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Mock Apple Pie pretty good imitation

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Mystery-ingredient desserts such as Mock Apple Pie (made without apples) were popular in the 1930s and '40s. Other strange ingredients, such as sauerkraut, tomato soup and mayonnaise, popped up in chocolate cakes. These desserts often disappear for years only to turn up again. We know that because we have had requests for these recipes.


Today's recipe for Mock Apple Pie was requested by Mildred Rickel of Bridgeville. Jo Ann Smith of Lincoln Place was among 30 or so readers who sent us the recipe. Would Mock Apple Pie taste just like an apple pie? We couldn't wait to find out.

Crumbled Ritz crackers and a sugar syrup make up the filling for Mock Apple Pie. A few dots of butter and cinnamon give it an added boost of flavor. Mock Apple Pie has just about the same texture and taste as an apple pie -- but it doesn't replace the real thing. We found it was a little too sweet for our taste. But a scoop of good vanilla ice cream altered the sweetness and complemented this pie.

Our second recipe is Peach Kuchen. Kuchen, originally from Germany, is a fruit- or cheese-filled cake. Today's recipe, sent in by Cathleen Curro Begin of Squirrel Hill, is just one of the many versions of this cake. We tossed it together in about 15-20 minutes -- using canned peaches helped keep prep time at a minimum. The recipe calls for one 15-ounce can of sliced peaches, but we used two cans and cubed the peaches. We thought the cake was tasty but felt that it needed more flavor, such as cinnamon and a little sugar. But as good as canned peaches are, nothing can replace fresh. The next time we make this cake, we'll go for the fresh fruit.

Mock Apple Pie

  • Pastry for 2-crust 9-inch pie
  • 36 Ritz crackers, coarsely broken (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Butter or margarine
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Roll out bottom crust and fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Place cracker crumbs in prepared crust. Combine water, sugar and cream of tartar in saucepan, boil gently for 15 minutes. Add lemon juice and zest. Cool. Pour syrup over crackers, dot generously with butter or margarine (we used about 2 tablespoons of butter) and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover with top crust. Trim and flute edges together. Cut slits in top crust to let steam escape. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, until crust is crisp and golden.

Peach Kuchen

  • 1 egg beaten with a fork
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons margarine or butter ( 1/2 stick)
  • 15-ounce can sliced or cubed peaches, drained, or 20- ounce can any fruit pie filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Loosely mix with a fork all ingredients except peaches. Grease a 9-by-9-inch or 8-by-8-inch pan. Press 3/4 of the dough on bottom and sides of pan. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and pour peaches over dough. Sprinkle remaining dough over peaches. Bake an additional 30 minutes. Cool.

Note: Any 15-ounce canned fruit pie filling can replace the canned peaches. To substitute fresh peaches, you will need 1/2 to 1 pound. Over canned or fresh peaches, you may sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 tablespoon cinnamon.


A request from Lynn Adams of Austin, Texas: "When I was a girl, my stepmother made a dessert called vinegar dumplings. The dumplings were cooked in a liquid, and they did not have a crust. I do not know the ingredients. I just remember that it tasted wonderful."

Terri Ray, formerly of Mount Oliver, sent us this request: "I grew up in the Pittsburgh area and had a recipe for Black Forest Cake from one of the Pittsburgh newspapers around the mid- to late '80s. I lent it to a friend. Unfortunately, I didn't make a copy, and she lost it. The one ingredient that is different from the other recipes that I've looked at is graham cracker crumbs. Other ingredients that I remember are whipped topping and canned cherry pie filling. I can't remember if it had almonds or almond extract and evaporated milk or condensed milk. I have searched the Internet high and low for it and haven't come across it."

A request from K. Weber of Whitehall: "I am looking for the recipe for the house dressing with Gorgonzola cheese from Pasta Piatto in Shadyside."

Write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail toaburnett@post-gazette.com . Include name, neighborhood/city/borough/township, state and a daytime phone number on all correspondence.

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