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A dip into theYork County recipe box

Sheri Smith shared her family's recipe for lemon sponge pie - possibly not the one made at the Jay's restaurant, but one she receives many requests for.
Sheri Smith shared her family’s recipe for lemon sponge pie – possibly not the one made at the Jay’s restaurant, but one she receives many requests for.

Today I thought I’d do something a little bit different than we’ve done for the past few weeks. I want to round up some recipes for York County foods based on previous reader requests! Probably once a month or so, I receive a note asking for the recipe for some local treat, or for something made a local restaurant that’s no longer in business. Longtime readers know I’ve shared these in the past, and when I get a bunch, then it’s fun to share a big “recipe box” edition! I hope you’ll enjoy them.

Lemon Sponge Pie

For a couple years now, I’ve been collecting lemon sponge pie recipes in response to a request for the version that used to be made at Jay’s grocery stores.

I have shared a lot of those in the past, and today, a couple more notes on this pie!

Reader Tom Rost read the previous column about lemon sponge and wrote, “You don’t hear about this pie often and I didn’t remember getting them from Jay’s. My mom would bake pies every weekend for Sunday dinner and visitors. She often made lemon sponge. I like to make pies and think lemon sponge is one of the easiest. Most of the recipes are the same and when you fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites, you know it is going to be good. One tip I learned on making pies – always start with your oven hot (400 to 425 degrees) for about 5 minutes or the pie dough can shrink and then turn it down so the top doesn’t get too brown.” Tom, thanks for that great tip!

Another reader, Sue Duke, noted, “My family has eaten lemon sponge pies forever because my grandparents owned Kauffman’s Bakery in East Prospect. The closest to grandma’s lemon sponge pie, hands down, is Mary Jane’s Restaurant on Route 30 West! To die for!” I can attest that all of the food I’ve had at Mary Jane’s is great, so I’m sure the pie is no exception!

Finally for today, I have another recipe for lemon sponge pie from reader Vicki Baker. Her recipe:

2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs, separated
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons grated peel from 2 lemons (grated lemon zest)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice from 2 lemons
2 unbaked pie shells

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat the egg yolks, flour, salt, milk, grated zest, and lemon juice into the creamed mixture. In clean bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold the egg whites into the filling. Pour into 2 unbaked pie shells, and bake in 425-degree oven for 5 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 25 minutes longer or until top is golden. A silver knife in the center should come out clean. Remove from oven and cool on rack.

Thanks, Vicki, for sharing that!

Bear’s Sugar Cookies

This is a request I haven’t previously shared; Don Knaub is hunting for the recipe for sugar cookies from Bear’s Department Store in York. “The one using either buttermilk or sour cream,” he noted. “I use the sour cream most of the time… I have it, but somehow the print is rubbed off.”

I know any info would be appreciated!

Peanut Butter Frosting

A few times in the past, we’d talked about peanut butter frosting, especially the kind used at Knaub’s Bakery on their chocolate cakes, which reader Bev Weber requested almost two years ago.

My dear friend and recipe aficionado Barb Krebs found me a bunch, and while I will probably never bake enough to try them all, I wanted to share one peanut butter frosting winner today.

1/4 cup butter or margarine
3 oz. cream cheese
Peanut butter to taste (1/4 to 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound 10X sugar

Mix the above, then add milk by drops until the frosting is the right consistency. Beat all ingredients with electric mixer until blended and fluffy.

Apple Pan Dowdy

This came from a fun note from Mardella Fries Brenneman, the former owner of Cakes By Mardella, in response to a request for an apple pan dowdy recipe.

Mardella wrote, “When I went to Manchester High School from 1951-1955, I participated in an Apple Pan Dowdy contest in my school. The school winner went onto the county competition. I seem to remember coming in second the two years I competed. I think the newspaper covered this activity and there were pictures in the paper. I don’t have the recipe any more that we used. I practiced every evening after school. My family was very tired of this dessert. They probably threw the recipe away.”

But, she added, she found an apple pan dowdy recipe in an old cookbook that she has, “The American Family Cook Book” by Lily Wallace, published in 1955.

1 quart apples, sliced
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup cider

Butter a pudding dish. Put in sliced apples and spread sugar over the apples and sprinkle the spices over the sugar. Dot top with butter. Add cider and cover with homemade biscuit dough, 1/4 inch thick. Leave holes for the steam to escape. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) until apples are tender and crust is well browned. Serve with whipped cream. Serves 6.

Texas Hot Weiner Sauce

We’ve talked in the past about good recipes for making Texas hot weiners, and I have new one to share today from reader Dawn Hetrick. The following is a recipe for a sauce to put over your hot dogs.

1 quart boiling water
1 pound lean ground beef
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir frequently on simmer 1 to 2 hours until the consistency is right. May thicken with cornstarch and water base.

Montgomery Pie

Last up today is a good one from Roy Flinchbaugh. He noted that I’d previously mentioned about Montgomery pie in a column from February of this year, and wrote to tell me that you can get good homemade Montgomery pies at Whitecomb’s on Roosevelt Ave. He also shared his mother’s Montgomery pie recipe, which, I should note, makes TWO pies.

1 lemon (grate the rind) and juice
1 egg
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 pint cold water

Combine sugar, flour and egg. Add lemon (juice and rind), molasses and cold water. Mix and pour into pie shells.

1 egg
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour

Cream sugar, butter and egg. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately. Mix to make batter. Drop batter by spoonfuls into bottom mixture. Bake at 375 degrees until done.

Roy, thank you for this, and thank you everyone for all these great recipes! What recipes are you cooking lately, or what old-time recipes are you seeking? I’d love to know!

Have questions or memories to share? Email me at or write to Ask Joan, York Daily Record/Sunday News, 1891 Loucks Road, York PA 17408. We cannot accept any phone calls with questions or information.