Category Archives: Pie

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.

Apple-Walnut Torte

Did I mention that Scandinavians have a wealth of buttery-rich baking traditions? I made this dish for a church potluck on Sunday – the original recipe was called Manor House Apple Torte (Herregardstarta), from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, by Beatrice Ojakangas.  I made a few tweaks, described below;

Apple-Walnut Torte
Crust:
2 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks butter
1 egg
2 Tbsp. cold water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a food processor. Then add the butter and process until crumbly. Add egg and water and process until the dough comes together into a ball. Remove dough from processor, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and grease a 10-inch springform pan. Split the dough into 2 portions and roll each out into a 12-inch circle. Gently transfer the bottom crust into the springform pan and bring the crust up about 1 inch all around. If it breaks and cracks, just pinch the edges back together again, this crust is pretty forgiving. Reserve the top crust while you assemble the filling.

Filling:
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into thin wedges
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (original called for hazelnuts/filberts)

Lay half the apples on the bottom crust, top with half the sugar, raisins and walnuts. Then repeat layers. Top with the upper crust and pinch edges of bottom and top crust together to seal.

Topping:
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. walnuts, chopped

Cream the butter and sugar until smooth and spreadable. Spread over the top crust of the pastry. Prick the crust with a fork all over the top. Sprinkle with nuts. Place the springform pan on a cookie sheet with a rim, to catch any drippings. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned.

Remove from oven to cool, leaving the pan on the cookie sheet. Depending on the moisture in the apples, the torte may continue to leak liquid while it is cooling. Serve plain or with ice cream.