What is the common link between the apple and the shepherd? Both kinds of pie are fantastic!
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Round, with a flaky crust, and exploding with flavours savoury or sweet, pies are family favourites in North America, the UK and many other parts of the world. Historians trace the origins of pies to the Greeks, who are thought to be the inventors of the pastry shell, which they created by combining water with flour. The Romans learned about it through the Greeks and crafted pies in “reeds”, which were used solely for holding the filling, and not for eating. The first pie recipe also dates back to the Romans (it was for a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie).
With the Romans, pies found their way to tabletops across Europe. The Oxford English Dictionary even notes that the word “pie” was immensely popular in the 14th century. In England, particularly, “pyes” (as they were called) originally appeared as early as the 12th century. The pie crust was called a “coffyn” because the pie was baked in long, narrow, coffin-like pans, and usually, there was more crust in the pie than the filling.
According to the American Pie Council, often, English pies were made using fowl and the bird’s legs were left to hang over the side of the dish, and were used as handles. Fruit pies became popular in the 1500s, with the invention of the first cherry pie being credited to Queen Elizabeth I.
Today, pies are beloved baked dishes, enjoyed all over the world. The classic apple pie, which is often served warm, with ice cream or whipped cream, is the perfect dessert on a balmy summer day (or any day for that matter).
The hearty shepherd’s pie, which was first made in the late 1700s, was invented by Irish housewives who hated watching their families waste food during economically difficult times. Initially called cottage pie, the creative homecooks used leftover vegetables, along with meat, and bunged their pies in the oven. What came out became an instant household favourite, across the United Kingdom, and then the rest of the world. Check out this recipe for shepherd’s pie.