Stroll into almost any bakery in southeastern Pennsylvania, particularly in Lancaster County where a large population of Pennsylvania Dutch reside, and you’ll likely find shoofly pie on the menu. It traditionally consists of a pie crust with a molasses-flavored filling and a crumbled flour, sugar, and butter topping. There are two popular versions: a dry bottom and a wet bottom. The dry bottom is said to be the original form and has a dry, almost cake-like texture. On the other hand, the wet version (like this recipe) has a moist molasses filling and a buttery crumb topping, giving each slice a more custard-like consistency.
Though it is now often eaten as a dessert, shoofly pie was once—and in some areas of Pennsylvania still is—a breakfast staple. It was first introduced as a coffee cake in 1876 at the U.S. Centennial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. However, the cake soon migrated to a pie shell because it was more appealing to farmhouse cooks—and easier to eat—as a hand-held slice of pie. If you’ve never made one before, I think you’ll really enjoy this homey and old-fashioned pie!
WHY WE LOVE SHOOFLY PIE
- Brings back childhood memories. I grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country and shoofly pie is part of our family. I love this crumb-topped, molasses-filled pie and it’s a dessert that I go back to every now and then.
- Made using common pantry ingredients. The Amish and Mennonites were and still are very frugal people, so this Pennsylvania Dutch shoofly pie was created out of everyday food staples that were readily available. The only thing you might need to go out and get is the molasses.
- Quick to make. It takes less than 15 minutes to make this pie before it gets baked in the oven.
- A delectable treat. This yummy pie is not shy when it comes to flavor. Wonderfully rich, you’ll be making it more than once!
Here are the ingredients you'll need for this simple shoofly pie recipe:
- Sea salt
- Brown sugar
- Pumpkin purée
- Maple syrup
- Baking soda
- Molasses: The main ingredient in a shoofly pie. I use unsulfured blackstrap molasses.
- Pumpkin purée: A vegan substitute for an egg that binds the molasses filling.
- Maple syrup: Used to temper the bitter flavor of the molasses.
- Brown sugar: Dark or light–either will work. If you don’t have brown sugar, use granulated sugar evenly mixed together with a couple of teaspoons of molasses.
- Baking soda: Neutralizes some of the bitterness of the molasses.
- Sea salt: Also counteracts some of the molasses’ bitterness and brings out the flavor of the other ingredients.
STEP 1: MAKE THE PIE CRUST
Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add them to the bowl of a food processor.
Next, add the flour and sea salt to the butter. Blend until the mixture is crumbly with small pea-sized pieces of butter remaining.
Slowly drizzle in the ice water as the food processor is running until a dough begins to form.
Turn the dough onto a floured board. Next, gather it into a flat disk. Don't overwork the dough or the pastry will be tough.
Gently fold the dough in half, then in half again, making a triangle. Set aside.
STEP 2: PREPARE THE CRUMB TOPPING
In a mixing bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, brown sugar, and butter.
Using a fork, combine the ingredients and cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Set aside.
STEP 3: TO MAKE THE “WET BOTTOM” FILLING
In a heat-proof bowl, add the molasses, pumpkin purée, maple syrup, and baking soda. Stir well using a fork.
Next, pour in boiling water while stirring the mixture. The mixture may get frothy and lighten in color. Set aside.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE AND BAKE
Carefully lift the folded pie dough to a lightly oiled pie plate, making sure that the pointed end points to the center of the plate.
Gently unfold the dough and mold it to the plate, using your fingers to correct any cracks as you work. Trim the overhanging edge of the pastry using a knife or a pair of kitchen scissors.
Using your fingers, crimp or flute the edges of the crust.
Pour around ⅓ of the molasses filling into the pie crust. Using a large spoon, sprinkle ⅓ of the crumb topping over the filling. Repeat the process until the crust is full.
Carefully place the pie in a preheated 400°F oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking for 30 minutes or until the filling is set. If needed, use a pie shield or homemade foil ring to protect the crust from over-browning after about 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool the pie on a wire rack for a couple of hours before slicing and serving.
- How to store shoofly pie. The pie can be covered and stored at room temperature or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Keep it in a large airtight container, or cover it with plastic wrap once it has cooled to keep it as fresh as possible.
- Serving suggestion. For added flair, serve a slice of shoofly pie with a dollop of unsweetened vegan whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
- Blind-bake the crust. For a crisper crust, blind bake the pie crust first by lining the crust with parchment paper and filling it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 400°F for 12-15 minutes.
- Use light molasses instead of blackstrap. If the flavor of blackstrap molasses is too robust for you, you can use light molasses because the flavor is not as intense and also has less bitterness.
- Use a pastry blender. If you don’t have a food processor, use a pastry blender to make the crumb topping.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a shoofly pie made of?
The main ingredients in a traditional shoofly pie are brown sugar and molasses. Additionally, it has flour, eggs, butter, and the other basic ingredients you’d most likely find in a crumb cake recipe.
Why do they call it shoofly pie?
Many believe it’s called shoofly pie because the Pennsylvania Dutch specialty was so sugary that bakers had to “shoo” flies away from the pies as they cooled on the windowsill. Others believe that the name is a reference to the minstrel show song from the 1800s, “Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me.”
Is shoofly pie served warm or cold?
Shoofly pie is delicious when served slightly warm or at room temperature. If you choose to serve it warm, you can pair it with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of lightly sweetened vegan whipped cream on the side.
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SOME MORE DESSERT RECIPES TO TRY!
- Who doesn’t love peaches? Try this vegan peach coffee cake with streusel topping.
- I’m always in the mood for a slice of blackberry tart that’s made with fresh blackberries.
- This is truly the best vegan squash pie ever!
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