There are two types of shoofly pie, wet bottom and damp or dry bottom. Both feature a molasses custard with a crumb topping; the only difference is the consistency of the molasses filling. The drier versions can be eaten by hand and (as was once common, for breakfast) dunked in coffee. The wetter versions require a fork.
The origins of this pie are a mystery, though it seems to have been common at least as early as the late 1800s. The Dutch Haven, a Lancaster restaurant and gift shop, made shoofly pie a symbol of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country when it began serving pies to tourists and shipping them by mail order in the 1950s. The Dutch Haven’s shoofly pie is distinctly gooey, and (unfortunately, I think) that is the version that has since become most popular. Even less traditional is their practice of topping it with whipped cream. While I don’t make a habit of standing on tradition, sweeter and heavier are not always better.
This recipe makes a "damp bottom" pie. It is good for dessert, of course, but do try dunking a leftover piece in coffee the next morning for breakfast.
- Like lemon sponge pie, shoofly pie has a two-layer construction. Here, however, the layers begin separately but combine slightly while baking; some of the crumb mixture settles into the molasses to thicken it.
- Most people assume that the name "shoofly" comes from the need to shoo flies away from the pie as it cools. I have read one theory, however, that the name was actually borrowed from the Shoofly brand of molasses that was popular in the late 1800s.
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 boiling water
- 1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons shortening
- dough for a single pie crust
- 9-inch pie plate
- 3 mixing bowls
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water. Stir in the molasses and let cool to room temperature while you mix the dry ingredients.
- In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, brown sugar, and salt. Add the shortening and combine with your fingertips to make crumbs.
- Beat the egg in a third bowl. Pour in the molasses mixture and combine well. Pour the mixture into a prepared 9-inch pie shell. Scatter the crumbs evenly on top.
- Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the crust just begins to brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until firm (another 30 minutes or so).