What's a Pie Without Crust?

Pumpkin pie sort of makes sense without a crust, but what about apple or blueberry pie?. (Photo: Tatiana Vorona/Shutterstock)

It's fall, a time when a food lover's fancy turns to pie. Just imagining the smell of an apple pie baking in the oven can make an autumn day even better, can't it? Picture that pie in the oven. What do you see? I bet you see a flakey crust that's getting lightly browned on top, don't you?

Stop right there. You may not know it, but there's a crustless pie trend happening. You may go to a relative's house this holiday season and be served a slice of apple pie without the crust. As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed.

I don't recommend you walk into your relative's home with a baked pie crust. But do arrive armed with knowledge so when a piece of crustless pie is placed in front you, you can just dig in without looking confused or ungrateful. After all it may not be what you expect, but it's still dessert — and dessert is good.

Pie or not pie?

cherry clafoutis
The crustless fruit pie trend creates something that's more akin to this cherry clafoutis than a traditional pie. (Photo: Anastasia_Panait/Shutterstock)

The lack of crust might not make much of a difference for a pumpkin or a pecan pie, but when it comes to the classic fruit pies — apple, blueberry, cherry, peach — no crust just seems wrong to me. Think about it. How is a crustless apple pie any different from sautéed apples? Here's how.

The popular crustless pie recipes like this Crustless Blueberry Pie don't forgo many of the ingredients in a classic pie crust, they just use them differently. Instead of making a crust with flour they mix flour with eggs and butter and pour the mixture over the fruit and sugar. For those looking for the miracle of a gluten-free pie sans crust, this isn't that miracle (unless you substitute gluten-free flour for white flour).

The end result is something more in line with a clafoutis than a pie. The fruit ends up embedded in a cake-like base. The main difference I see between crustless pies and a clafoutis is that a clafoutis adds some milk to the mix to make the inside a bit more custard-like.

If given the choice, I'd choose a traditional fruit pie with crust over one of these crustless pies, but I can see where a crustless pie makes sense. If you don't have any pre-made crusts, and you don't want to take the time to make crust (or you aren't confident in your crust-making abilities), you can whip up a crustless pie quickly.