Supplemental Information

  1. Introduction
  2. Apples For An Apple Pie
  3. Evolution of the Pie Throughout the Years
  4. Helpful Tools For Baking Pies
  5. Types of Pies
  6. Varieties Of Pie Crusts


Pie Recipes

Recipes and Tips for making Pie.

Pies throughout the years

1545 - A cookbook from the mid 16th century that also includes some account of domestic life, cookery and feasts in Tudor days, called “A Proper newe Booke of Cokerye, declarynge what maner of  meates be beste in season, for al times in the yere, and how they ought to be dressed, and  serued at the table, bothe for fleshe dayes, and fyshe days” appears and has a basic recipe for a pie.

1553 - From the English translation by Valoise Armstrong of the 1553 German cookbook “Kochbunch der Sabina Welserine”, includes a recipe for pastry dough.

9500 B.C. - Historians have recorded that the roots of pie can loosely be traced back to the ancient Egyptians during the Neolithic Period or New Stone Age beginning around 9500 BC. The Neolithic Period is characterized by the use of stone tools shaped by polishing or grinding, the domestication of plants or animals, the establishment of permanent villages, and the practice of such crafts as pottery and weaving. These early forms of pies are known as galettes, which are essentially rustic free-form pies. Our ancestors made these pie-like treats with oat, wheat, rye, and barley, then filled them with honey and baked the dish over hot coals.

1304 to 1237 B.C. - The bakers to the pharaohs incorporated nuts, honey, and fruits in bread dough, a primitive form of pastry. Drawings of this can be found etched on the tomb walls of Ramses II, located in the Valley of the Kings. King Ramses II was the third pharaoh in the 19th dynasty. He ruled from 1304 to 1237 B.C.

The tradition of galettes was carried on by the Greeks. Historians believe that the Greeks actually originated pie pastry. The pies during this period were made by a flour-water paste wrapped around meat; this served to cook the meat and seal in the juices.

The Romans, sampling the delicacy, carried home recipes for making it (a prize of victory when they conquered Greece). The wealthy and educated Romans used various types of meat in every course of the meal, including the dessert course (secundae mensea). According to historical records, oysters, mussels, lampreys, and other meats and fish were normal in Roman puddings. It is thought that the puddings were a lot like pies..

160 B.C. - The Roman statesman, Marcus Porcius Cato (234-149 B.C.), also known as Cato the Elder, wrote a treatise on agriculture called “De Agricultura”. He loved delicacies and recorded a recipe for his era's most popular pie/cake called Placenta. They were also called libum by the Romans, and were primarily used as an offering to their gods. Placenta was more like a cheesecake, baked on a pastry base, or sometimes inside a pastry case.

The delights of the pie spread throughout Europe, via the Roman roads, where every country adapted the recipes to their customs and foods.


13th Century - A Tortoise or Mullet Pie was in the 13th century cookbook called “An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook” of the Thirteenth Century.

14th Century - During Charles V (1364-1380), King of France, reign, the important event at banquets was not dishes of food but acts such as minstrels, magicians, jugglers, and dancers.

The chefs entered into the fun by producing elaborate "soteltie". Sotelties were food disguised in an ornamental way (sculptures made from edible ingredients but not always intended to be eaten or even safe to eat). In the 14th to 17th centuries, the sotelty was not always a food, but any kind of entertainment to include minstrels, troubadours, acrobats, dancers and other performers. The sotelty was used to alleviate the boredom of waiting for the next course to appear and to entertain the guest. If possible, the sotelty was supposed to make the guests gasp with delight and to be amazed at the ingenuity of the sotelty maker.

During this time period, the Duke of Burgundy's chef made an immense pie which opened to the strains of 28 musicians playing from within the pie. Out of the pie came a captive girl representing the "captive" Church in the Middle East.

15th Century - At the coronation of eight-year old English King Henry VI (1422-1461) in 1429, a partridge pie, called "Partryche and Pecock enhackyll," was served. This dish consisted of a cooked peacock mounted in its skin, placed on top of a large pie. Other birds like partridges, swans, bitterns and herons were frequently placed on top of pies for ornament and as a means of identifying the contents.

1626 - Jeffrey Hudson (1619-1682), famous 17th century dwarf, was served up in a cold pie as a child. England's King Charles I (1600-1649) and 15-year old Queen Henrietta Maria (1609–1669) passed through Rutland and were being entertained at a banquet being given in their honor by the Duke and Duckess of Buckingha. At the dinner, an enormous crust-covered pie was brought before the royal couple. Before the Queen could cut into the pie, the crust began to rise and from the pie emerged a tiny man, perfectly proportioned boy, but only 18 inches tall named Jeffrey Hudson. Hudson, seven years old the smallest human being that anyone had ever seen, was dressed in a suit of miniature armor climbed out of a gilded pastry pie stood shyly on the table in front of the Queen and bowed low. Hudson was later dubbed Lord Minimus.

Hudson would remain with the queen for the next 18 years, serving as the Queen's Dwarf, where he became a trusted companion and court favorite. His life after being a court favourite was just as interesting. He was kidnapped by pirates twice, in 1633, his portrait, along with Queen Henrietta Maria, was painted by Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), the famous 17th century painter, and then he spent the next quarter-century as a slave in North Africa.

1620 - The Pilgrims brought their favorite family pie recipes with them to America. The colonist and their pies adapted simultaneously to the ingredients and techniques available to them in the New World. At first, they baked pie with berries and fruits pointed out to them by the Native Americans. Colonial women used round pans literally to cut corners and stretch the ingredients (for the same reason they baked shallow pies).

1700s - Pioneer women often served pies with every meal, thus firmly cementing this pastry into a unique form of American culture. With food at the heart of gatherings and celebrations, pie quickly moved to the forefront of contests at county fairs, picnics, and other social events. As settlers moved westward, American regional pies developed. Pies are continually being adapted to changing conditions and ingredients.

A Pie of Sweetbreads was one of George Washington's, the first President of the United States, favorite pie recipes, which are taken from “Martha's Historic Cook Book”, a possessions of the Pennsylvania Historical Society. Martha Washington (1731-1802) was an excellent cook and the book features some of the dishes that were prepared by the original First Lady in her colonial kitchen at Mount Vernon.

1800s - Whenever Emperor William I of Germany visited Queen Victoria (1819-1901) of England, his favorite pie was served. It contained a whole turkey stuffed with a chicken, the chicken stuffed with a pheasant, the pheasant stuffed with a woodcock.

1880-1910 - Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), a.k.a. Mark Twain, was a big fan of eating pies. His life-long housekeeper and friend (she was with the family for 30 years), Katy Leary, often baked Huckleberry pie to lure her master into breaking his habit of going without lunch.

1900s  - The appetite of James Buchanan Brady (1856–1917), known as Diamond Jim Brady, a legendary glutton and ladies' man, was awesome. One dinner that Brady particularly liked to recall was arranged by architect Stanford White (1853-1906). A huge pie was wheeled in, a dancer emerged, unclothed, and walked the length of the banquet table, stopping at Brady's seat and falling into his lap. As she spoon-fed the millionaire, more dancers appeared and attended to the feeding needs of the other guests. Brady was known to finish lunch with an array of pies (not slices of different pies, but several pies). It was said that would begin his meal by sitting six inches from the table and would quit only when his stomach rubbed uncomfortably against the edge.

In its most basic definition, pie crust is a simple mix of flour and water. The addition of fat makes it pastry. In all times and places, the grade of the ingredients depends upon the economic status of the cook. Apicius [1st Century AD] makes reference to a simple recipe for crust (see below). Medieval cooking texts typically instruct the cook to lay his fruit or meat in a "coffin," no recipe provided. Up through Medieval times, pie crust was often used as a cooking receptacle. It was vented with holes and sometimes marked to distinguish the baker/owner. Whether or not the crust was consumed or discarded is debated by food historians. Some hypothesize the crust would have been rendered inedible due to extreme thickness and baking time. Others observe flour, and by association flour-based products, was expensive and would not have been thrown away. Possibly? Pies baked in grand Medieval houses served two classes: the wealthy at the contents and the crust was given to the servants or poor.

"Pies and tarts...In the Middle Ages, these sweet and savory preparations baked in a crust were the specialty of patissiers--who had no other functions...We know that medieval cooks did not always have ovens, and they worked with patissiers, to whom they sometimes brought fillings of their own making for the patissier to place in a crust and bake. This explains why cookbooks intended for professional chefs were nearly silent about the ingredients of these pastry wrappings, but spoke only about consistency an thickness, and about the most suitable shapes...Still, medieval cooks might take a chance and cook a simple pie or tart on their own by placing it in a shallow pan, covered with a lid and surrounded by live embers, whose progress they had to monitor very closely...In effect, the pastry because an oven, ensuring moderate heat thanks to its insulating properties.


See Also