There are American apple pie recipes, both manuscript and printed, from as early as the eighteenth century. Yet, what we consider to be apple pie has been around in Europe since the Middle Ages. Medieval and Renaissance recipes for apple pies or tarts have shown up, in one form or another, in English, French, Italian, and German recipe collections that span centuries and which show a wide variety of ways to prepare apple pie.
English apple pie recipes go back to the time of Chaucer. The recipe above from 1381 lists the ingredients as good apples, good spices, figs, raisins and pears. The cofyn of the recipe is a casing of pastry. Saffron is used for coloring the pie filling. Cloves are a popular addition, tempering the sweetness in much the same way as cinnamon. The absence of sugar in the recipe may indicate that, because refined sugar was a recent introduction from the Orient, the medieval English did not have as sweet a tooth as their descendants!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
For Pie Crust: Cassandra likes Oronoque Orchards (by Mrs. Smith’s) frozen pie crusts
For Filling: (Makes one pie)
3 lbs apples, such as Gala, Cortland, Granny Smith or McIntosh, peeled cored and cut into half-inch wedges.
1 cup sugar
½ cup honey, preferably a local, more flavorful raw honey
½ cup cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Zest and juice of one lemon
In a large saucepan, sift together the sugar and cornstarch, then toss with apples, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon juice and zest. Let stand for 20 minutes.
Bring fruit mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened slightly, making sure fruit does not stick to the bottom of saucepan. Remove from heat and cool.
Fill thawed pie shell with the fruit filling and then lay the second dough circle over the filling, press very gently around the edges and flute together. With a paring knife or cookie cutter, puncture the top pie dough to form (a) steam vent(s). If desired, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until the pie filling is starting to bubble out the vents and the top pie crust is golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 1-2 hours before serving.