberry, or Pumpkin.  It was kind of assumed that every housewife had her own recipe for pastry.  This was also true for many Amish communities.  Growing up in Pennsylvania, and not too far from a large Amish community out in Lancaster County, I had always associated classic American Pies with Amish cuisine.

How can you pick a favorite?  Apple pie is not only the most common, but the most popular.  Pumpkin coming in second, Chocolate Cream, then Cherry, Pecan, and Blueberry, following up with Lemon Meringue, Key Lime, and Peach.  Other findings show that Coconut Custard, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Peanut Butter are among some of America's favorites.  Interestingly enough I found that some pies were more popular based on where the people surveyed lived in America.  Different states had different favorites.
Varieties of pies are, of course, endless.  However, people tend to gravitate towards these classics.
Bringing us to one of my other questions; what pies are typically eaten during different times of the year?  Eating foods that are in season makes sense.  And so does making pies based on what fruits and/or vegetables can be sourced locally.  With that being said, besides the obvious popular choices of say, Pumpkin in October,  here is a list of pies according to season:


Since local fruit is not in season in the winter months, for us here in the northeast, it makes sense that tropical or citrus pies tend to be more popular.  Think Lemon Meringue and Key-Lime Pies.  Of course, chocolate is always in season.


Before the berries begin to ripen, cream pies make for a perfect start to Spring.  Then later when Spring is in full bloom, berries make for a great pie; think blackberry, blueberry, strawberry and raspberry. 


Berries are still plentiful! Apricots and other stone fruits, like plums, make for a scrumptious, non-traditional pie or tart.  Peaches in August, go well in a pie by themselves or add blueberries.

*I made blueberry and a mixed berry pie for the 4th of July this year.

I decided to use blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries.  I wanted to make this with a twist and added a sweet herb simple syrup to the mix.  I melted sugar with water and a mix of basil, mint, and lemon verbena.  It went over with mixed reviews- so, I might just stick with the traditional plain sugar sweetener.
I thought it would be cute to mimic the stars and stripes of the American Flag with the pastry.

I used cookie cutters and a pastry wheel to create the design.  I had never tried creating a unique crust like this before.  It was actually easier
than I thought it would be.
I don't know if I mentioned this before, but, even though I love baking I was never very good at making my desserts beautiful. I guess I'm thinking of my cakes and cupcakes; icing and piping are not my specialties.  Since this was easy, I would like to practice and explore more decorative pastry options.

Here is the finished pie after coating the top with an egg wash and sugar.

The other pie I made was one I have made a few times in the past.  Its a slight spin off blueberry pie, by adding a small amount of pepper.  It's always a crowd pleaser.  I thought it would pair well with my homemade almond milk.  And it did!
Cracked Pepper Blueberry Crumble!

Cracked Pepper Blueberry Crumble Pie with Homemade Almond Milk

I love this pie!


As the weather begins to turn colder and the days shorter baking pie just feels right.  And nothing is nicer than smelling a freshly baked Apple Pie.  Root vegetables are readily available like sweet potatoes, which make for a great pie.  A couple of other classic fall favorites; pumpkin and pecan.

Check out this article from The Modern Farmer for a fun "Pie" Chart with suggestions for a pie a month.
In my next post I will discuss an important part of business- Networking. Which was inspired by a friend who recently contacted me about a business opportunity.  I'll of course go into more detail next time.

Until then...take care,