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Grandma's Apple Pie Recipe

Jill is an avid writer, gardener, photographer, DIYer, and cook.

This (almost) topless apple pie combines chopped tart apples, thick sour cream, and dark brown sugar for a rich desert you'll make again and again. It's one of Mamaw's best!

This apple pie recipe was one of my grandmother's best. Hope you enjoy it!

This apple pie recipe was one of my grandmother's best. Hope you enjoy it!

Mamaw Bess's (Almost) Topless Apple Pie Recipe

If you don't like making pie crust, this (almost) topless apple pie is the right recipe for you as it only requires only one crust instead of two. Mamaw Bess made her own fine dough out of shortening, flour, and ice water. A less-talented pie maker than she, I use a no-fail vinegar crust.

For the apples, be sure to select a crisp variety that will keep its shape during cooking. Because they're both crisp and tart, we choose Granny Smith apples for this recipe. Scroll down to see a list of other alternatives.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

45 min

1 hour 15 min

One 9-inch pie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups tart apples, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 9-inch pie shell, unbaked
With a dollop of whipped cream & a strong cup of coffee, it'll satisfy your sweet tooth.

With a dollop of whipped cream & a strong cup of coffee, it'll satisfy your sweet tooth.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. As the oven heats, combine the first 7 ingredients.
  2. Pour the mixture into 9-inch pie shell.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the last 3 ingredients.
  5. Remove the pie from the oven and sprinkle it with brown sugar mixture.
  6. Bake an additional 15 minutes at 375°F.
  7. Let cool before serving.

Show Mamaw Bess some love.

Granny Smith apples are firm & tart, perfect for this sweet & creamy apple pie recipe.

Granny Smith apples are firm & tart, perfect for this sweet & creamy apple pie recipe.

Good, Crisp Apples for Baking

Apple TypeFlavor

Braeburn

sweet-tart

Cortland

slightly tart

Crispin/Mutsu

sweet

Empire

sweet-tart

Gala

sweet

Golden Delicious

sweet

Granny Smith

tart

Greening

tart

Haralson

tart

Honeycrisp

sweet

Jonagold

sweet-tart

Northern Spy

slightly tart

Prairie Spy

slight sweet

Roma

tart

Rome

slightly tart

York Imperial

slightly tart

Pie Maker, Traveler, Catbird

When Mamaw Bess was in her seventies, she and her friends started taking trips together. They had a "peck of fun," as she would say, riding donkeys in the Grand Canyon, shopping Canada's largest indoor mall ("the largest mall in world!" according to Mamaw Bess's best friend Bea) and tapping their toes to musicals at Branson.

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One autumn, they even took a road trip from the east coast to the west, stopping at every roadside attraction and tourist trap along the way.

But their most unlikely trip—at least to me—was when they visited New Orleans. At Mardi Gras time no less.

My mind boggles when I try to imagine them, three stout "widow ladies," as they liked to call themselves, stalwart members of the Baptist church, the women's club and the mission society, blithely walking down Bourbon Street in their polyester shorts and white ladies' tennis shoes.

On the other hand, little that Mamaw Bess and her friends did ever surprised me. I'd grown up hearing time and time again (always from people with smiles on their faces) that my grandmother was a jaybird, a catbird, a crackerjack, a pistol or some other Appalachian term for a person with curiosity and spirit.

It wasn't too much of a surprise then when Mamaw Bess came back from her trip with a hand full of beads and a face full of mischief. Apparently, she had done her best to hit every bar on Bourbon Street.

"You shoulda seen 'em!" she said as we sat in her kitchen over cups of coffee. "Twirlin' around, dancin' on tabletops—carryin' on something awful!"

She beamed across the table at me, clearly delighted to have witnessed so much wickedness.

"And most of 'em didn't have a stitch on. Nary a stitch!" She leaned forward, eyes sparkling, and pointed a sausage-like finger at me. "Some of 'em was wearing nothin' but paint." Banging her cup on the tabletop, she grinned at me and nodded. "Believe it or not!"

Mammaw Bess in high school

Mammaw Bess in high school

To commemorate Mama Bess's trip to New Orleans, we made this apple pie recipe, which she got from her friend Myrtle and renamed (Almost) Topless Apple Pie.

Although it doesn't have a top crust made of pastry dough like so many apple pies, it does have some beads and paint to cover its nakedness—a brown sugar mixture that's sprinkled over the filling. That's right—Mamaw Bess's Apple Pie is only almost, not completely, topless. Why? Because apple pies just taste better with a little something on them. Believe it or not!

Enjoy!

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