9 Not-So-All-American Sweet Pies From Around the World
Despite the term “sweet as pie,” pies are one of the most versatile dishes in the world; they can be sweet, savory, or both. But there is something special about sweet pies. They are so pretty to look at, and they work as decadent desserts or afternoon snacks. Most of all, sweet pies are almost always made for sharing. Tell your sweet tooth to watch out: here are nine delicious pies from around the world.
Many pies from other countries are savory. But Americans aren’t the only ones who like their pies on the sweet side — though one of the most popular sweet pies in the world, buko (young coconut) pie, was invented when a baker wanted to recreate American apple pie but couldn’t find enough apples in her native Philippines.
Before we continue, we should ask ourselves: What constitutes a pie? Some people think of pies as any food that is circular in shape, like a pizza pie, while others believe pies must involve baked pastry dough that tops, holds, or contains a filling. For this list, we chose the latter definition, which encompasses tarts. Next time you bake a classic all-American pie, consider changing things up by letting one of these pies from abroad influence you. If you want bring an out-of-the-box pie to a party, consider the rijstevlaai — a Dutch pie with a rice pudding filling. Make it an arroz con leche filling for a truly global treat.
It is hard to believe that something as delicious and decadent as pie crust began as a practicality. Historically, people used it to protect meat and other foods from being scorched in the hot oven. They needed a solution to keep the filling in place and stop it from getting burned. And that’s why we have pie crust in all its forms: flaky, graham cracker, shortcrust, phyllo, and so many more.
Treat yourself to an afternoon snack by visually devouring these delicious pies from around the world.
Bakewell Tart (United Kingdom)
This English tart consists of shortcrust pastry with a layer of jam and almonds fashioned into a sponge-like consistency (frangipani). A variation of the pie called “cherry bakewell” is similar, except the frangipane is covered with fondant and a candied cherry. You can try making a traditional one, or shake things up with raspberry and burnt cream.
Buko Pie (the Philippines)
Buko pie is similar to coconut cream pie, but it uses fresh young coconut and swaps cream and meringue for condensed milk. It is said to have been invented in the province of Laguna by a woman named Soledad Pahud, who returned to the Philippines after working as a maid in the United States. She wanted to make apple pie, but due to the lack of readily available apples, she improvised and used young coconuts instead. Pahud still sells buko pies at the Original Buko Pie Bakeshop in Laguna. Advanced blast freezing technology has let the pie, previously very difficult to get outside the Philippines, be available for sale in ethnic grocery stores around the world, which has increased the pies popularity amongst Filipino immigrants and open-minded eaters as well.
This post was originally published on May 7, 2015.