The Floral Ingredient To Add To Your Next Apple Pie

Even foodies without a sweet tooth (you know who you are) would be hard-pressed to name a more well-liked treat than apple pie. It's arguably the only dessert to rival mac and cheese for the title of "Ultimate Comfort Food," and it has a fixed position on the holiday dinner tables of America.

A nationwide survey by Crisco and the American Pie Council found that the most popular pie amongst U.S. foodies was apple pie; about one out of every five Americans named it as their favorite. That survey was conducted in 2008, but nothing has changed. 

According to a recent Tasting Table Exclusive Survey, our readers named apple as their most beloved pie. Clearly, the dessert isn't going anywhere. Fans have been enjoying it stateside since at least the 1800s, and over the past few centuries, they've been experimenting with ways to keep the longstanding treat interesting.

The armada of added ingredients over time has illuminated how surprisingly versatile apple pie can be. A melty slice of cheese makes the pie savory. A sprinkle of dried rosemary stirred into the filling gives it an herbaceous taste. Miso paste adds a kick of umami. But today, we're talking about the unexpected ingredient you should add to your next apple pie for a floral facelift — and to keep that familiar favorite from getting predictable.

Put on your rose-colored glasses

To take your next apple pie to a garden-party-worthy level, add a splash of rose water. Why does the combo work? The aromatic floral flavor makes an unexpected complementary pairing with the nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger spiciness of apple pie filling. In fact, according to the Smithsonian Gardens, apples actually belong to the rose family (a fun nature fact that Robert Frost wrote a poem about in 1927).

Luckily for home cooks, you can make rose water at home with nothing more than the titular ingredients: roses and water. Just be sure to use food-safe organic roses. Add more or fewer petals depending on how strong you want the flavor to be.

Rose apple pie is perfect for picnics, Mother's Day, tea parties, and girls' nights in. Intrepid bakers: Try shaping the top crust like delicately layered rose petals. You could even carve a rose shape into an apple and place it beside the pie for a show-stopping presentation. Pair the dessert with a hot cardamom-rose tea to bring out its herbal flavor. Or serve it as an elevated cocktail hour treat alongside a white Negroni or a rose martini.