Flapper Pie Is An Underrated Staple Of The Canadian Prairies

From Memphis barbecue to Sheboygan hard rolls, regional fare is a culinary sect unto itself. One regional pie that you've probably never heard of has even embraced a nickname referring to its obscurity: the forgotten prairie pie. Introducing flapper pie, the old-school, rich, custardy dessert with dimensionality. It's a custard pie in a graham cracker crust topped by a cap of meringue. Some bakers add a shot of whiskey to the custard filling, while others add peach leaves, lemon peel, or vanilla. The graham cracker crust can also be spiced with cinnamon for a little depth. The meringue gets lightly browned in the oven and, after removing a flapper pie from the heat, it'll need to set for hours before it can be served.

As you might guess, the "flapper" part of the name comes from the roaring '20s. Home bakers were invigorated by the energetic freedom, independence, and fashion embodied by the "modern woman." Flappers prioritized pleasure, and their iconic ideological lifestyle inspired the pie that would become a classic regional favorite. However, Victorian and Edwardian foodies were enjoying the custard and meringue pie long before that. Those early bakers were using a shortbread crust instead of a graham cracker one and were adding a thin layer of blackberry or red currant jam between the crust and custard for fruity flavor and a pop of color.

A simple yet timeless regional gem

In the 1920s, you couldn't stop into a cafe in any Canadian prairie town without spotting flapper pie on the menu. The treat was popular pre-Depression era, too, but when foodies suddenly had to get extra thrifty in the kitchen, flapper pie stuck around thanks to its minimal lineup of simple ingredients. So, why is it called a "forgotten" pie? Perhaps the "forgotten" part refers to the fact that the pie's popularity seems to be confined to a specific region in Canada and doesn't stretch especially far beyond that in the public eye. It was (and still is) a recipe passed between families and generations around Manitoba farms. Today, it belongs mostly to older generations, although it doesn't have to stay that way.

Have we piqued your appetite yet? For best results, flapper pie should be enjoyed the same day it's baked. Leftovers will keep in the fridge, but the lovely wet custard and meringue filling are prone to creating a soggy crust.