...not by bread alone
the purpose of a pastry shell was to serve as a storage container or serving vessel
Historically, around the early 1500s, the first pies, probably on the European continent, were called "coffins" or "coffyns". They were savory meat pies with tall crusts which were sealed on the top and bottom. Open crust pies were called "traps". These pies held assorted meats and sauces and were baked like a modern casserole with no pan.
The origins of pie can actually be traced to the ancient Egyptians, who incorporated nuts, honey and fruits into bread dough. However, according to most food historians, pie pastry actually originated with the Greeks. At that time they were made of a flour and water paste which was wrapped around meat to seal in the juices. The Romans took home Greek recipes and developed their own pies, cakes and cake-like puddings. The pie craze then spread throughout Europe, via the Roman roads, every country adapting them to their own customs and foods. English women were baking pies long before the settlers came to America, but by the 1700s American pioneer women often served pies with every meal.
Samuel Clemens, who used the pseudonym Mark Twain, loved pie and often ate Huckleberry pie baked by his life-long housekeeper, Katy Leary. After a trip to Europe, where he developed a strong dislike for European food, he complained that "...it has been many months...since I have had a nourishing meal..." He ironically devised a recipe for "English Pie". His tongue-in-cheek recipe, hinting at the awfulness if these pies, follows:
"...Take a sufficiency of water and flour and construct a bullet-proof dough. Work this into the form of a disk, with edges turned up some three fourths of an inch. Toughen and kiln-dry for a couple days in a mild but unvarying temperature. Construct a cover for this "formidable creation", in the same way and of the same material. Filled with stewed dried apples. Aggravate with cloves, lemon peel and citron, and add two portions of New Orleans sugar. Then solder on the lid and sit in a safe place until it petrifies. Serve cold at breakfast and invite you enemies."
Traditional Kentucky Pie
Many of the pies which became associated with Kentucky, came from the Shakers of the Amish in Indiana. Two very popular ones are the Sugar Cream Pie and the Shaker Lemon Pie. Another is Vinegar Pie.
The Sugar Cream Pie was a simple, basic, "desperation" pie made with ingredients that were always nearby or on-hand at the farm. When making this pie "finger-stirring" in the unbaked crust was necessary, so as not to whip the cream before baking.
Only three ingredients go into Shaker Lemon Pie : lemon slices (peel and all), sugar, and eggs. The filling is more like marmalade. Where did the Shakers get the lemons? It is said that they traveled in boats to New Orleans to sell their wares and returned with cash and lemons.
This is a very tart lemon
pie which uses whole lemons, rind and all, inside the pie. They are
first sliced very thin, then macerated overnight, four lemons to two
cups of sugar. The key to this pie is slicing the lemons very thin.
lemons are not in season, pioneer women baked pies with vinegar, which
substituted for lemon juice. They were custardy and still had a
fruit-like flavor from the vinegar. Vinegar Pie remained popular in
regency England, throughout the nineteenth century, even after English
settlers brought it to America.
Sugar Cream Pie
pastry for one 9-inch pie crust
3/4 cups sugar
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
pre-heat oven to 450 degrees and prepare the pie pastry. Place sugar and flour in the unbaked pie shell. Add whipping cream and mix well, using you fingers to slowly mix the liquid ingredients. Add vanilla and continue stirring. Grate nutmeg over the top. Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Reduce heat to 350 and continue baking, approximately one hour. Do not over bake. Remove from oven. The pie will appear runny, but sets when it cools. If the pie doesn't set, get out some spoons and enjoy it anyhow
1 nine-inch pastry crust
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cider vinegar
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a blender or large mixing bowl, mix together eggs, butter, sugar and vanilla. Pour into pie shell. Bake about 50 minutes until firm. Let cool. Top with whipped cream.
Shaker Village, Pleasantville, KY
Shaker Lemon Pie (late 18th c.)
2 nine inch pastry crusts
2 medium sized lemons
2 cups sugar
Slice two lemons paper thin.Take out seeds and macerate the slices in two cups of sugar overnight. Stir the mixture now and then so that the sugar dissolves into a fragrant syrup. The next day, prepare pastry for a nine inch two crust pie. Beat four eggs well, then mix them with the syrup and lemon slices. Pour the mix into the bottom crust and cover with the top crust. Bake at 450 degrees for fifteen minutes, then reduce heat to 375. Bake an additional 20-25 minutes, or until knife inserted into pie comes out clean.