Shoofly Pie is part of my Amish and Mennonite roots. Today I'm honored to share an easy and delicious slice of my heritage with you.
You can make this old-fashioned shoofly pie in under an hour and today I'm going to show you how to do it, step-by-step. You're going to love this Amish dessert recipe!
This recipe for shoofly pie first came about as a molasses cake that was a popular breakfast item among the Pennsylvania Dutch, sometime after the civil war. There were no eggs used in the original recipe and so historians think it was first made in the wintertime when the chickens were not laying eggs. Back then there was no crust involved either.
A crust was eventually added to the recipe to make it easier to eat, and the above piece of heaven is now known as Shoofly pie. In the Pennsylvania Dutch language, this is known as Melassich Riwwelboi or Melassichriwwelkuche. This was also once known as Granger Pie but you'll call it simply delicious.
This is the food I was raised on. My mom would make these homemade pie recipes almost every single day, back on the farm.
I know that if my DNA was analyzed, strands of Fasnacht, Crusty Bread, and similar Amish recipes would all be found. Along with crumbs from this old-fashioned dessert.
What's in this?
Molasses - This is the main ingredient in shoofly pie. The age-old question is light or dark? Hard-core molasses fans might even opt for the blackstrap molasses. Many bakers use a combination of light and dark varieties.
- Light molasses is the sweetest form and is often used in molasses cookies.
- Dark molasses is made after a second boiling. It is richer and not as sweet as the light variety. You'll use this kind of molasses for making the best gingerbread.
- Blackstrap molasses is the darkest, most bitter, and highest in nutrients. I don't recommend using blackstrap in this molasses pie.
No Amish baker worth their salt would use a store-bought crust. The good news, if you are reading this then chances are very high that you are not Amish. Therefore, you are off the hook!
Take the easy way and pick up a pie shell from the grocery store. It will be our little secret!
If you want to know how to make a pie crust from scratch, we are more than happy to show you how it's done!
Variations: dry-bottom vs. wet-bottom
Dry-bottom shoofly pie comes from mixing the crumbs in the batter, before baking.
This gives the dessert a more cake-like consistency, making it easier to eat without a crust back in the old days when it was eaten for breakfast with a mug of strong black coffee.
Wet-bottom shoofly pie is what we are showing you how to make today, and the crumbs are sprinkled on top of the filling, giving each slice a more custard-like consistency.
How to make it
Start by making your own crust, or picking one up from the grocery store. Then, it's time to get down to the business of making a homemade Amish recipe!
Start with the Crumb Topping
- In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the flour and brown sugar. Pro Baking Tip: Use dark brown sugar for a deeper and more caramel-like flavor to this Amish recipe.
- Mix in the cinnamon and nutmeg and a pinch of salt.
- Use a pastry cutter or table fork and cut in some cold butter.
- The crumb topping should have a cornmeal consistency when it is finished.
Make the Filling
To make the filling for shoofly pie, you'll combine molasses, water, and baking soda and pour it into the pastry shell. I find that a deep dish pie shell works best for this recipe. You can see how we do this in steps 1 and 2 below,.
Then, add the crumb topping to the top of the unbaked dessert.
When adding the crumb topping to this Amish recipe, you can leave it on top for more custardy wet-bottom shoofly pie, or mix it in a bit and end up with a more cake-like, dry-bottom version.
You'll bake this for 15 minutes at 450° F and then lower the oven temperature to 350° and then continue baking for another 20 minutes.
The sticky and sweet nature of molasses was known to be a magnet of flies. Can you blame them? "Shooing" them away eventually let to the modern name of this Amish recipe.
No, you can safely leave out for five days. Be sure and cover it with a towel though. Otherwise, you may be saying, "Shoo fly!"
This has a taste of molasses combined with sweet crumb, making it excellent as a dessert or breakfast treat.
Pennsylvania, which is where Lancaster county is located, is the state where this is best known.
My top 3 tips for making shoofly pie
Tip 1: Use a deep dish pie shell when baking it.
This is for a couple of reasons:
- Ample space for the filling: This shoofly pie has a generous molasses filling that tends to rise and bubble during baking. A deep-dish pie plate provides enough room for the filling to expand without overflowing, ensuring that the pie maintains its shape and doesn't create a mess in the oven.
- Even heat distribution: A deep-dish pie plate allows for more even heat distribution during baking. The depth of the plate helps to distribute the heat more evenly throughout the pie, resulting in a uniformly baked crust and filling
Tip 2: Use high-quality molasses.
Using high-quality molasses is crucial for a delicious shoofly pie because it is the key ingredient that gives the pie its distinct flavor. Look for unsulfured molasses made from the first boiling of the sugarcane juice to ensure a rich, robust taste.
Tip 3: Let the pie cool completely before serving.
Allowing the shoofly pie to cool completely after baking is essential to get the desired consistency and prevent the filling from being too runny.
This cooling period allows the molasses to set, resulting in a firm and sliceable pie that can be enjoyed with ease. Naturally, for obvious reasons, this is the hardest tip to follow!
The shoofly pie song
Finally, I leave you with a little bit of fun to enjoy with this homemade dessert.
The shoo fly pie song was made popular by Dinah Shore, take a listen and for goodness sakes, try making this old-fashioned dessert!
Many of these recipes come from The Mennonite Community Cookbook
This post is lovingly dedicated to my beautiful mom, Sarah Jantzi Zehr. She was raised in the Amish-Mennonite faith and made hundreds if not thousands of pies throughout her life. I'm not sure if she ever used a recipe.
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The BEST Shoo-Fly Pie
- 1 pie crust rolled flat and placed in a 9-inch pie plate.
- 1.5 cups flour
- 1.5 cup brown sugar dark
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 pinch salt
- ¼ cup butter cold and unsalted
- ¾ cup molasses
- ¾ cup water boiling
- ½ tsp baking soda
- Preheat oven to 450° F. Prepare pie crust from scratch or use a store-bought one.
Make the Crumb Topping
- Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and mix well. Use a fork or pastry cutter work in the butter, until you have a pebbly consistency.
Make the Filling
- Add the molasses and water along with baking soda, all into a mixing bowl and combine well. Pour the mixture into a prepared pie shell. Evenly sprinkle the crumb topping on top.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350° and bake for 20 more minutes. The shoo-fly pie is done when it is set and firm.
- Testing Doneness: While baking, keep an eye on your pie. The filling should puff up a bit and the crust should turn golden brown. To check if the pie is done, insert a knife into the filling – if it comes out relatively clean, the pie is ready.
- Patience is Key: One of the main reasons pies don't set is because they haven't been allowed enough time to cool and set up. For best results, let your pie cool completely at room temperature. It can be tough to wait, but this step is crucial for a well-set pie.
- Storing the Pie: Store your shoofly pie properly to maintain its taste and texture. If you plan on eating it within two days, cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature. If you need to store it for a longer period, cover it well and refrigerate it. The pie should last up to one week in the fridge.
- Serving: Serve the pie at room temperature, as this allows the flavors to come through best. Shoofly pie is often enjoyed with a cup of coffee or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an extra treat.
This has been updated from the original post of April 24, 2019.
My mom used to make this
Her step mom was Pennsylvania Dutch
The bottom was chewy cake like but the top was powdery and dry
I’ve never been able to get this division right
I enjoyed it when she made it in the 1950s through 1970s
It’s truly. Southern “delish”!!
Thanks for sharing great memories!
Made this for the first time today and couldn't be happier with it. Was kinda nervous after reading some of the other comments about the filling bubbling out during the early stage of the pie baking, but I used a deep-dish store-bought crust and didn't encounter any issues, other than having to fight the urge to eat the whole pie in one sitting. The streusel topping is all good and well, but the beauty lies in that molasses filling that takes on an almost cake-like texture and goes quite well with the streusel. I really felt like I was eating two different desserts at once! If you like molasses cookies or gingerbread, that sorta thing, this is right up your alley.