by Sheila Connolly
Guess what: there are no apples in this pie!
My grandmother did not cook. Which is odd when you think that she worked in the food industry (for Lipton Tea) for almost twenty years, and she knew a number of New York chefs personally. But the kitchen (a liberal use of the term) in the apartment in the residence hotel where she lived for several decades had been a closet originally (in fact, her clothes closet was bigger), and had a tiny sink, a minuscule refrigerator, and two electric burners. She also had a toaster oven—and room service.
But one of the most vehement arguments we ever had was over this recipe, the one that used to appear on the Ritz Cracker box (alas, no longer), about whether it actually tastes like apples. I was skeptical, but she was adamant.
The recipe apparently emerged during the Depression, but became really popular during the Second World War, both eras when fresh produce was hard to get, and crackers were cheap. And I realized that despite that argument, I had never actually made this recipe. So this is a weird tribute to my late grandmother.
Ritz Mock Apple Pie (No apples needed!)
36 Ritz crackers (I love the way you have to count them!)
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 Tblsp lemon juice
Grated rind of one lemon
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Fit one crust of pastry into your pie pan. Break the crackers coarsely onto the crust.
Combine the water, sugar and cream of tartar in a saucepan, and boil gently for 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and rind. Let cool.
Pour the syrup over the crackers in the pan, dot generously with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Cover with the top crust and crimp the edges together. Slit the top crust to let steam escape.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is golden. Serve warm.
The Verdict: Well…too sweet and too soupy. Too much lemon rind, but that might have been my fault. The texture was convincing if you normally make your pie with mushy apples rather than ones that hold their shape. I can tell you that it did not taste like Ritz Crackers. But not a lot like apples either.
So since I had nothing more important to do than watch snow fall, I made it again. Same crust, but I changed everything else, just a little. Less water, less sugar. Forget the lemon rind. More butter and cinnamon. And a few more crackers.
Did it help? Well, maybe. It was firmer, and not so cloyingly sweet. But it still didn’t taste like apples! Think of it as a cracker pie and you might like it.
|Looks like apple pie, doesn't it?|
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