October 6, 2014

Bake An Apple Pie in a Coffin...and Discover How Isaac Newton Sinned

It’s October! Harvest time is here, and we are looking forward to celebrating Halloween as well. In the England of Isaac Newton, apple pie was a much-loved treat just like today. 

Issac Newton wrote up all his sins in a secret code.
Newton liked apples. This we know because when he was nineteen, Newton wrote up a list of sins in a notebook. To keep them secret, he wrote them in code. One  said simply "Eating an apple at Thy house."

In other words, Isaac Newton ate at least one apple in church.  

This old recipe dates back to 1545.

To make pyes of grene apples

        Take your apples and pare them cleane and core them as ye wyll a Quince, then make youre coffyn after this maner, take a lyttle fayre water and half a dyche [dish] of butter sand a little Saffron, and sette all this upon a chafyngdyshe [chafing dish] tyll it be hoate then temper your flower with this sayd licuor [liquid], and the whyte of two egges and also make your coffyn and ceason your apples with Sinemone [cinnamon],Gynger and Suger ynoughe. Then putte them into your coffin and laye halfe a dyshe of butter above them and so close your coffin, and so bake them. 

Yes, you read that right:..the cook in the kitchen made up the pie filling and put it in a….coffin.

Long before Newton was born in 1642, “pyes” always appeared in coffins. These pastry containers were sealed and baked so long they were tough to the point of tooth-breaking.  Folks didn’t eat the coffin; they simply enjoyed the filling inside So much for a tender, flaky pie crust!

However, by the time Isaac Newton was a boy, people were eating pie coffin and all. This poem by William King shows that apple pie was a favorite treat during Newton’s lifetime:
        Of all the delicates which Britons try
        To please the palate of delight the eye,
        Of all the sev'ral kings of sumptuous far,

        There is none that can with applepie compare

You can bake a modern version of this old favorite using “grene” Granny Smith apples. To save time, make the “coffin” using a prepared pie crust that you buy from the grocery store dairy case.


Apple Pie Baked in a Coffin
Items you need:

6 large Granny Smith apples
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons butter
Two ready-made pie crusts
Small sharp knife
Potato peeler
1 9-inch pie pan or square pan
Foil strips

An adult to help you with cutting the apples and using the oven

Preheat the oven at 425° F. Pare the peelings off the apples and cut them into pieces.  Cut away the cores and throw them out.   Then cut the apples into slices about ¼ inch thick and place them in a large bowl.  Sprinkle the apples with the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and ginger.  Use a large spoon to “toss” them so that the apples are coated with everything else. Set aside.

Following the directions on the package, remove the pie crusts.  Lay one crust in the bottom of the pan so that it follows the pan’s shape.  If your pan is square, you might need to fit the crust a bit; if you tear the crust, simply patch it together with your fingers. There should be some extra crust hanging over the edge of the pan.

Layer the apple mixture into the pan so that the apples are close together. Then take the pieces of butter and lay them all over the top of the apples. Place the second crust on top of the apples.  Then use your fingers to pinch the edges together all around your pie.

Use a small knife to cut short slits in the crust.  That way, steam from the pie can escape as it bakes. Put foil strips around the edge of your pie so the crust does not bake too quickly.

This hand pie is mince, but you can make tiny apple pyes the same way!
Have an adult help you place your pie in the middle of your oven.  Watch it carefully to make sure it does not burn. After 30 minutes, remove the foil strips from the crust.

It will take 40 – 50 minutes for your pie to bake.  The crust should be golden brown, and juice will bubble out of the slits.  Set it on a rack to cool.  Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment