Shoo-fly Pie

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

Crumb mixture:
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. Crisco vegetable shortening

Liquid mixture:
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.


9 responses to “Shoo-fly Pie

  1. Thanks, Karin!

  2. Hi there, I found your blog via the shoofly pie… I was doing shoofly pie testing for my own blog and used this recipe for it. Turns out I’m not a huge fan of the pie but I really enjoy your blog! My own Mennonite heritage goes back to Pennsylvania. Here’s my site… I think you might find it interesting. I added your blog to my resource page!
    Thanks for your recipe!

    • Glad it was helpful, Katie – and your project looks fun too! Shoofly pie is kind of an acquired taste – and you have to REALLY like molasses :) Looks like you actually tried two recipes from my family, since Mary Emma Showalter (author of the Mennonite Comm. Cookbook) was my great aunt! Also, just to clarify, I was reminded after the blog post that my family did actually come through PA to settle eventually in VA. But my mom’s recipe really wasn’t our own family recipe, just something she picked up along the way somewhere.

  3. I love that Mary Emma is your great aunt! Her cookbook is such a treasure. Your thoughts on the shoofly pie are helpful… I thought my Mennonite tastebuds were failing me. :)
    Looking forward to following what’s next on your blog and it’s lovely to have connected!

  4. Hi Karin, I interviewed a friend of mine for the blog this week who is also the great niece of Mary Emma! She wasn’t sure if you were related but thought you might enjoy that!

  5. I want to make shoofly pie and have been trying to figure out the best version to make. some Questions:
    1. do I use dark brown or light brown sugar?
    2. can I sub. butter for the Crisco, or is Crisco best to use? I am not partial to either, just some recipes say use butter & others Crisco.
    3. can I layer it with the dry layer 1st? or best to do wet/dry/wet/dry/wet/dry? are there 6 layers? or can I do dry/wet/dry/wet/dry? (hope that makes sense)

    • Sorry – I haven’t been on here awhile and didn’t see your questions! I usually use light brown sugar, the molasses adds a lot of dark flavor and I think the crumbs are finer with the light brown. I’ve always used Crisco, so I’m not sure how butter would work but I think it probably melts differently? Since the one we make is usually wet-bottom we always start with the wet, I think if you started with the dry it may not have the nice gel layer at the bottom that I love! I tried wet/dry/wet/dry (just in four layers) but it is more likely to bubble over that way, so that’s why I recommend six layers. Good luck!

  6. I’m going to try your version but adding egg into the wet part & just molasses. will see how it comes out! I will post pics…

  7. I also plan to bake on top of a baking sheet just in case of any spillage ;-)

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