Friday, February 27, 2015

Ritz Cracker Mock Apple Pie

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!)

Pastry for a two-crust 9” pie
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?

Yes, it snows in Ireland, now and then, but nothing like in Massachusetts! If you're looking for an escape from what's left of the snow/ice/slush/gloom of your winter, wherever you are, try a quick trip to Ireland with An Early Wake.


  1. I enjoyed reading about the pie experiment, and cracker pie sounds like a good name. :)

    1. Jen, there are probably plenty of pies that can be loosely defined as "something sweet in a crust." Shoo fly pie comes to mind, and isn't there a chess pie of some sort? I think it all depends on how much you like sugar.

    2. As a child, I have heard (and sang) the Shoo Fly Pie song but I didn't realize it was an actually dessert! LOL I had to google the recipe.

  2. I have ALWAYS meant to try this recipe. May skip it now--thanks for the report!

  3. Another mystery solved. It doesn't really taste like an apple pie.
    You have saved us from having to prove it to ourselves. And such diligence, you did it twice! Most impressive.

    And, sure but your An Early Wake is a fine read! I felt I was there.
    You have the sound of the speech down perfectly!
    (Wish I could be with the wonderful characters and delightful music.)

  4. I'm so impressed that you made it twice! I was at a local store where they had shoved all the snow in one direction to create a towering wall at least eight feet high. I had to think of you! How fortunate that you didn't lose power and could continue to cook and bake!

    I would guess that during hard times when apples and other ingredients are rare, a lot of things become tasty. Thanks for trying this out for us!

    1. Being snowed in makes me want to bake. I got as far as the post office today--they had amazing 10" piles in the parking lot, that looked like the Alps.

      I wonder how many different ways we can all combine flour, butter and sugar and come up with something tasty?

  5. Thanks for trying the recipe, not once, but twice! I have always wondered about that one. I'll wait until I have apples to make an apple pie. And I want to read this book!

  6. This was fun, Sheila. Like being in an old movie or an episode of Foyle's War where they're making do.

    Ireland does sound very appealing. Looking forward to your newest book.



  7. My husband made this once. It was tasty.

  8. I made this years ago! From the ritz box recipe in my moms recipe collection!