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American Pie: Recipe for a Quick Fix

Not apple pie
Apple pie is an enduring symbol of America. Why? Well, there are more reasons than we can go into right now--but if you're curious, we highly recommend Apple Pie: An American Story by John T. Edge.

But what happens when apples are scarce or prohibitively expensive, as during the rations of World War II?

You do another all-American thing: find a quick fix! During those war years, that fix was making a mock "apple" pie filled with a slurry of (inexpensive) Ritz crackers, sugar syrup and lemon rind. Ready to throw up in your mouth a little? Well, hold it in, because while not as good as "real" apple pie, it's strangely passable if you close your eyes and think really hard about apples while chewing.

And when we made this pie recently, we decided to go a little further on the mock concept. In celebration of what seems to be a New England-centered (or does it perhaps root from the Midwest?) preference for eating pie with a wedge of sharp cheddar, we made our mock pie using cheese-sandwich Ritz crackers. Here's a shot of it in progress (before adding the sugar syrup and top crust):

Pie filling
So how did this concoction taste?
Well. It smelled amazing while baking and once out of the oven.  The crust was tantalizing. Taste-wise, however, this regional specialty didn't really translate to the chemical counterpart. The cheese remained somewhat gravelly in texture and didn't really ooze throughout the way we'd hoped; instead, it remained in grainy, salty, cheesy deposits which acted more like landmines than sweet surprises on the palate.

I'm not apple!
Of course, perhaps the most insulting part of this story is that living in Washington state, we're currently experiencing a bounty of delicious (real) apples--and next time we'll try to remember the saying of another great american icon Marvin Gaye, "Ain't nothing like the real thing, baby". Because friends don't let friends eat fake pie.


Ritz Mock Apple Pie (from backofthebox.com)

The classic pie, featuring Ritz crackers baked in a golden crust,
is perfect for the holidays.

Pastry for two-crust 9-inch pie
36 RITZ Crackers, coarsely broken (about 1 3/4 cups crumbs) --we used the mini cheese-filled sandwich crackers
1 3/4 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Grated peel of one lemon
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Roll out half the pastry and line a 9-inch pie plate. Place
cracker crumbs in prepared crust; set aside.

2. Heat water, sugar and cream of tartar to a boil in saucepan
over high heat; simmer for 15 minutes. Add lemon juice and peel;

3. Pour syrup over cracker crumbs. Dot with margarine or butter;
sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll out remaining pastry; place over pie.
Trim, seal and flute edges. Slit top crust to allow steam to escape.

4. Bake at 425 F for 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is crisp
and golden. Cool completely.

Makes 10 servings

Preparation Time: 45 mins.
Cook Time: 30 mins.
Cooling Time: 3 hrs.
Total Time: 4 hrs. 15 mins.






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Reader Comments (32)

I must admit Jesse, this recipe has never been one of my very best favorites but, If my mind serves me correctly, I think it was once against the law in Wisconsin not to serve apple pie with cheese...

Apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.

FYI: http://cometoakettledrum.blogspot.com/2008/09/october-food-celebrations.html" REL="nofollow">October is National Apple Month!

September 28 | Unregistered Commenter~~louise~~

This is hilarious. I love the talking apple on the crust.

September 28 | Unregistered Commenternoisy penguin

Wow, that top photo sure LOOKS like apple pie! I did try this once years ago, and must admit I wasn't crazy about it. . . but your concept does sound intriguing, as I have never (gasp!) had apple pie with cheese, either. :)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterRicki

I must admit as I read and laughed, I kept thinking: "but wait a minute it's apple season here in Washington!" That was too funny and really interesting...

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAlexa


Well, good for you to experiment, and I of course always love to READ about your experiments...It didn't surprise me that this didn't turn out stellarly. Great post, though!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterWandering Coyote

I like grated cheddar in the crust. It serves the same purpose but adds lots of yummy color. :)

September 28 | Unregistered Commenterchou

Just wanted to delurk and say that your blog is one of my absolute favorites: delicious, informative, and adorable all at the same time.

I am personally extremely partial to a good Ritz cracker so I may try this out. Especially with cheddar cheese. Nom.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterFaine

Never been that convinced about the cheese and apple pie school of thought - but, never having tried it I can't say it isn't delicious!
The Ritz crackers sound an odd addition....but interesting!

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterThe Caked Crusader

Hmmm, I've heard of this and have always been a little skeptical, but the picture looks tempting, who knows, maybe I'll give it a try.

Cheese cracker or not they looks so delicious.

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterHappy cook

Hahahahah! Love it. Totally hilarious. Funny too - b/c I just made an apple pie this weekend. :)

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

What an interesting story!!!! I bet it smells super when baking! During the wars, people sharpen their imagination :D

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterNúria

Great story! I love your sense of adventure.

The apples are starting to look super nice at the produce market. Here's wishing you a real homemade apple pie and soon.

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Though you've educated me on the origin of this strange Ritz pie, I think I've actually heard of it before. Fun to see your experiment!

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterRecipeGirl

your crust cut-outs are extremely impressive! and it's good to know that my doubts about the mock apple pie are justified. :)

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

I remember these postwar as a child.I seem to remember a version that used both app;e and Ritz crackers. They must have been hooked on the crackers.

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I think part of the problem, yes only part, may be that the 'cheese' in those crackers really does deserve to have quotations around it as it's dairy properties are suspect....

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterEB

Whenever I need a chuckle, I know I'll find one here! I love the little captions with your pictures. How do you do that?

i always heard that ritz pie was identical in flavour to apple pie...i'm glad you busted that myth! hooray!

September 29 | Unregistered Commenterkickpleat

this is too funny, especially the apple cut out on the pie! but heaven forbid that there will be no apples for applie pie!

September 29 | Unregistered Commenterveron

Very interesting. I can't really even see how it would taste like apple pie. I'm glad you tried it out, though, so I don't have to!

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

OMG - I've always had a bizzare fascination with this mock recipe, but never tried it. You've given me the motivation to give it try!

oooh the ritz crackers remind me of an old treat we used to have as kids that my grandma would make for us, cut half a large marshmallow in half and stick it into a ritz cracker. toast in toaster oven until melted and crispy. it's seriously good!!! salty, sweet, crunchy... is it the chinese canadian's s'mores???

September 29 | Unregistered Commenterlyndsay

My Mom was just telling me her friend made this and it was delicious. Noone could figure out what it was made of!

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterReeni

Joanne Fluke has a really good recipe of this in one of her newer Hannah Swensen books. I just can't remember which one.

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterLadytink_534
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