A very different kind of pie
Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here sooner than we expect or want. But this season always makes think me even more often about my parents, the special dishes my mom prepared for a holiday or not, and some of the history behind many of her recipes.
Long before my mom passed on, I began collecting her recipes, whether they were for day-to-day meals or for the holidays.
I have boxes of cake, supper, bread and treat recipes, more or less organized according to topic. I also created a small, black three-ring binder that contains pages and pages of mom’s recipes. I carefully typed each recipe using a manual typewriter during the 1960’s. The pages are splattered with dried milk, butter, flour, vanilla and many things I don’t have any idea about their origin.
That was my first cookbook, and although the loose-leaf pages are beginning to fall out whenever I use it, and the black binder is beginning to fall apart, it’s a treasure.
It contains recipes for such things as two-egg quick cake and tomato soup cake, hot dogs stuffed with mashed potato, tuna casserole, Welsh Rarebit, several coffee cakes, berry and apple puddings, mom’s version of French bread and Parker House rolls, basic dressing for turkey or chicken, bread and butter pickles, and pies such as lemon meringue, dumplings and batter for clams. These were all dishes she made throughout the week, with the expensive ones saved for very special days.
Leafing through the well-worn and much splattered pages reminds me of my youth and some of the wonderful and not so wonderful times my parents and siblings experienced. Such as the recession of 1960 and my dad working only part time while there were still six mouths to feed. Mom knew how to stretch a recipe, that’s for sure.
Among those with unique histories is one called McMahon’s Pie Cake. I have made it many times and have never found another recipe like it anywhere.
Mom said she got the recipe when she was a young woman growing up in New York City (and later, Bridgeport) from a Scottish lady known as Mrs. McMahon who lived up the block who often made it for her family.
The recipe is exactly like it sounds – a pie crust with a cake inside, a layer of jam or jelly between the pie crust and the cake batter, then the whole thing iced with butter frosting once it is baked.
Mom always spread the pie crust with apple jelly because she made many jars of the pink sweet from the apples growing on the Wealthy trees in the field behind our house. I have used apple jelly, as well as a variety of other jams or jellies, depending upon the kinds I make in any particular year.
Here is that recipe. I hope whomever tries it will think it is not only unique, but also delicious.
McMahon’s Pie Cake
Enough pie crusts for 2 regular, 8- or 9-inch pie plates, or 1 large deep dish pie plate
One-half to one 8-ounce jar jam or jelly
White cake recipe to follow
Buttercream icing recipe to follow
Use your own basic pie crust recipe or one of the ones available in your grocery store’s dairy case. Line one or two pie plates, or one deep dish pie plate, with the uncooked pastry, being sure to crimp the edges. Spread jam or jelly on the bottom of the pie crust.
For the white cake: Beat 1 egg, seven-eighths cup granulated sugar, one-half cup Crisco shortening, 1 teaspoon vanilla, one-half teaspoon salt, seven-eighths cup milk, and two-and-a-half teaspoons baking powder. Beat in 2 cups flour, then beat everything well.
Pour the batter into the pie plate(s) to within 1 inch of the top of the pie crust. Bake in a pre-heated 360 degree oven for about 50 minutes. Remove from oven when done and let cool completely on a wire rack. Frost with your favorite buttercream frosting, or use the following recipe.
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons softened butter or butter substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
enough milk beat in to produce the consistency desired
If the pie crust(s) aren’t large enough to accommodate all the cake batter, simply pour the remainder into a small, greased
cake tin and bake for about 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.
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