12.28.2004

Mocking Mock Apple Pie

I had been aware of the rumors for about a year. One could make an apple pie without apples. Using Ritz Crackers. And supposedly, it was indistinguishable from the real thing.

Not likely, I knew, yet stories abounded of people fooled by this concoction. I barely gave a cursory glance at the recipe. I knew it had to be eaten to be believed.

The history of the Mock Apple Pie is practical: housewives of the pioneer era substituted crackers when apples were unavailable, and when Ritz crackers were invented while depression era shortages followed by rationing made apples expensive, the recipe was revived.

I enlisted the help of my father-in-law, pie-maker extrordinaire, because I have no patience for crusts and would fall to pieces at the prospect of top and bottoms crusts for two pies. I made the fillings. Overall, the pie making was fairly quick. We made the Ritz then the apple while the Ritz cooked. Then there was the waiting for the pies to cool. Very important to the structure of the Ritz pie, which depends on a sugar syrup stabilized with cream of tartar, less important to the apple pie. We adjusted the seasonings of the apple pie to try to reflect the flavors of the Ritz pie - much more lemon, more sugar, less cinnamon.

And the results?

Of course we could tell the difference between the two. The Ritz pie is overly sweet and too lemony. The apple pie has texture. And the flavor of apples. But surprisingly, amazingly, the Ritz pie really does come closer than I ever imagined. It could easily be substituted for say, a McDonald's apple pie (this is really just conjecture as I have never eaten a McDonald's apple pie, but I have seen the pictures of one) or a store-bought frozen one. There is no texture to speak of, outside of the perfect crust, more like a thick, sturdy mush that is not wholly unpleasant. And the color is spot on.

We realized that the results were definitely influenced by the control, despite blind taste tests. Now we are busy luring innocents into trying the Ritz pie, telling them it is apple, and waiting for their reaction before divulging the truth.

The recipes:

Pie Crust (two crust pie)

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup ice cold water

Cut together the shortening and flour and salt using two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture is coarse, with various sizes of crumbs and bits. Add the water slowly, mixing lightly with a fork just until the mixture comes together in a ball. You may not need all the water. Divide the dough into two balls, roll out until a bit larger than the pie pan. When baking, brush the top crust and edges lightly with milk for a nice browned color.

Apple Pie
(to compare with Mock Apple, not the best recipe on its own because of the amount of sugar and lemon)

pie crust dough
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tbl flour
juice of 1/2 lemon
grated peel of 1 lemon
6 large, firm apples
2 tbl butter

Mix together in a large bowl the sugar, salt, cinnamon, flour, lemon and lemon peel. Wash, core, peel, and chop the apples. Add them to the bowl, tossing thoroughly to coat. Pour into a prepared pie dish, dot with butter, and cover with top crust. Crimp the edges and bake: 425 for ten minutes, then 350 for an additional 30 minutes, or until the pie is nice and brown.

Ritz Mock Apple Pie

pie crust dough
36 Ritz crackers
2 cups sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 3/4 cup water
grated peel of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbl butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, cream of tartar, and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in lemon and lemon peel and allow to cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, line a pie plate with rolled out dough. Crush the Ritz cracker coarsely into the plate. Pour syrup over crackers. Dot with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover with top crust, crimp and cut slits. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes or until crust is nice and brown. Cool.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

As I remember, the mock apple pie doesn't really taste or have the texture of a real apple pie, but it is really a tasty dessert, especially with ice cream on it.

Anonymous said...

mock apple pie does not taste like apple pie at all. It tastes like a lovely lemony dessert though. It's quite good, but there's no fooling me, it's NOT apple pie.