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Dutch Apple Pie vs. Apple Pie

This is a close look into Dutch Apple Pies and Regular Apple Pies showcasing their similarities and differences that make them both an apple treat on their own.

This is a serving of a sliced Dutch apple pie with coffee.

I love baking, and one of my favorite hobbies is experimenting with different recipes for sweet crust pies.  My family loves granny smith apples, so deciding which pie to bake, Dutch apple pie or just apple pie, was quite tricky!  Which pie would taste better using our favored apples, and what is the difference between these two pies?

Dutch apple pie is made with shortcrust pastry placed on the bottom of the pie, and the apple filling is covered with a sweet crumb or streusel topping.  Apple pie has a flakey, buttery, and sweet shortcrust on the bottom and the top of the apple filling.

We know the difference between Dutch apple pie and apple pie is in the topping, but how are these crusts made.  Where did these apple pies first originate, and which apples are best for making apple pie.  Are there other ingredients that enhance the flavor of these delicious pies?

What is the Difference Between Dutch Apple Pie and  Apple Pie?

This is a freshly-baked whole apple pie with cinnamon and nuts.

The difference is in the topping!

A typical Dutch apple pie is a shortcrust base with a filling of apples covered in a sweet crumb or streusel topping made from flour, butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.  Add oats and lemon zest or diced nuts to the mixture for more crunch!

The apple pie crust is a flaky, buttery shortcrust pastry made from flour, butter, castor sugar, and water.  The pastry is layered underneath and on top of the apple filling.  The top crust can be latticed, or you can make a few slits in the plain top crust to create space for steam to escape when the apple filling is cooking.

Where did Dutch Apple Pie and Apple Pie Originate?

This is a slice of Dutch apple pie with whipped cream on table.

Dutch Apple Pie

As far back as 1655, the Dutch made a pie with walnuts and apples.  But was this a Dutch apple pie? 

America used butter sparingly as dairy farming did not begin as an industry until the 1800s, so a topping of strudel with sugar and walnuts replaced the butter in the crust.

Crumb topping was used for Dutch apple pie in Pennsylvania, influenced by Germany’s cake-pie combination.  French Huguenots settlers in this area brought their flakier and crispy crusts similar to the pastries served today. 

The exact origin of the Dutch apple pie is not known for sure, but we do know that Dutch apple pie is apple pie combined with influences from Holland, Germany, and France.

Apple pie

England recorded the first recipe for apple pie in 1381.  Since then, apple pie has evolved with influences from the Netherlands and France.

During the 17th and 18th-century apple pie was brought to the colonies by the English, Dutch, and Swedes. The first two apple pie recipes appeared in America’s first published cookbook in 1796.

During the 18th and 19th century apples were abundant and affordable and became an American staple dish.  Only in the 20th century was the humble apple pie to become famous as a national symbol.

What Apples are Best for Apple Pie?

A bunch of pink lady apples for sale.

Use the same varieties of apples for baking Dutch apple pie and apple pie.  Apples that are firm and can hold their firmness once cooked are best when baking apple pie.  The flavor of the apples must not be too tart or too sweet.  Use two or more different varieties to reach the perfect balance.

The three popular varieties are:

  • Honey Crisp – these apples are sweet and relatively firm with little juice.
  • Granny Smith is found year-round and is known for its delicious tart flavor.  If a sweeter taste is preferred, mix them with another variety.
  • Pink Lady – these lovely pink-colored apples have a sweet-tart flavor, are crisp and firm, and are ideal for baking.

What Can You Serve with Apple Pie?

On its own, apple pie is delicious, but adding a little something extra to tantalize the taste buds even further, makes this pie scrumptious!  Dutch apple pie and apple pie are served with these favored accompaniments:

Ice-Cream

This is a slice of apple pie with ice cream.

Scooping a big spoonful of ice cream on top of a warm slice of apple pie is heaven to the mouth.  The traditional flavor is vanilla, but other alternate flavors such as strawberry or maple walnut are options for individual and more adventurous tastes.

Fresh Whipped Cream

This is a plate of sliced apple pie with whipped cream.

An elegant way to serve apple pie is with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.  The pie can be served warm or cold; either way, the cream is soft and light with just the right amount of sweetness.

Sharp Cheddar Cheese

A slice of apple pie served with a chunk of cheddar cheese.

Serving cheddar cheese with apple pie could be an acquired taste, but for many, the taste of the salty cheese blended with the buttery sweetness of apple pie is delicious.  Place a slice of cheddar cheese alongside or on top of the apple pie.  In Vermont, serving cheese with apple pie is considered a state dish.

How to Enhance the Flavor of Dutch Apple and Apple Pie

There are many more different ways to enhance the flavor and bring variety to these apple pies.

Dress Up Dutch Apple Pie

This is a whole Dutch apple pie in a glass pie pan.
  • Streusel Topping – combine ¾ c flour, ½ t cinnamon, brown sugar, oats, and lemon peel and cut in ½ c butter or margarine to form a crumbly mixture.  Sprinkle this on top of the cooked apple filling.
  • Add chopped walnuts, or raisins, or sultanas to the apples.
  • Brandy or Cognac added to the filling will bring out the depth of the apples.
  • Add 2 t of Dutch spice mix to the apples for a spiced up taste.  To make up the spice, mix 4ts ground cinnamon, 1t ground cloves, 1t grated nutmeg, ½ t ground ginger, ¼ t ground white pepper; ground cardamom; ground coriander, and ground aniseed.  Store this mixture in airtight glass jars.
  • Heavy cream – cut a large vent into the top of the crust before placing it in the oven.  Halfway through the baking stage, pour ½ c heavy cream into this vent and continue baking for added richness to the apple filling.

Spice Up Apple Pie

This is a whole apple pie with ingredients on the side.
  • Dried apricots – add ½ c dried apricots and 1t finely grated orange zest to the pie filling for a fruitier taste.
  • Rum – a ½ c rum, 1/3 c dried cranberries, and one chopped banana added to the filling will give the pie a boost of flavor.
  • Chopped nuts – add ½ c of walnuts or pecan nuts to the apple filling.  Nuts will intensify the flavor and add texture.
  • Oats – mix ¼ c quick-cooking oats, ¼ c chopped walnuts, and 2T sweetened shredded coconut and sprinkle on top of the filling.
  • Honey and rosemary – add 2t finely chopped fresh rosemary and ½ cup of honey to the apple filling.  The honey gives a sweet intensity to the pie so use less sugar.

Conclusion

The method of preparing the toppings of Dutch apple pie and apple makes these two pies differ.  Adding various ingredients makes the crusts taste different. 

Dutch apple pie originated from Holland but with combined influences from Germany and France.  Apple pie came originally from England and was introduced to America by European settlers.

The flavor and taste of Dutch apple pie and apple pie are enhanced by adding a range of ingredients and using the best varieties of apples.

Today the humble apple pie, either Dutch apple or traditional apple, is baked, served, and enjoyed by many who love the taste of apples baked in a sweet crust with a buttery or streusel topping!

References:

Times Union: True Origin of Dutch Apple Pie

Quora: How Does a Dutch Apple Pie Differ from a Regular Apple Pie

All Recipes: Dutch Apple Pie with Oatmeal Streusel