A “dry” version of this traditionally Pennsylvania Dutch treat, Shoofly Pie is not too sweet, not too firm, and has just the right amount of molasses flavor in every slice!
It started as a favor
Let me begin by saying I take requests. If a family member or friend asks me to make something special for them, I’m happy to oblige. And when the item is something I’ve never tried (or even heard of, for that matter), all the better…I get my horizons expanded while making someone happy. Case in point…my son-in-law’s friend mentioned that he hadn’t had Shoofly Pie in some time, so my older daughter piped up and said I could make one for him. I’d never had Shoofly Pie before, and, it being pie (one of my favorite desserts), I was eager to try one. On to the internet I went!
How Granny made it
The Pennsylvania Dutch developed Shoofly Pie in the 1880s as a hand-held breakfast to be served alongside black coffee. It’s a molasses-based pie that’s tempered with brown sugar and finished with a crumb topping. Those facts aren’t in dispute. However, in looking over several recipes (and the comments within), I found that people had very strong opinions on how this pie should be made, and everyone’s grandmother made the best one. Although to be honest, even though my grandmother never made Shoofly pie, I’m sure if she did, hers would top all others (just sayin’).
Take a side
The main point of contention is whether Shoofly Pie should have a “dry-bottom” or a “wet-bottom” (feel free insert appropriate baby-bottom joke here). For the dry bottom version, the pie is baked until the filling is mostly set so it has a more cake-like consistency. The wet bottom version has a cake-like texture near the top where its mixed with the crumb topping, but has a gooier consistency nearer the bottom…think Butterscotch pie or Pecan pie without the pecans. The main difference in achieving the two types seemed to be the amount of flour and brown sugar used and the length of time the pie was baked. In the end, I settled on Land O Lakes’ Favorite Shoofly Pie…it seemed to be right in the middle of all the variations.
More to argue about discuss
There was also a lot of discussion about whether butter, lard, or shortening should be used in the pie (as well as the crust). Well, shortening is processed (something I avoid, as long-time readers know), and I don’t eat lard, so I went with butter. You can choose for yourself. I also went with my tried-and true pie crust recipe…yes, I play favorites. (so long as you’re open about it)
One for him and one for us
Since I was making Shoofly Pie for my son-in-law’s friend, I made a second mini version for my family. I just halved the filling recipe and shortened the baking time to about 20 minutes. How else was I going to try some?
A new tradition is born
Having never had Shoofly Pie before, I wasn’t sure how it would (or even should) taste. My mini version was probably more on the “wet-bottom” side (the larger one was more dry, I was told), but it was luscious. I loved the hearty molasses flavor and the crumbly topping…this pie was not too sweet, not too firm, and totally delicious.
Shoofly Pie is a great addition to the usual assortment of pies at a Thanksgiving dinner…I’m planning on making one (why not?). Who knows, maybe someday my grandkids will come and ask me to make them my “famous” Shoofly Pie, and they’ll brag to their friends how it’s the best. After all, I take requests!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
- single pie crust, for a 9-inch pie pan
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 cup molasses (9 oz, 255g), mild or dark corn syrup
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (4-1/4 oz 120g)
- 2/3 cup brown sugar (5 oz, 140g), dark, firmly packed
- 2 Tbsp butter (1 oz, 30g), unsalted, cold
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Combine the boiling water and baking soda in a small bowl. Stir in the molasses, then set aside.
- Combine the flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl (crush any brown sugar “rocks” if you have them). Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1/2 cup (2.4 oz, 67g) crumbs for topping.
- Pour the molasses mixture, egg, and vanilla to remaining crumb mixture. Whisk well.
- Pour the batter into the prepared crust; sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture.
- Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and bake another 35-40 minutes or until filling is set.
- Serve warm with whipped cream, if desired. Enjoy!