Or without a bottom crust, anyway. Or possibly a crumble. It depends on which crustless iteration you’re using as your origin point.
Think of it as an apple pot pie: naked bottom with some kind of a covering on top.
The earliest mention of “crustless apple pie” I’ve seen is from World War I-era newspapers, where it shows up in stories about what families back home are preparing for when soldiers return from war. But recipes don’t start showing up until the 1930s.
Compare this version from the June 8, 1930 edition of The Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner:
Remember the address when you send your recipes: Aunt Helen, Room 940, 440 S. Dearborn St., Chicago, Ill.
Crustless Apple Pie
By Mona-Su Craig
Peel apples and slice thin. Place layers of apples, with cinnamon, in deep dish until nearly full. Melt butter and stir in brown sugar. Add flour, stirring thoroughly. Spread dough over apples and bake for one hour in slow oven. Serve with whipped cream or hard sauce while warm.
A bit of context is helpful: “The Kitchenette” was a feature for children–directed at girls, really–that ran on the kids’ page of newspapers across the country, along with comic strips, word jumbles, and puzzles. It was frequently paired with “El Comancho’s Campfire Stories,” a feature thought to be gendered for boys.
Mona-Sue (fairly sure that was her name, actually) had her recipe paired with information about how to use a canoe. (Did you know that weight won’t upset a canoe as long as it’s below the water line? Thanks, El Comancho!)
Anyhow, that’s why Aunt Helen prefaced the recipe with pie being “rather ambitious for a young cook.” I believe this is Mona-Sue Craig, who is 10 years old in 1930, the daughter of an experimental farmer in Florida:
What does an experimental farmer do in Florida in the 1930s, you ask? Why, grow experimental seeds, of course. The 1930s were the golden age for irradiated, deformed, hybridized, and otherwise mutated fruit, a practice we talked about in the post for mixed greens and fruit salad from Sun City, Arizona.
From a box sold in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Crustless Apple Pie
4 large apples cut in thin wedges (4 cups)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon or nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tbsp. margarine
pinch of salt
Toss together [first] 3 ingredients and put in 2 quart baking dish. Mix remaining ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle over apples and bake in 400 deg. oven 30 minutes. Serve with ice cream.