Monday, November 21, 2011

Shoo-fly Pie

Shoo-fly pie is a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch pie. I fell in love with this pie the very first time I tasted it 6 years ago. We were driving through some farm land in Lancaster, PA and we saw a little vegetable stand by the road side and we stopped to get some fresh produce. There was this little Amish boy taking care of the stand and beside vegetables he sells pies too. One particular pie caught my eyes as it look different from the rest of the pies. He told me it was Shoo-fly Pie. The name sounds funny to me so I bought half a pie home to try it out. I actually like the taste of the pie. It has a nice molasses flavor, cakey like on the side and gooey and soft at the center. Here is a bit of history on this unique pie.

Taken from What’s Cooking America:

Pennsylvania Dutch cooking is indigenous to those areas of southeastern Pennsylvania that were settled by the Mennonites and Amish. William Penn (1644-1718), founder of Pennsylvania, was seeking colonists for the Pennsylvania area. The Amish and Mennonites both settled in Pennsylvania as part of William Penn's "holy experiment" of religious tolerance. He wanted to establish a society that was godly, virtuous and exemplary for all of humanity. Encouraged by William Penn’s open invitation to persecuted religious groups, various sects of Christian Anabaptists-Mennonites and offshoots such as the Amish and the Brethren-emigrated from Germany and Switzerland. The first sizeable group arrived in America around 1730 and settled near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

These settlers were addicted to pies of all types and they ate them at any time of day. The most famous of their pies is the shoo-fly pie. As the very earliest settlers came to North America by boat, they brought with them the staples of their diet - long-lasting nonperishable that would survive a long boat trip. These staples were flour, brown sugar, molasses, lard, salt, and spices. Arriving in the new land during late fall, they had to live pretty much on what they had brought with them until the next growing season. The women, being master of the art of "making do," concocted a pie from the limited selection that could be found in the larder. This resourcefulness led to the creation of shoo-fly pie.

Visit the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania and indulge in a Pennsylvania Dutch original, the Shoo-fly Pie. First time visitors to the area always comment on this pie and its strange name. Most of the area restaurants and bakeries sell this favorite pie. The pie is more like a coffee cake, with a gooey molasses bottom. Some cooks put chocolate icing on top for a chocolate shoo-fly pie. Some use spices; some don't. The bottom of the pie can be thick or barely visible and is referred to as either a "wet bottom" or a "dry bottom." Everyone agrees the shoo-fly pie is best when slightly warmed and with whipped cream on top.

The origin of the name has been debated for years and will probably never ultimately be solved. The most logical explanation is related to the fact that during the early years of our country, all baking was done in big outdoor ovens. The fact that pools of sweet, sticky molasses sometimes formed on the surface of the pie while it was cooling; invariably attracting flies, show how such a pie could come to be called shoo-fly pie.


I cup flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) plus 1 tbsp butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup hot boiling water
9” diameter unbaked pie crust

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degree F. Combined flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Mix well.
2. For the topping, transfer ½ cup of the flour mixture to a separate bowl and mix in the 1 tbsp of butter with your fingers until crumbly. Set it aside.
3. Melt the ¼ cup butter and let it cool slightly. Beat eggs with a whisk until blended. Stir in the molasses and melted butter. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until well mix.
4. Stir in the baking soda. Gradually stir in boiling water until well mix.
5. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Sprinkle the reserved topping and bake it for 50 minutes or until the filling is puffy and set.
6. Remove from oven and let it cool down for 15-20 minutes before serving.


Jeannie said...

Sounds delicious, I guess it won't be the same if I substitute molasses with dark brown sugar huh?

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

never heard this pie before, but look at the ingredients, it must be sound great!

busygran said...

Interesting pie name! Tempting to try out!

Shereen said...

The name of the pie alone makes me want to try the pie!

My Little Space said...

Gert, the way you described this pie making me salivate. And it looks really good as well. Have bookmarked it. Thanks for shraing.
Hope you're having a fabulous day. Take care.

Debbie said...

This is my all time favorite pie. I had this many years ago when I was little and visiting Pennsylvania. You can rarely found this outside of Pa. so I now bake this myself! Looks delicious!

Alonna Smith said...

Hi Gertrude,

I grew up Pennsylvania Dutch and this pie was a staple of my mom's kitchen. Our version was the "dry bottom" and, of course, that is what I like best. Thanks so much for posting about this pie.

Awayofmind Bakery House said...

Gert, thanks for sharing the interesting story about this pie. It looks delicious to me too!

Candy Spooner said...

Just to enlighten you as I was confused myself when we were visiting Lancaster Country. I saw Elton Brown's Good Eats and he said that the Pennsylvania "Dutch" is actually Pennsylvania DEUTSCH meaning Pennsylvania GERMANS hence the migrates were from Germany and not Holland! :) I think it makes absolute sense now! :D

lena said...

that's really a funny name! if anyone would have known why this is being named, that would be very interesting!

Elin said...

Gert...Shoo-fly Pie sounds interesting and looks delicious. Glad that you can replicate this pie so when you are in SF you won't miss it so much lo :) So when are you leaving for SF for good? Hope to see you this coming CNY :) Happy Thanksgiving Day to you and Carlos and Diana.

Lisa Ho said...

I love the name... and would love to try bake some day :D

Cheah said...

The name is unique and the pie looks lovely.

ICook4Fun said...

Jeannie, thank you. For this pie it is all about the molasses. Can you get molasses at the bakery supply shops?

Sonia, if you have a chance I hope you try this pie out :)

Busygran, yeap very unique name.

Shereen, ha ha I hope you try it out when you get home.

Kristy, you are most welcome. I hope you and your family like this pie.

Debbie, yea you can only get this pie here in Pennsylvannia.

Alonna, I too prefer the dry bottom one :)

ICook4Fun said...

Ah Tze, you are welcome.

Candy, I didn't catch the Elton Brown show but I've seen Tyler Florence made this pie :)

Lena, yea I too find it funny the first time I heard it :)

Elin, actually it is not easy to find this pie from the bakery here. Not many people make this now. I won't be going home for CNY because of the move. I might go back a little bit later.

Lisa, hope you like this pie.

Cheah, thank you.

Anonymous said...

How long does shoo fly pie stay fresh? My parents brought me some from Lancaster, PA for Thanksgiving and it's still in my fridge.

Unknown said...

I am wondering the same thing. I bought mine over a week and half ago.