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Pie 16 Pennsylvania's Shoofly Pie

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

I remember when I first read Taste of Homes article ‘50 Pies for 50 States,’ there were plenty of tried and true pie recipes, lots of favorites, pies I was familiar with and comfotable with. There were also a handful of ‘I’ve never made this and I’m not sure what it’s supposed to look or taste like' pies. This weeks pie is one of those ‘I hope I’m doing this right,’ pies. Which I guess is the whole point of this pie journey, I’m here to learn and discover about all things pie. So if you’ve never heard of or tried Shoofly Pie, you’re not the only one. I think in all my pie making years, I’ve only had one person ask me if I knew how to make a Shoofly Pie, and he happens to be from PENNSYLVANIA, also where this vintage dessert draws its roots.

The Molasses based pie has a long standing history in Pennsylvania’s, Lancaster County. In the 1800’s the Pennsylvania Dutch introduced this sweet dish as a coffee cake. In 1876 it was referred to as ‘Centennial Cake,’ to celebrate 100 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The nearby Amish community took the beloved cake and turned it into something more portable. Wanting a quick, on-the-go breakfast that could be eaten by hand, the cake-y treat was tossed into a pie shell, evolving into the pie that’s still served in Dutch Country today. There’s a lot of debate over how the pie got it’s name. Some say the sticky, syrupy, pies were cooked in outdoor ovens and cooled on windowsills, attracting flies. There are also stories of a boxing mule who was part of a traveling circus, his name was ‘Shoofly.’ He got his name from the song ‘Shoo, Fly, don’t bother me.’ The mule became famous in the Lancaster area, his standing as a legend led to the use of his name on a variety of products, including Shoofly Molasses. This popular brand of molasses was used to make the pie, perhaps giving us ‘Shoofly pie.’ We may never know for sure how the pie got it’s name, but I bet we can all agree it’s quite an unusual name for a pie.

Looks like the night sky

When it comes to making this dessert there are two versions of Shoofly, wet-bottom and dry-bottom. The dry bottom has the crumbly topping mixed into the filling, whereas the wet-bottom has the crumb on top, leaving a sweet, sticky, gooey layer on the bottom of the crust. The recipe I used is for a wet bottom Shoofly pie, and is typically what you’ll find served throughout Pennsylvania. Having spent time in Lancaster and Pittsburgh I’m seriously regretting never having tried this pie while I was there. The rich, deep flavor of the molasses, spiced up like a ginger cookie is warm and inviting. The brown sugar butter crumble soaks right into the filling. It bakes up to a cake like consistency. Some even call it a pie-cake. If you are a fan of gingerbread, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. This is the perfect Winter Dessert, showing off all the holiday spices. Sadly I don’t think this humble pie gets the credit it deserves. Don’t let the name ‘Shoo’ you away😉

Gingerbread Men to add to the top of the pie. Look at those guys, you just can't help but smile :)

Looks like he's making snow angels on top of the Shoofly Pie

Originally Published December 11, 2o19

Trip to Pennsylvania to pick up our daughter from her summer ballet intensive at Pittsburg Ballet.

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