Water pies, also known as Depression pies, were consumed during the Great Depression. Starting in 1929, the Great Depression was a period of economic depression that lasted throughout the 1930s.
Because of this, many people experienced economic hardship. Though the world was impacted by this, the United States especially felt the impact of the Great Depression.
So what is water pie? It is a dessert that is made using minimal ingredients. During the Depression, most Americans could not access expensive ingredients. Thus, the water pie was invented. As the name suggests, the water pie’s main ingredient is water. The pie tastes sweet and creamy.
Nowadays, most people have enough money that they do not need to rely on water pies. However, some people are still making this dessert.
Because they can access more ingredients, there are lots of fun and modern variations of the water pie. It is an especially good treat when baking while on a budget. Here are our favorite reinterpretations of water pie.
If you desire a traditional and authentic water pie akin to those that would have been eaten during the Depression, you may want to give this simple recipe a shot. To make this recipe, you will need only 6 ingredients, all of which you should be able to obtain from your local supermarket.
These ingredients are water, flour, vanilla extract, sugar, butter, and pie crust. Just as these ingredients would have been obtainable during the Depression, you should be able to get them easily nowadays. The vanilla extract will help to give this recipe more flavor.
If you want to make a less traditional reimagining of the water pie, this recipe also contains suggestions for how you can spice it up. For example, they recommend using different extracts to enhance the flavor of the water pie.
The second recipe on our list uses cinnamon to instill a more exciting flavor to the Depression pie. In fact, it is akin to a custard tart that has been infused with cinnamon. If you are a fan of this spice, we recommend giving the recipe a go.
If you are not very experienced at baking, you do not need to worry. The recipe is quite simple and will not require too much baking skill or equipment.
Thirdly, if you want to make the water pie and are interested in learning more about it, this recipe from Southern Plate is an incredible resource. Like other methods, all it calls for is water, pie crust, sugar, flour, butter, and vanilla extract. If you follow this recipe, your outcome will be a delicious pie with a creamy and buttery flavor.
This recipe tells you how to make a traditional water pie while also giving you some tips for how to jazz it up and make it look more appetizing. This makes the pie more accessible for modern bakers since you can enjoy trying this Depression classic while also enjoying the taste and presentation.
In fact, this sensational recipe pairs the water pie with raspberry sauce. This sauce will complement the sweetness of the pie itself, creating a dessert that is still loved today. This version also recommends serving the pie with fresh fruit and cream to further enhance it.
Next, this water pie recipe uses both vanilla and cinnamon to enhance its flavor. Though these ingredients may have been difficult to come by during the 1920s and 30s, thankfully they are more widely available today.
If you want to make the pie more interesting, the recipe gives you some inspiration for different variations of this historical recipe. For instance, the author advises using pumpkin spices instead of cinnamon. This will be especially helpful if you are baking the pie around Halloween.
Another innovative idea comes in the form of adding cocoa powder to the pie, thus making it taste of chocolate. This will be particularly desirable to people who consider themselves to be chocolate lovers. If you are looking for a more loose and less authentic version of the water pie, we encourage you to try out these variations.
If you crave a rustic rendition of this Depression classic, here is another traditional water pie. Alongside the vanilla extract, this pie uses salt for extra flavor. This salt will help to balance out the sweetness of the sugar, creating a more even flavor. This pie will serve 8, allowing you to have enough slices for all of your friends or family members.
As you may have noticed by this point, vanilla and cinnamon are the most common flavors that are used to enrich water pies. While these flavors are great, you may be feeling a little bored of them.
Fortunately, this recipe from Carlos Cooking is here to provide a little variety. Alongside vanilla, it uses lemon and almond extract to instill the pie with mouth-watering flavors. Therefore, it will be better suited to bakers who want their food to be full of flavors, particularly quite natural tastes.
Cornstarch has also been utilized, giving the watery filling a thicker consistency which is more desirable than thinner pies. The author suggests using fruit, namely blueberries, to top the pie. This results in a pie that looks refined and more interesting than other water pie recipes out there.
Perhaps what sets this recipe apart from the competition are its excellent tips and tricks. For example, it posits using brown sugar instead of the standard white sugar which is seen in more traditional adaptations of the recipe.
Another great piece of advice it gives is to cut the butter into small pieces if you desire a buttery taste for your water pie. This unique advice shows a distinctive knowledge of the recipe. Therefore, you can try the authority of the recipe. This advice also allows you to customize the recipe, enabling you to cater it to your needs.
Additionally, nutritional advice has been included. This information allows you to see how healthy the dessert is, helping you to maintain a balanced diet.
As the title of this article alludes to, one of the main benefits of the water pie is that it is extremely cheap to make. Its affordable ingredients result in it being an accessible dish that most people can make.
Potentially, what makes this recipe unique is its personalized feel. The author explains their familial connection to the recipe, resulting in it feeling more personal than other methods. If you are not only interested in making the water pie but also want to discover more about it, this could be the right recipe for you.
The final recipe in this top ten list seems a little different from the other water pies. If you do not want to make a basic water pie, you can replace the water with Sprite. Though this is not technically a water pie, it is a modern reimagining of the Depression dessert. This soft drink will infuse the recipe with a lemon and lime taste, differentiating it from more standard water pies.
Another advantage of this method is that the instructions have been explained via a video. This means that you can see exactly how the pie is being made. This limits the chances of your messing up the technique.
Moreover, it will mean that you can have the video on in the background as you make the pie. This will mean that you will not need to consult the recipe on your phone or another device repeatedly, allowing you to focus more on the recipe itself.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Foods Were Eaten During the Great Depression?
Aside from water pie, there are a few other foods that were popular during this era. Given that resources were limited, the food from this period tends to be quite basic and bland. Here are some foods that were regularly consumed during the Great Depression:
- Wacky cake/ depression cake
- Navy bean soup
- Prune pudding
- Dandelion salad
- Hoover stew
- Potato pancakes
- Egg drop soup
These meals were either created during the Great Depression or popular during it. The reason why they were popular was that the ingredients could be obtained easily, meaning that people who were financially struggling needed to make meals from the food that they could afford.
What is the Point of Water in Pie Doughs?
Coldwater is often added to doughs. This water will help manage the temperature of the dough. In addition, water is included in order to keep any fat in the dough in solid form. Meanwhile, if you are using yeast in a dough, water may be used to trigger it. The yeast will require water to start working.
Why Was There no Food in the Great Depression?
As explained previously, the Great Depression was a time of considerable economic hardship. A lot of people did not have enough money to buy food. Because of this, the grocery store themselves did not receive enough money to constantly stock their shelves. Since workers could not be paid, crops began to rot on the fields.
This resulted in food being rationed. This meant that each person or family could only be given a limited amount of food. The food itself was quite restricted, meaning that you could not access a variety of different foods. This is why meals from this period were quite simple. During this period, canned foods rose in popularity.
Though this dessert may have been born out of the limitations of the time period, it can be made today as a tasty treat. Especially with a few modern twists, this dessert can become very delicious. We recommend giving the dessert a try. Even if it does not appeal to you, making water pie is a great way of better understanding the past.
If you are worried about the pie being bland, feel free to add some of the flavorings that have been suggested in the various recipes included in our list.