The best apple pie recipe is British (imho). It’s quite a bit different than American Apple Pie. I enjoy it so much more, in fact, it’s my favorite apple pie recipe. Read on to find out why, and if you’ll prefer it, too.
Since moving to the US as a little girl, I’ve always wondered about the phrase, “As American as apple pie.” Let me explain why I think the best apple pie recipe is, in fact, a British recipe.
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If you’ve always lived in America, you’ve probably never questioned the apple pie as being “yours”, right? However, if you immigrated here, or have either traveled outside the US, or moved away, you too, have probably pondered–
Why has America Claimed the Apple Pie as their own?
The reason I didn’t understand why apple pie was claimed by Americans is because I had eaten lots of apple pie in Scotland. However, reading some more authoritative research on apple pie by The Smithsonian, I was correct. According to a Time Magazine article, historians have traced pie crusts back to the Greeks. Romans used to fill them with meat and seafood, and also made sweet pies for dessert. “Pyes”, as they were called in Medieval England, were also mostly savory. Even pumpkin pie wasn’t popular in the US until the 1800s and was based on a British spiced squash recipe.
What’s the Difference Between a British and an American Apple Pie?
I remember tasting my first American apple pie, and being really surprised (maybe shocked) when I realized it tasted nothing like what I was expecting. The flavor wasn’t of apple, but cinnamon and spice. I must explain that I do like cinnamon, especially in cinnamon rolls. However, I love to taste the flavor of the apples in an apple pie. so I don’t add any cinnamon to my apple pies, which is the British style.
Apple scones are a British recipe you could also try.
The other thing I noticed, as did my parents, was the thick, and overly sweet filling that contained the apples. There is a lot of cornstarch as well as considerably more sugar, in addition to cinnamon, in apple pies in the USA. This was also not as appealing to us as British apple pies’ filling isn’t goopy or very sweet.
Want to try a British-style apple turnover? Here you go!
Which are the Best Apples to use for Apple Pie?
Unfortunately, we don’t get the variety of cooking apples in the US that are available in the UK (like Bramley), so in the US, the best apple variety to use is Granny Smith. If you use a different type of apple, the flavor and texture of the filling will not be up to par with one made with Granny Smith apples. Yes, it is worth using the right variety!
Apple Pie without Ice Cream?
I also prefer my apple pie with fresh cream or custard, and not vanilla ice cream. Some of you in the US may think that not using cinnamon is bad, but serving apple pie without ice-cream is criminal; however, it all depends on what you’ve grown up with and become accustomed to.
This particular pie (in the photos) was given to a lovely friend as a “thank you”, and I was unsure how my British apple pie would be received. I also handed gave her some heavy organic whipping cream to serve with the pie, and a few days later I was so happy to hear that she and her family absolutely loved the pie and serving it with the cream!
You may also enjoy this British apple dessert: Eve’s Pudding!
Apple Pie Without Cinnamon?
If you have never tasted a British apple pie, then I strongly encourage you to keep the cinnamon in the spice rack, just once. I’d love for you to taste the wonderful flavor of this gorgeous crust, together with the slightly sweetened Granny Smith apples, without an overpowering flavor of spice to mask them.
Here’s how I make my apple pie. I don’t use a recipe for the filling as I always “eye” the ingredients, but I’ve measured them just for you.
The Best Apple Pie Recipe
(My Favorite: British Apple Pie)
recipe via my mother who learned how to make apple pies in Scotland makes one pie (serves 10)
FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW
Ingredients for the Crust
Ingredients for the Filling
- Granny Smith apples
- egg white
- optional: sugar to sprinkle on top
- heavy whipping cream or custard
Special equipment: 9″ pie dish (the link takes you to a similar Emile Henry dish like the one I used)
Preheat oven to 400º F (200º C)
Prepare the Filling
Place all the ingredients for the filling in a pot over medium-low heat. Cook gently, turning the apples by tossing them in the pot every few minutes. Cook until the apples are just starting to become softened, but are still firm and hold their shape.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Here are my directions for making pie crust, however, if you do not have a food processor, you can cut the butter into the flour with two knives, then use your hands to rub it in at the end, and stir in the water with a wooden spoon.
Recipe for Pie Pastry in Under 1 Minute.
Prepare the Pastry
Once you have the pie pastry, cut out a third and set it aside.
Now roll out the remaining pastry on a floured work surface until it is large enough to accomodate the pie dish. (I hold the dish over the pastry and make sure it extends about 2″ all around.)
Gently roll the pastry onto the rolling pin until you can lift it, then place it onto the pie dish.
Don’t worry if there are some cracks; just wet your finger and rub some water into the crack and join the pieces together.
Assemble the Pie
With a knife, trim the pastry all along the pie dish, using the edge as a guide, then fill it with the apples.
Roll out the remaining piece of pastry; wet the edge with your finger dipped in a bowl of water, until the entire perimeter is wet, then place the pastry on top of the pie.
Once again, trim the pastry, using the dish as a guide.
Crimp the edges any way you like (I did this method with my thumb and index finger) and then cut a hole in the center of the British apple pie, about 1″ long.
I also used some leftover pastry to cut out two leaf shapes and drew lines on them with a thin, sharp knife, then wet the underneath so they stuck to the pie.
Brush the entire crust with the beaten egg white, which will ensure a lovely golden color.
Bake the Apple Pie
Bake in 400º F (200º C) oven for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown color. Ovens vary significantly, but I place my pies on the lower rack for about 20 minutes, then move it to the center rack so that the bottom crust cooks well, however adjust your placement and baking time according to your own oven.
When ready, remove British apple pie from the oven and immediately dust with sugar (optional). Allow to cool slightly or completely before cutting and serving.
Serve the Best Apple Pie!
Slice and serve with whipped cream, or custard.
Our cream in the US is very runny, so to mimic double cream in the UK, I slightly beat the cream until it starts to thicken, then pour it over a slice of British apple pie in a bowl.
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- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 oz (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp sugar
- a little ice water
- 4 cups (1 lb) flour
- 5 or 6 large, organic Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into about 12 pieces ea
- juice of half a fresh lemon
- 3 to 4 tbsp sugar (more or less to taste)
- 1 egg white, slightly beaten with a tsp of water, to brush the pie crust
- Thick cream or custard
- Preheat oven to 400º F (200º C)
- Place all the ingredients for the filling in a pot over medium-low heat. Cook gently, turning the apples by tossing them in the pot every few minutes. Cook until the apples are just starting to become softened, but are still firm and hold their shape. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Put the flour, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add a little ice water and pulse again until the mixture starts to come together. The pastry is ready; roll out and place into pie dish.
- With a knife, trim the pastry all along the pie dish, using the edge as a guide, then fill it with the apples.
- Roll out the remaining piece of pastry; wet the edge with your finger dipped in a bowl of water, until the entire perimeter is wet, then place the pastry on top of the pie. Trim the pastry, using the dish as a guide.
- Crimp the edges any way you like and then cut a hole in the center of the pie, about 1″ long.
- Brush the entire crust with the beaten egg white, which will ensure a lovely golden color.
- Bake in 400º F (200º C) oven for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown color. Ovens vary significantly, but I place my pies on the lower rack for about 20 minutes, then move it to the center rack so that the bottom crust cooks well, however adjust your placement and baking time according to your own oven.
- When ready, remove from the oven and immediately dust with Baker’s (extrafine) sugar (caster sugar in the UK) and let cool slightly before serving.
- Our cream in the US is very runny, so to mimic double cream in the UK, I slightly beat the cream until it starts to thicken, then pour it over a slice of pie in a bowl.
- Alternately, a homemade custard or Bird’s custard is lovely when served over this delicious apple pie: quintessentially British!
Skip the sugar on top if you want a pie that's really minimal on the sugar.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 427Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 25mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 4gSugar: 19gProtein: 6g
Nutrition information is only estimated.
- 1¼ cups (10 oz) milk (I use whole milk)
- ½ vanilla bean or a few drops of vanilla (the bean will taste much better)
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 to 3 tsp sugar, depending on you sweet you like it
- 1 tsp corn starch
- Split open the vanilla bean and place in a small pot along with the milk. Heat over medium low heat, meanwhile, prepare the rest of the custard.
- In a small bowl, whisk the yolks, sugar and corn starch together until well combined.
- When the milk begins to simmer, remove the vanilla bean and pour about half a cup of hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking quickly. Add the rest of the milk, then whisk and return to the pot.
- Heat over medium heat and continue stirring, taking care that the custard doesn't stick or burn, using a wooden spoon is best at this point (the photo below is before I switched to the wooden spoon)! Add the vanilla extract if not using the vanilla bean. Continue to stir until the custard begins to thicken.
- Remove from heat, use as desired. If pouring over a dessert, use immediately.
egg custard, dessert sauce, British
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 3 ounces
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 141Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 45mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 8g
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