Because resources were so scarce during the Great Depression, people found clever tricks to make a little seem like a lot. Some of those tricks bordered on magic, like in this Water Pie, where water is the main ingredient and yet somehow you end up with a pie that’s creamy and sweet and totally indulgent. It uses just a few pantry ingredients but still manages to feel like a special treat.
When you saw the name Water Pie, you might have thought that it was cooked in a water bath, or that water was somehow involved in the cooking method, but no, water really is the main ingredient. It gets poured into a pie crust…
… and then a mixture of flour, sugar, and salt gets sprinkled over the top. A little vanilla gets drizzled over that…
… but the final flourish is a few pats of butter, which gives the pie a straightforward sweet and buttery flavor.
Even though you don’t stir anything together, as it bakes the ingredients come together to form a filling that’s creamy and almost custardy in texture. When there wasn’t enough to go around, this pie surely made the hard days seem a little sweeter.
Depression Era Water Pie
Serves 8; 1 hour 15 minutes
- 1 deep dish 9-inch pie crust, unbaked
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 tablespoons butter, sliced
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Place pie crust on a baking sheet and pour the 1 1/2 cups water into the pie crust.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Sprinkle evenly over water in the pie crust, but do not stir.
- Drizzle vanilla over the pie, then evenly place pats of butter over the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F and continue baking for 30 more minutes. Cover crust with foil if browning too quickly.
- Pie will be watery but will set up as it cools. Allow to cool to room temperature, then place in fridge to chill before slicing. Enjoy!