Even those of us who like to make pie crusts don't always want to make pie crust. Some days I just want to make a nice bowl of filling, cook that up and eat it with the ice cream topping it was born to uphold. After all, when I make a pie at home, I usually end up giving my outer rim of crust to my husband because he loves it so much more than I do. Yep, I can live without crust.
Several years ago, I came across a couple of references to naked pies. Essentially they are the best parts of the filling held together with a very loose cookie dough type batter. They are quite different from the "miracle" pies that Bisquick made so popular in that the fruit is the star. No heaviness or denseness here, just sweetness and a little crackle around the edges.
Clafouti is pretty close but has a much more eggy batter, like a popover. The concept is the same though. More fruit, less crust. Of course, if you are a crust fiend you don't have to read any further, you can happily go back to cutting in your butter. We don't judge. But if you want to try something a little different, let's make a naked pie.
I've made both a naked apple pie and a naked cherry pie. The "batter" stays the same, only the fruit changes. Only use fresh apples or cherries, not canned or dried. That would really change the outcome of the pie. If the cherries have been frozen, be sure to drain them well and pat them dry before using.
Also, this apple pie differs from traditional apple pie in that there are no brown spices in it. No cinnamon, no allspice or clove. Just vanilla. The vanilla makes the pie just different enough so that it doesn't feel like the same old thing, but is also familiar enough to be part of your comfort food line-up.
So, toss on your favorite baking clothes and let's make Naked Apple-Vanilla Pie.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9" pie pan. In a large bowl combine:
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, light or dark
1/8 teaspoon salt
Whisk until the mixture is well combined and smooth.
Use a spatula to fold in:
3 medium apples, peeled and sliced 1/8" thick
3/4 cup chopped nuts, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fold until all of the apple slices are coated. There will still be a little batter left in the bottom of the bowl, that's okay.
Scrape/pour the filling into the prepared pan and pour any leftover batter over the apples.
Bake the pie for 30 to 35 minutes until a knife tip inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean. The toothpick test won't work here, you really need something a bit thicker.
When the pie is done, the edges will be deep brown, the apple tips will be well browned and the center will be well browned, not pale. Think giant chocolate chip cookie, darker at the edges, but browned all over.
Serve large, warm slices of pie drizzled with heavy cream or topped with ice cream. The apple and vanilla pair to make a sweet, but not too sweet filling while the nuts bring a little crunch to the party. You still get a bit of brown sugar cookie type crust around the edges, but this pie is truly heaven for those who love filling more than crust.
I didn't have time to test this recipe out as gluten free, but I think it could work quite easily. The apples provide most of the structure, so swapping out our Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour and perhaps 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum should work out just fine. If you do give it a try, please let us know how it goes.
So, go forth my fellow crust-less bakers and fill up on fruit filling. Dare to eat bare!
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