Heavens to Mergatroid!

16 Jul

On our honeymoon in May (yes, 7 months after the wedding), the Filthy Fowl and I stashed some fruit and packaged crackers from our hotel to take on a day trip. We joked that my grandmother would be proud, because we were well-prepared with what she called “emergency rations.” My family traveled a lot with my grandparents when we were younger, and Grandma would dole out emergency rations to me, my sisters and my cousins when we got cranky.

When we returned from our honeymoon we got the sad news that we had lost Grandma. When we went home to be with my family, my mom made this pie, and I realized that besides “emergency rations,” this is the food I associate with Grandma. We all love it, and it’s even more special because the recipe came from her very good friend Florence.

Since I was little, I can remember my mom making this pie. My grandmother called it mergatroid. We weren’t really sure what to call it. Sometimes we called it mergatroid. Or mergatoid. Sometimes it was merbatroid. Or merbatoid. No one really knew, but there were no complaints. This dessert has a deliciously buttery crust, sort of custard-y filling, and sweet Italian plums (or sometimes blueberries) to top it off. Yum.

The Filthy Fowl immediately requested this recipe when we got back to New York. I asked my mom and she sent me a recipe for “merbitude.” I asked her to confirm the spelling, and she said she would ask Florence.

Florence responded that the pie is actually called Muerber Teig – not exactly what we were expecting! And I got the background straight from Florence, who says this about Muerber Teig:

The word “muerber” in German means soft, and “teig” means dough.  But it is understood to mean butter dough, and of course it can be made with margarine, but unless someone can’t eat butter for health or other reasons,  margarine would be sacriligous. It can be filled with blueberries or peaches, but the most divine muerber teigs are made with small Italian blue prunes, which are usually available in late August.

I  made the acquaintance of this pie when Ed and I were first married and he was teaching chemistry in Mohawk College in Utica. NY, which was a junior college set up for returning veterans to prepare them for a 4 year college.  Most of the instructors were young married people such as we, and we made lots of good friends several of whom remain good friends to this day.  One couple (he taught history) came from Wisconsin, and Betty had a treasure trove of recipes from her grandmother that used pounds of butter, dozens of eggs, lots of cream.   What did we know about cholesterol in those days?

I love this dessert, and I love it more knowing the story behind it. I also think it is the easiest dessert I’ve ever made. I hope you enjoy it as much as Florence, Grandma, my family, and now the Filthy Fowl!

Muerber Teig

family recipe courtesy of Florence Levy


For crust:
1 stick margarine
1 cup flour
1 tsp sugar
1 egg yolk

For filling:
Approx 1 pint blueberries (or fruit of your choice)
2 eggs
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. flour
Dash cinnamon
Few drops milk or cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend margarine, flour, sugar and egg yolk until it is the consistency of cornmeal. Pat into pie plate and layer with fruit.

Combine all filling ingredients. Pour on top of fruit.

Bake for one hour or until brown on top.



11 Responses to “Heavens to Mergatroid!”

  1. Amy (Sing for your supper) July 17, 2009 at 11:56 pm #

    What a sweet story! I love recipes like this that have been passed down and loved by everyone!

  2. Katie July 18, 2009 at 12:11 am #

    That looks so sweet and delicious!

  3. Lynn Somerstein July 19, 2009 at 3:49 am #

    I totally love this and will make it next week for dessert.

  4. Alexa July 19, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    This recipe looks delicious, thanks for posting it–My German grandmother makes something like it, and it’s such a nostalgic flavor. As for the butter vs. margarine thing, I know she uses butter, and I’m partial to butter as it’s more of a “real” ingredient. Looking forward to browsing your blog. Congrats on finding an apartment!

  5. Emma July 19, 2009 at 9:29 pm #

    Can you send me your email address? I love your recipes and want to know if you are interested in expanding where you blog.

  6. Jed July 20, 2009 at 11:46 pm #


    I saw the article about you and Dan in the paper. I used to swim with Dan at Wheaton and my wife and I live on the UWS. Would love to meet up at some point and catch up. Talk to you soon.

  7. abigail Simon July 21, 2009 at 6:46 am #

    This is MY FAVORITE!

  8. newyorkinparis July 24, 2009 at 5:57 pm #

    This was so easy to make and so incredibly delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  9. Lynn Somerstein July 25, 2009 at 7:20 am #

    I baked a murgatroid for the weekend, as I promised, and just had some. It is easy to make, relatively nutritious, and really DELICIOUS!

  10. Lynn Somerstein August 12, 2009 at 7:45 am #

    Murgatroid visited us again this weekend. We just can’t get enough. Thanks!

    • citygirlcooks August 15, 2009 at 3:24 am #

      So glad you like it!

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