History of Shoofly pie
According to celebrated food historian and cookbook writer William Woys Weaver, the shoofly pie began as a crustless molasses cake known as the centennial cake.
The cake marked the celebration marking of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the declaration of independence in Philadelphia in 1876.
It is said to have been baked during the cold winters when there was no fresh fruit. Traditionally the shoofly pie did not contain eggs because of the absence of eggs during winter.
Chicken laid fewer eggs during winter. Molasses was the primary ingredient because it could be stored in a cold environment without rotting.
The recipe began to evolve as home bakers especially the Amish and Mennonite added baking powder and eggs in the 1920s.
The name “Shoo Fly Pie”
The pie is named after a popular circus animal, a boxing mule! The animal was trained to stand on his hind legs and wore boxing gloves on his front hooves.
This mule was known as Shoo fly, named after a popular song “Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother me”. Products were named after that the mule such as the ShooFly Molasses'
Another legend has it that because the molasses contained sugars, flies would be attracted to it.
The pie makers would shout ‘shoo fly as they shooed the flies away lol.
The Amish Shoofly Pie
If you ever travel as a visitor through the Amish Country in PA, Lancaster you will not miss having a taste of the delicious Amish Shoofly pie.
The Amish are frugal people who like to use ingredients that are easy to come by in your pantry.
The Amish have made this recipe very famous. It is a traditional Amish dessert rich in molasses flavor.
The Amish arrived in PA, Lancaster in the 1800s, fleeing religious persecution in Europe. They settled in the central and South Eastern of Pennsylvania forming the largest communities in the United States.
Their conservative lifestyle has in the recent past attracted many visitors to Lancaster, PA Dutch country.
They have maintained their culture of staying in close-knit families, dressing modestly and plainly, and abstaining from modern conveniences such as vehicles and electricity.
They maintain a friendly culture but do not like appearing in pictures. However, you could visit some of their communities, buy some vintage and handcrafted items, enjoy a ride on a horse and dark-colored buggy, and best of all sample their delicious delicacies.
The Amish Shoofly pie is very famous among the Pennsylvania Dutch. There are two types of shoofly pies. (Source: Birds in hand)
Wet bottom shoofly pie
This pie has a wet gooey bottom as a result of the molasses mixture pour into the crust. In the recipe, you omit to add all-purpose flour into the pie filling.
If you enjoy the flavor and texture of molasses, this is yours to go pie.
It is more of a pie because of its gooey and wet filling making fit for dessert on a special occasion.
Dry bottom shoofly pie
The Dry bottom shoofly pie has the streusel sprinkled at the bottom of the pie.
In addition to this, flour is added to the molasses filling.
This pie has the perfect texture of a coffee cake. Most Amish dunk it in coffee for breakfast.
I am delighted to share a recipe I got from an Amish neighbor at a farm sale last year. You will be able to make the wet and dry bottom shoofly pies at once!
Ingredients And Substitutions
½ cup cold butter
Butter is mixed with flour enhancing the flakiness of the pastry dough.
½ cup cold shortening
Just like butter, the shortening creates the flakiness of the pastry dough.
3 cups all-purpose flour
Regular all-purpose flour works well, if you can access pastry flour, the more flaky your dough will be.
½ teaspoon Salt
Enhances the flavor of the pastry dough.
½ cup Ice cold water
Ice cold water moisturizes the dough as well as maintains a low temperature. This contributes to a flaky crust.
1 tablespoon vinegar
A little vinegar added to the pastry dough makes it very soft.
Molasses Pie filling
½ cup Molasses
This pie is essentially a molasses pie. Molasses is the primary ingredient in the filling. It gives the filling its dark rich color, flavor, and texture too. Molasses is the by-product of the manufacture of sugar.
When sugar factories crush the sugarcane and extract the juice, the liquid is boiled. As it boils, sugar crystals form. When the crystals are separated, the condensed liquid left is molasses.
You can use backstrap molasses with corn syrup instead of regular molasses. Backstrap molasses contains more minerals and nutrients, it is darker and tends to be bitter, therefore should be used sparingly.
1 ¼ cup All purpose flour
All-purpose flour gives the filling a caky interior. Making the dry bottom version of the pie perfect for coffee.
Regular all-purpose flour works perfectly in the recipe.
(Omit to add flour when making the wet bottom shoofly pie)
½ cup Brown sugar
Sweetens the filling and enhances the color and rich flavor. You could substitute it with granulated sugar.
Enriches the filling as well as makes it rise. The original version did not contain eggs showing it was a winter recipe.
The Amish used ingredients that they could find at that time to make delicious treats during the cold winter.
1 teaspoon baking soda
It’s the leavening agent in the filling contributing to the rise of the pie.
1 cup hot water
Adding boiling water thins out the flour and molasses mixture making our dry bottom shoofly pie more like chocolate cake in texture. Hot water gives the wet bottom shoofly pie a gel-like consistency.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
The flour mixture turns crunchy when baked. This crunchy topping introduces a unique flavor and a crunchy finish to the pies.
¾ teaspoon baking soda
Introduces air into the floury mixture making it light and crunchy.
¾ cup packed brown sugar
Mildly flavors and sweetens the crumbly topping.
6 tablespoons cold butter
Enriches flour and moisturizes the pie topping. It contributes to the crunchiness of the pie topping a texture you enjoy.
Cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)
Adds a tone of woody and warm flavor to the crumby topping.
How to make Homemade Pie Crust
You can use store-bought pie crust or preferably make your own. This recipe makes two 9-inch pie crusts. It is enough pastry dough for the wet and dry bottom shoofly pies.
- When using a food processor, pulse the flour with the cold butter and shortening until the mixture appears like sand. You can use a hand pastry blender or your fingers to mix the flour and the butter.
- Add a tablespoon at a time of ice-cold water and vinegar into the flour and butter mixture.
- Turn over the mixture on a clean surface and form a ball with your hands. Work fast to form a ball, and let the dough rest in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
- Divide the dough into two pieces, roll it into two round discs, line up the two pie plates, and set them in the refrigerator as you prepare the pie filling.
Blind baking the pie crust
Blind baking is baking an empty single-crust pie. It is vital to blind-bake the crusts to prevent sogginess.
- Preheat the oven to 345 F
- With a rolling pin, out the pie crust to about 12 inches wide at the center.
- Gently pick the rolled pie dough and line it on the pie dish. Make your desired patterns at the edge of the pie plate. Poke holes in the crust you intend to use while baking the making the dry bottom shoofly pie only.
- Brush the pie crust with melted butter and bake it for 15 minutes.
- Brush with egg and bake for 10 minutes.
How to make the pie filling for the Dry Bottom Shoofly pie
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl mix flour with the baking soda, add the brown sugar, and mix thoroughly.
- Add lightly beaten eggs and the molasses and mix with dry ingredients until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- To the mixture, add boiling water and mix well. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
How to make the pie filling for the Wet Bottom Shoofly pie
- Measure the ingredients, in a mixing bowl add molasses.
- Beat in one egg till thoroughly mixed.
- Mix hot water with baking soda in a separate bowl
- Pour the hot water and baking soda mixture into the molasses and egg.
- Mix well and set aside to cool to room temperature.
How to make Streusel/Crumb Topping
- In a medium mixing bowl, mix the flour and baking soda.
- Add in the cold butter and mix until crumbly in texture.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the flour and butter mixture.
- Set aside.
Assembling and baking the Dry Bottom Shoofly Pie
- Preheat your oven to 350 F
- Sprinkle the streusel on the bottom of the pie, and pour in the molasses filling.
- Cover the top of the pie with crumb topping
- Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.
- Let it cool on a wire rack before slicing it.
Enjoy delicious dry-bottom shoofly pie with a cup of coffee in the morning.
Assembling and baking the Wet Bottom Shoofly Pie
- Preheat your oven to 350 F.
- Into your blind baked pie crust, sprinkle a half cup of the crumb mixture.
- Pour the molasses filling into the pie crust.
- Cover the top with the crumb flour mixture.
- Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes then at 300 F for 30 minutes.
- Once ready, let it cool on a wire rack.
This is the most popular version of the shoofly pie in Pennsylvania Dutch. The gooey molasses filling makes it more of a pie than a cake as compared to the dry bottom shoofly pie.
You will enjoy this version with a scoop of ice cream or whipping cream. The ice cream and cream add a touch of lightness in flavor and texture.
If you plan to make homemade pie crust, make them a day ahead. This will save you time on the day you decide the pie.
FAQ Amish Shoofly Pie
How long does a Shoofly pie keep fresh?
Shoofly pie has pantry stable ingredients that can stay long. A shoofly pie can stay fresh on your kitchen counter for two days as long as you cover it. After two days, store it in an airtight container and refrigerate.
What is a shoofly pie made of?
Shoo fly pie is primarily made of molasses, brown sugar, all purpose flour for the dry bottom pie, a crumb topping and a flaky pie crust.