Celebrating my own Mennonite heritage today, I will share with you my Mom’s famous shoo-fly pie recipe! Every year I make 2 of these pies for our talent show/auction fundraiser for the youth group at my church. That event was this past Saturday, where the pie was auctioned off for $120 (my cheesecake went for $205, generous people!). After many years of practice and teasing out the details of pie construction from my Mom, I think I’ve finally come close, though it will never be as good as her’s :) And you can get a much better deal on her shoo-fly pies at Shank’s Bakery for only $7.50!
Shoo-fly pie is considered to be a Pennsylvania Dutch treat (Dutch in this case meaning people of Deutsche, or German heritage). Another traditional treat from the same culture that is now popular throughout the country is Whoopie Pie. My family is not from Pennsylvania, but these two desserts are popular throughout many ethnic Mennonite & Amish communities, including the area of Virginia where I grew up. The main flavor of the pie is molasses, and my mom’s recipe is a “wet bottom” (as opposed to a “dry bottom”) shoo-fly pie. I don’t make this stuff up, folks! The end result is a flaky pie crust with three layers of texture: gelled molasses at the bottom, a molasses-flavored cake in the middle, and drier crumbs on top. It’s actually very much like a molasses coffee cake, and in fact we often eat the pie as a breakfast item.
Mom’s Shoo-fly Pie
1 bottom pie crust, uncooked
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. Crisco vegetable shortening
3/4 c. boiling water
3/4 c. molasses & corn syrup, mixed
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange the pie crust in a pie pan and crimp the edges. Mix together the flour and brown sugar well, crushing any large lumps of brown sugar. Cut in the shortening to make a dry crumb mixture.
Mix together the boiling water with the half-and-half mixture of molasses and corn syrup, stir until dissolved completely. Add baking soda and stir to dissolve (it will bubble and foam a bit). Start layering the wet and dry ingredients into the uncooked crust. Add 1/2 c. liquid, then sprinkle a generous handful of crumbs around the top. Add another 1/2 c. liquid, then more of the crumbs. Repeat one more time. Each time you should use approximately 1/3 of the crumb mixture.
Immediately bake the pie for about 45-50 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean and the pie is no longer “jiggly”), then remove to a cooling rack.
Tips: Towards the top, make sure that the entire edge is covered with crumbs or you will have a problem with the liquid bubbling over the side of the pie crust. Also, I tend to put a larger amount of the crumbs in the second addition, so that some of the liquid in the top ‘bleeds’ through or isn’t completely covered, in order to provide the mottled appearance shown in the picture above.