How to Make an American Pie

Amerikanischer Cherry-Pie

After a long break I am going to do another “how to” tutorial. This is geared towards German people and non-Americans because I am going to talk about pie. What exactly is a pie? The most traditional pie has a dough base (pie crust) and a filling, it may have a second pie crust it is covered with. It was already popular among the American pioneers as it didn’t contain any leavener and could all be done by hand. It usually contains few ingredients such as flour, sugar, butter, egg, and milk and/or fruit or meats and has reached popularity also outside of the U.S. The most traditional pie is probably the apple pie, pumpkin pie or pecan pie is another classic you will find everywhere for Thanksgiving. In Germany pie is not that popular, even though the Europeans brought their different pies and tarts to the U.S. in the first place before it became so popular in the U.S.

It is impossible to find a proper pie form in Germany, I searched high and low, I used a springform (you can see a few pictures below with a springform), I used a tart form, until I finally gave up and simply ordered one online.  The one I currently use (I have two) is this one and it serves me well. What I do like about a proper pie form is that it chamfered, meaning that you will get more filling than in a tart form or springform. Below I will introduce you to many pie recipes and will give you tips on how to make sure that you are doing a proper American pie.

Amerikanischer Key Lime Pie

#1 American pie crust is normally done with water instead of egg

One of the main differences between German pie crust versus American pie crust is the fact that Germans usually use an egg as a binder whereas Americans use water. This classic apple pie and this rhubarb pie are two prime examples. However, obviously you will find many more binders in American recipes as well. This peach pie was prepared with buttermilk, this cherry pie with vodka, this apple pie with cream cheese dough and this one with yoghurt. If you need some tips on how to make pie crust from scratch, I would recommend  this blog post. During the times of my grandparents lard and other fats were used to create the pie dough. Lard makes pie flaky yet elastic. However, I prefer an all-butter pie crust. I simply find Crisco suspicious and artifical.

#2 If your pie has a second pie crust, traditionally you will create a lattice

If you want your pie to look like a proper pie, go for a lattice topping. If you need visual help, check out this video.  In this video I will show you how to crimp the edges and what to do with the overhang. If you feel this is too advanced for you, I recommend going with the traditional five slits. The chicken pot pie pictured below is a wonderful example for a savory pie. If you want to show off, you may wish to go for roses and other decorations. Below you will see an apple cranberry pie. If you are looking for something more intermediate, why not start with roses like for this strawberry pie.Amerikanischer Chicken-Pot-PieHow to make pie rosesErdbeer-Pie mit süßen Röschen

#3 Of course you can cover pie also with whipping cream, meringue or crumbs (streusel)

Pie does not necessarily need to be covered with another crust, you may wish to go for whipping cream, like for this banoffee pie, you may cover it with beaten egg whites, like for this lemon meringue pie or you may go for crumbs/streusel. Piped whipping cream is typically found on key lime pie.


#4 A newer version of pie replaces the dough with a cookie crust

If pie crust scares you, how about a cookie crust. In the U.S. usually graham crackers are finely processed and mixed with melted butter before you press them down in the pie form. However, in Germany you will usually go for plain cookies (Butterkekse). This cookie crust is then filled as desired. One popular recipe is the banoffee pie with banana and caramel or key lime pie.

#5 Classic pies are often with fruit fillings

Especially in spring and summer, fruit pies are popular. How about making a rhubarb pie, strawberry pie, peach pie, blueberry pie or cherry pie. In fall and winter apples are my go-to. How about classic apple pie, apple pie with cream cheese dough, apple pie with caramel (one of my favorites), apple pie with a bit of whisky, or apple cranberry pie with almonds. You may also like this cranberry pie. If citric pies are more to your liking, then how about lemon meringue pie or key lime pie. Of course there are also pies with a rather cream filling, like pumpkin or chocolate. I don’t have any of these yet on my blog. However, if you like nuts, how about pecan pie. In Germany you may replace the pecans with walnuts.

Pecan pie with no corn syrup

#6 Pies can be frozen beautifully

You may wish to freeze the prepared pie crusts or unbaked pies fully prepared. It is important to make sure that your pie is covered tightly before freezing and it does not hurt to label and date. When I spent a year in Canada, I was amazed to see that the summer months were busy with prepating pies upon pies and then all of them were frozen. Once fall and winter came, a pie would be pulled out of the freezer, freshly baked and then served for Sunday dinner. That was quite an experience for me. If you want to freeze pies, I would always recommend freezing unbaked pies. Make sure to add about 20 more minutes to the baking time and just as you would with frozen pizza, simply put straight from the freezer into the oven to have a fresh pie at your disposal.

Cranberry-PieCranberry pie

#7 Pies are often served with ice cream

OK, this is definitely something for my German friends as many don’t know that pie cane be served with cie cream. I especially enjoy pie that is still warm with a scoop of ice cream. Pie that is warm is harder to cut, most definitely, but that flavor! If you want to get pretty slices, chill overnight and cut with a sharp knife. Of course you can warm a piece of pie quickly in the microwave. Below picture shows apple pie with caramel.

Apple Pie mit Karamell

#8 Hand pies are perfect as a snack, for a party or as finger food

Hand pies are pies in a tiny form. They are perfect for a snack, a party or as finger food. Below you will see blueberry hand pies and savory mini pies with chicken filling.

Blueberry Hand PieHandliche Mini-Pies mit Hähnchenfüllung I hope this post inspired you a bit to actually bake a pie. As I love fruits, pies are perfect for me. I will always choose pie instead of a sickening sweet cake. I am sure you are going to make somebody happy if you try a pie from scratch. I hope you enjoy!

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