Grandma's Apple Pie Recipe

Updated on January 25, 2013

One of Mamaw's Best

(Almost) Topless Apple Pie combines chopped tart apples, thick sour cream & 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! | Source


If you don't like making pie crust, (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 & ice water. A less talented pie maker than my grandmother, 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 chose Granny Smith apples for this recipe.

Show Mamaw Bess some love.

5 stars from 1 rating of (Almost) Topless Apple Pie

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour 15 min
Yields: One 9-inch pie

It'll Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth.

Have a piece with a dollop of whipped cream & a strong cup of coffee. It'll satisfy your sweet tooth.
Have a piece with a dollop of whipped cream & a strong cup of coffee. It'll satisfy your sweet tooth.


  • 2 C. tart apples, chopped
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1/3 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 C. sour cream
  • 1/3 C. flour
  • 1/3 C. dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 C. butter, melted
  • 1 9-inch pie shell, unbaked


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

Good, Crisp Apples for Baking

Apple Type
slightly tart
Golden Delicious
Granny Smith
Northern Spy
slightly tart
Prairie Spy
slight sweet
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.

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 | Source

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!


Copyright © 2012 by The Dirt Farmer. All rights reserved.

Questions & Answers


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      • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

        Jill Spencer 

        6 years ago from United States

        Hi 2patricias! Thanks for reading and sharing. Appreciate it! --Jill

      • 2patricias profile image


        6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

        This is an interesting spin on traditional apple pie. Nice backstory too.

        I am including this in my Recipe Index for HubPages - and sharing.

      • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

        Jill Spencer 

        7 years ago from United States

        Hi dwachira. Oh yes, we all loved Bess. She was a lot of fun and was filled with the spirit of generosity. Thanks for stopping by! (: Jill

      • dwachira profile image

        Danson Wachira 

        7 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

        I would like to try this Apple Pie recipe, it looks delicious. You must have loved Mamaw so much to commemorate her trip. Voted up and interesting.

      • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

        Jill Spencer 

        7 years ago from United States

        @ Farmer Rachel -- Thanks for the votes!

        @ Old Roses -- Glad you like the recipe. She really was a character! And we all miss her very much. Thanks for commenting.

      • OldRoses profile image

        Caren White 

        7 years ago

        Sounds delicious! Mamaw sounds like a real character. Thanks for sharing her story and her recipe.

      • Farmer Rachel profile image

        Rachel Koski 

        7 years ago from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota

        This looks great, thanks for sharing! Voted up and awesome :)

      • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

        Jill Spencer 

        7 years ago from United States

        Hey Billie. I spent a lot of time in Florida growing up & have a funny story about Mamaw Bess getting into a bit of an altercation with a roadside fruit seller because she insisted on "sampling" the freestone peaches. My dad, to cool things down, ended up buying a bushel of them. Hope you have a good weekend too. The Rome apples should do just fine. Take care! --Jill

      • profile image


        7 years ago from south florida

        Ok its Friday! (more ways than one) printing recipe. Love the chart but... love rome. Live in south fla. so take what I get. Happy weekend


      • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

        Jill Spencer 

        7 years ago from United States

        @ Maren Morgan M-T -- It is a good pie! Had to make two this week. The first one was gone before I got a chance to take a picture of it!

      • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

        Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

        7 years ago from Pennsylvania


      • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

        Jill Spencer 

        7 years ago from United States

        Hey, billie-bob! Mama was a lot of fun--lived on her own & was active up to the end at 98. Thanks for commenting, and I hope you love the pie.

      • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

        Jill Spencer 

        7 years ago from United States

        @ Specialk3749 -- You're welcome! And good luck with the contest. It sounds like fun. --The Dirt Farmer

      • profile image


        7 years ago from south florida

        I can't wait. First to be paid tomorrow, buy ink for printer, print and make this pie!. I would love to have been with your Mamaw, sounds so fun. Thanks for sharing with us stay at homes. LOL

      • Specialk3749 profile image

        Karen Metz 

        7 years ago from Michigan

        Thank you for the recipe! Right now, I am trying out different kinds of fruit pies to decide what kind I want to enter into our annual fair contest. I'll let you know if I choose this recipe! Thanks again...

      • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

        Jill Spencer 

        7 years ago from United States

        Hi Sinea Pies! I felt like I had to include the apple chart. It's so important to know which apples stand up to cooking; otherwise, you end up with mush. Hope your family likes the pie! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.

      • Sinea Pies profile image

        Sinea Pies 

        7 years ago from Northeastern United States

        So grateful that you included the apple chart! I am not much of an apple-eater, therefore I don't know tart from sweet when it comes to varieties. This list is so helpful and Mamaw's recipe sounds delectable! My family will LOVE it! Spreading the news with a like and a tweet and a pin!


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