The Accidental Scientist: Science of Cooking
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recipe: Mock Apple Pie

When flavors come together, they often meld and blend into something that may be surprisingly different from the original ingredients. Many of the artificial flavors in packaged foods are really combinations of ingredients with unrelated smells and tastes. Cola flavor, for example, can be made by combining many ingredients, none of which are the kola nut that originally gave the drink its flavor.

During World War II, apples were in short supply and therefore very expensive. But apple pie remained the quintessential American dessert. Tasting like the real thing but costing a lot less, Mock Apple Pie became a popular substitute. Try it for yourself and see!

Recipe Conversions

Kids, please don’t try this at home without the help of an adult.

What Do I Need? .
  pastry dough for a 2-crust, 9-inch pie Explore
How can artificial flavors taste like the real thing? Because we taste and smell specific molecules, not specific foods. Food scientists have figured out how to sythesize the odor and taste molecules of many common foods. With the right molecules in a cake batter, for instance, you'll taste strawberries even if there aren't any. Learn more about how we taste and smell things .
  36 Ritz crackers, or other buttery snack crackers, coarsely crumbled (about 1 3/4 cup)
  1 3/4 cup water
  2 cups sugar
  2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  2 tablespoons lemon juice
  zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
  1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a rolling pin
 a 9-inch pie tin
•  an oven
What Do I Do?


1. Roll out half the pastry and line a 9-inch pie tin. Put the cracker crumbs in the prepared crust and set it aside.

Did You Know?
Sweet and salty tastes can mask sour or bitter ones. That's why processed foods often contain more salt or sugar than you would think by tasting them.


2. Heat the water, sugar, and cream of tartar to a boil over high heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the lemon juice and zest. Let cool.


3. Pour the cooled syrup over the cracker crumbs. Dot it with margarine or butter. Roll out the remaining pastry dough, arrange it over the pie as a lattice, or as one piece with slits to allow steam to escape.


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

What Else Can I Try? .

• You can try your hand at mixing a cola in your kitchen. Try a mixture of sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, lime juice, and club soda. Vary the amounts and see if you can create something that tastes like your favorite cola.

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