Easy as (apple) pie

Whoever came up with the phrase “as easy as pie” obviously never tried to make one. And, in fact, a quick Internet search for the source of the simile reveals that its original meaning may well have had nothing to do with pie (or not with the making of this estimable pastry, at any rate).

One theory holds that the saying comes from the translation of an Aramaic pun that actually refers to an early precursor of pizza (and, in my cookbook, pizza is to pie what high-school chemistry is to rocket science).

Another hypothesis surmises that the phrase originated in Australia around 1920. Apparently, the Australian expression to be “pie at” or “pie on” something (from the Maori word “pai,” signifying “good”) means to be very good at it.

But my favorite theory proposes the notion that it’s actually a bastardized version of the original “as easy as eating pie.” Now that’s easy.

Making pie, on the other hand, is no mean feat. That’s why folks are so impressed when you show up at a potluck or family gathering with a homemade pie in hand. And when you walk in carrying the store-bought variety, muttering, “Sorry, but I don’t really know how to cook,” you can expect a much cooler reception (trust me on this one).

Still and all, late summer is apple season (witness the North Carolina Apple Festival, which just took place in Hendersonville County — the seventh-largest apple-producing county in the country, according to the Farm Service Agency). And what better way to honor this versatile fruit (and ratchet up your social standing) than by whipping up an apple pie to take to your next social outing?

But what swingin’ single gal has time to arduously roll out pie dough, I ask? (Admittedly, I haven’t swung for about a decade now — but I am culinarily challenged and shamefully unmotivated when it comes to cooking.)

So my mission was this: to find the easiest apple-pie recipe out there. And my criteria were equally simple. It had to require relatively few ingredients (though I did draw the line at any recipe that involved the use of Ritz crackers); utilize fresh, local apples; and take little time to prepare. (And of course, it had to taste good.)

After much journalistic research — consisting mainly of many rounds of googling and interrogating likely bakers around the office — I hit on several recipes that sounded promising. Unfortunately, during the testing phase, I learned a hard truth: If something sounds too easy, well, it probably is.

The third recipe I tried, which calls for only six ingredients, proved to be the charm. Here it is:

Easiest Apple Pie

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