My family and I ate this Pennsylvania Dutch shoo fly pie when I was growing up. It has a wet bottom molasses base and a fun and crunchy topping!
Looking back at my childhood, I am grateful for the experiences that I had. Living in Delaware, my family and I had access to so much good food. We constantly made trips to Philadelphia to eat in Chinatown, and we weren’t too far from other spectacular Asian food in the DC suburbs. One type of food that I often overlook is from the Pennsylvania Dutch.
About once a month, we would visit our local farmer’s market and buy fresh produce and meats. Obviously, I would peruse the bakeries and drool over all of the freshly baked breads, muffins and pies. We would occasionally buy a shoo fly pie, and I am probably the one that devoured it all without sharing. (Sorry not sorry.)
So what exactly is a shoo fly pie, and what’s up with the crazy name? Well, the story as I heard it is that the pie would attract flies since it was so sweet. The locals would have to constantly shoo away the flies, and thus the name was born. Of course, that’s an urban legend, so I don’t know how much truth there is to that particular story.
The pie itself is made from a homemade crust, which I’ve recreated here. The bottom layer is made of a molasses base. There are two types of shoo fly pie – one with a wet base, and one that is dry. The dry base is more cake-like in nature, which I did not make today. I opted for the gooey wet base because I love fudgy textures. Then, the pie is topped off with a streusel-like topping that is made from flour, sugar and shortening. What’s not to love, besides the calorie count?
Although our scores below reflect otherwise, my family liked the pie. Neither my husband nor daughter had eaten a lot of molasses before, and they certainly didn’t grow up on this pie. Addie said that the pie was “OK” and preferred it with a scoop of ice cream on top. My husband happily ate it and said it was very molasses-y. See, that’s all good in my book.
I hope you’ll enjoy this taste from my childhood. A little slice goes a long way, so be forewarned!
Husband’s rating: 2.5 out of 5
Addie’s rating: 2.5 out of 5
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
Pennsylvania Dutch shoo fly pie
- 1 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter very cold and diced
- ¼ cup ice water
- 1 cup molasses
- ⅔ cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup shortening softened
- Pinch salt
Make the crust
- In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt together. Add in the butter until your mixture looks like wet sand. Slowly stream in the water until a loose dough forms (you may not need all of the water).Alternatively, you can do this by hand. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut in the butter until you get pea-sized clumps. Slowly add in the water and mix with your hands until a dough forms.
- Shape the dough into a round disc and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Chill in your refrigerator for about 4 hours.
- Once the dough has thoroughly chilled, roll it out into a circle. Place it into a pie pan and trim the edges. Flute/crimp them if desired. Then place the pie plate back into the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 additional hour.
Make the filling
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, mix together the molasses, boiling water and baking soda. It will be slightly bubbly. Pour this into your prepared (unbaked) pie crust.
Make the topping
- In a separate large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the shortening. Add this on top of the molasses mixture. The pie will be quite tall, and some of the topping will seem fairly loose. This is OK.
- Place your pie plate on top of a baking sheet or baking pan and bake in your preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until the center is no longer jiggly.
- Allow the pie to cool completely before serving. Otherwise, the molasses filling will ooze everywhere.