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In February we celebrate Great American Pie Month. Those who don’t care for this baked desert may leave the room while the rest of us enjoy a tasty slice of pie history.
Pie recipes traveled to the Massachusetts Bay Colony along with the first English settlers. It wasn’t long before pies evolved from the savory kidney and mincemeat varieties of Great Britain into sweet concoctions made with the fruits that flourished along the Atlantic Coast.
American pie crusts tended to be lighter and flakier than their English cousins because they were more often made with lard from pigs rather than the traditional tallow from cows. Many colonial bakers cooked their pies in long narrow pans called “coffins.”
American pies have often reflected the culture and foods of various regions. “Chess pie,” with its filling of sugar, cream or buttermilk, egg, and sometimes bourbon, became popular in the South. In Pennsylvania, Dutch settlers made “shoofly” pies, which featured molasses, as well as savory meat dishes known as pot pies.
Settlers in Florida used local limes as the main ingredient in key lime pie. New Hampshire became known for its fried hand pies, called “crab lanterns.” The Midwest, with its plentiful dairy farms, specialized in recipes using cheese and cream. Native Americans introduced French settlers in New Orleans to pecans, and—voila—pecan pie quickly followed.
By 1900, Americans were eating more apple pie than any other variety, probably because apples grew well across the country and could be stored during the winter. So popular was this variety that the now ubiquitous phrase “as American as apple pie” was used in a 1924 newspaper advertisement for US-made men’s suits.
Today, surveys indicate that the most popular pies in the United States include pecan (especially in the southern states), key lime, pumpkin, and blueberry. But the pie consistently ranked Number One in America is … you guessed, it, apple pie.
Celebrate Pie Month at Idaho Bakeries
- Bean & Pie in Coeur d’Alene, which opened in January 2020, has “handmade pies featuring seasonal flavors and local ingredients” and offers vegan and gluten free options ((208) 930-4065).
- The Pie Hut in Sandpoint has been a local favorite for years. The Hut offers a wide range of cream and fruit pies, pot pies, and lunch ((208) 265-2208).
- In Moscow, Goose House Bakery has a variety of baked goods, including seasonal pies. Offerings might include chocolate bourbon hazelnut pie, classic apple, a flourless chocolate tart, and a roasted orange tart ([email protected]).
- The Boise Pie Company in Boise offers a staggering 58 different pies, some of which are seasonal ( (208) 343-3101).
Happy pie-eating! ISI