Sunday, January 3, 2010

Historic Recipe: Mock Apple Pie

Greetings from Rational Living!

During this next year of living on WWII rations we will be trying various period-appropriate recipes both to connect with our 1940's counterparts and to make the most use of our available consumables. Recipes will come from a variety of sources including three fabulous books:

Additionally, I'll be pulling recipes from some of the 1942 - 1946 newspapers in the collection at the Kansas Historical Society.

Today's recipe is actually from an Internet source: the website for the National WWII Museum. The original recipe was provided by Janice M. of Germantown, IL and there are several similar recipes available on the Internet. The following is the recipe I as made by yours truly.

One note: this was my first attempt in my thirty-f(*cough*cough*) years at making a pie crust. It ain't pretty, but it worked out in the end.

Pie Crust Ingredients
2/3 cup shortening
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour, sifted
5 to 6 TB cold water

Sift flour with salt into large mixing bowl. Cut shortening into flour with pastry blender or, in my case, using the double knife method until particles are the size of small peas.

Sprinkle in cold water, partly mixing until flour is moist. Divide pastry into 2 balls.

Roll out each pastry ball onto floured surface until 1/8" thick.

Mock Apple Pie Ingredients

2 pie crusts
approximately 20 crackers (saltines or Ritz-style)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3 TB lemon juice
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Bring water, sugar, cinnamon, cream of tartar, lemon juice and nutmeg to a boil in a saucepan. Boil for 3 minutes and set aside to cool.

Place crackers into the unbaked pie shell. Pour the cooled mixture over the crackers and cover with the second pie crust.

Cover edges with foil and bake in preheated 425 degree oven until crust is light brown, approximately 40 minutes.

Let cool on wire rack until ready to serve.

And the results...?

Not the prettiest pie, but it's a pie nonetheless.

The taste is very similar to apple pie, but the texture is a bit off.

Either way, a pretty slice - the only thing missing is a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream.

And the judges give it two thumbs up!

--Rational Mama


  1. Any idea why they would have used crackers instead of apples?

    I'm thinking in my area (the Midwest) the apples would have been widely available during the autumn and winter - less so in the summer I suppose. I know many families canned up apples to use later on in the summer too, though.

    Do you know if they use grocery store crackers or did they make them homemade?

    Sorry for all the questions, but this recipe just has me wondering!

    Great job on the pie, btw!!!

  2. My grandmother used to make mock apple pie when they had crackers that went stale and didn't want to throw them away. She was very young through the depression and didn't ever want to throw ANYTHING away. :)

    They had an apple tree, but she just couldn't bare the thought of those crackers in the trash.

  3. I've had more than one person ask about apple availability, so it's a good question! As far as I can tell from the newspaper ads most of the storing apples were gone by Feb/March, so most folks would be apple-less from then until the early fall. Prior to the war canning and drying of fruit occured mostly in rural areas, so city-dwellers didn't have much of an option (and a lot of the commercial prepared fruit was headed oversees to "the boys"). And don't forget that when rationing was announced/began not everyone already had a nice stocked pantry to get them through that first year.

    As far as crackers go...luckily, commercially prepared crackers, breads and chips were available. In fact, FDR declared potato chip making of utmost importance and allowed the chip factories to operate 24 hrs a day! Yum!

    Thanks for the great questions/comments!

  4. Pie crust is tricky. I cant crimp the edges of a pie crust to save my life. It is a skill that eludes me.

    If you feel like getting modern and you have a food processor,it is a fast alternative to the two knives or pastry blender.

    Sometimes too, I will just use my hands and crumble until it is the consistency of cornmeal. That is how my grandma taught me.

  5. The thought did cross my mind to use the Cuisinart for the pie crust, but it seemed like the wrong thing to do for our experiment. For the bottom crust I actually did a bit of patting and spreading it in the pan. Hopefully each attempt will be a bit more successful!