Are You Ready for Some Retro, Part III - Mock Apple Pie with Crumb Topping

Thin circles of carbs enrobing a filling of sweet spiced carbs.   Yum-o!  That's pretty much the description of the mock apple pie. But trust me ... it tastes oh so much better than that sounds.

For those who didn't grow up "enjoying" back-of-the-box recipes, you are probably wondering why anyone would create such a carb overload.  Two reasons:  apples were scarce in the off-season, and whoever invented cracker pie was probably stuck in the house during a blizzard in the dead of winter with hungry whiny kids and only a box of crackers in the cupboard.

Actually, I made up that last reason.  Just checking to see if you were paying attention.

Despite the fact that the original mock apple pie recipe first appeared on the back of the Ritz cracker box in the 30s, it didn't become the proverbial classic until the 60s.  When the crackers are seasoned with a gently spiced simple sugar solution, it looks and tastes exactly like apple pie.  Unless you add way too much lemon zest.  Then it tastes like lemon meringue pie, but without the meringue.

This was another dessert on my short-list for the retro dessert program I had planned at the local library.  I was planning to make the classic two-crust version, when I fell over this improved tart-style version.  The rich crumb topping, made with crackers instead of flour, gives this pie a very company-worthy elegant look.

Ritz brand is labeled dairy, so if you need a moo-less variety, check out the ingredients of the store brand.   And use margarine in place of the butter.

There's probably about a million carbs per serving give or take, so serve thin slices.  I haven't tried using the lower-fat variety, but it might just work well.

Mock Apple Pie with Crumb Topping
Adapted from: and
Yield: 8-10 Servings 

Note:  barely crack the crackers for the filling so that after baking they will resemble apple slices


2 cups sugar
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 3/4 cups water
2 Tbl. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 frozen pie crust, defrosted
36 Ritz Crackers, broken in halves or thirds (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon


25 Ritz Crackers, crushed (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted

Mix sugar and cream of tartar together in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in water. Bring to boil on high heat, stirring until the sugar completely dissolves.  Simmer on low 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in juice and zest.  Set sugar syrup aside, then begin to preheat oven to 425F (gives syrup a chance to cool down).

Arrange broken crackers evenly in defrosted pie crust. Pour cooled sugar syrup over crackers; dust with cinnamon.

Combine crushed crackers, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Stir in melted butter (or margarine); sprinkle evenly over filling.

Bake 15 min. Without opening oven door, reduce oven temperature to 350F.  Bake an additional 20 minutes or until topping turns golden brown. If crust edge starts browning before the topping is done, cover edges with aluminum foil.

Cool completely on wire rack before serving. 


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