Classic Shoo Fly Pie | #tbtfood

 

Pastry Chef Online WelcomeI am glad you're here, and I'm so excited to be able to teach you to make Classic Shoo Fly Pie!
Classic Shoo Fly Pie is pretty much a perfect pie. Made using only pantry staples, if you've never made one--or pie in general--this is a great place to start. It truly is a classic, and everyone should try it. Superb! | pastrychefonline.comMan oh man, but our grandmothers and their mothers and grandmothers before them knew how to take a lot of nothing and turn it into something sublime. I don't mean to say that the ingredients in classic shoo fly pie are dumb--they're all pretty much pantry staples--but there were no fancy or gourmet ingredients necessary. Pies have been around forever, and certainly well before gourmet grocery stores were peddling rarefied ingredients to the masses. Seriously, check out the ingredient list for the filling:

  • flour
  • brown sugar
  • butter
  • molasses
  • hot water
  • egg
  • baking soda
  • salt

I can pretty much guarantee that you have all these ingredients with the possible exception of the molasses which is readily available at grocery stores right by the corn syrup and other baking sweeteners.

This pie is one of four I made for a series on "desperation pies" for #tbtfood in January, 2016. Here are the others.

pie collage

  1. Cinnamon Sorghum Custard Pie
  2. This guy right here.
  3. Chocolate Chess Pie
  4. Indiana Sugar Cream Pie

I used a different technique for each crust treatment. Like that one for the Indiana Sugar Cream Pie? Me too! I call it Button Crust.

 

Click Here and I will send you the
Step-by-Step Photo Tutorial
of How to Make the "Button Crust!"

 

Classic Shoo Fly PieClassic Shoo Fly Pie is pretty much a perfect pie. Made using only pantry staples, if you've never made one--or pie in general--this is a great place to start. It truly is a classic, and everyone should try it. Superb! | pastrychefonline.com

My first introduction to classic shoo fly pie was in the song. Do you know the one?

Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pandowdy
make your eyes light up and your tummy say howdy.

Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pandowdy,
I never get enough of that wonderful stuff!

I love this version by the way! I knew the song because my mom used to sing it around the house. From the context, I figured that shoo fly pie and apple pandowdy were Not To Be Missed, but I never had either until I made a classic shoo fly pie the other day. And I have yet to make apple pandowdy, although I expect that will change pretty soon!

Classic Shoo Fly Pie is pretty much a perfect pie. Made using only pantry staples, if you've never made one--or pie in general--this is a great place to start. It truly is a classic, and everyone should try it. Superb! | pastrychefonline.comShoo Fly pie is most popular in and around Amish and Mennonite communities in Pennsylvania whose cooks are known for making delicious food alchemy with basic pantry ingredients. Moravian Sugar Cake, anyone? Right? I referenced the ingredient list for classic shoo fly pie up at the top. The original recipe most likely contained lard, and the recipe I based my version on called for shortening which wasn't invented until 1910 and certainly wasn't an ingredient in the pies made by the settlers who came to Pennsylvania in the early to mid-1700's.

Shoo Fly Pie is put together in a really interesting way. There are two basic components: a streusel made without too much fat and a molasses and egg syrup. Seems like there is no one right way to make a shoo fly pie. Some people layer have the streusel on the bottom of the crust, pour in the syrup and then add the rest of the streusel on top. My friend Joe Pastry makes his beautiful version by actually stirring the streusel into the molasses syrup making a batter that bakes into a cake-ish layer on top and a gooey layer of molasses underneath.

I rather liked the idea of having a very light-colored top and then being surprised by the very dark filling once you cut into it, so I layered about 1/4 of my streusel into the crust followed by half the syrup, another 1/4 of the streusel, and then the rest of the syrup. I topped the whole guy with the remaining streusel and then baked him up.

Another interesting thing about the pie is the use of baking soda. You whisk it into the molasses with hot water and then an egg. The baking soda changes the color of the mixture, making it lighter. I'm pretty sure what is happening is not unlike the Dutch process for making cocoa powder: alkalizing. You take an acidic ingredient (cocoa powder, molasses) and introduce a substance with a high pH (a base, such as baking soda). This raises the pH of the original ingredient into neutral territory, and it can tone down bitterness quite a bit. These days, the unsulfured we use is pretty mild, but I bet back in the days of the original Amish and Mennonite settlers in Pennsylvania, the molasses they used could have curled your hair! Strong stuff!

Enough singing and talking, talking and singing. Ready to make some classic shoo fly pie? Let's get to it!

My recipe is based very closely on a recipe posted to allrecipes.com by user D. Stultz. She says it was her grandmother's recipe. The only things I changed were to scale back the amount of filling after reading that some folks had too much filling, to use butter rather than shortening in the streusel and to add a heavy pinch of salt. Otherwise, this is all D. Stutz's grandmother's baby.

And before you grab the recipe, don't forget about the Button Crust Tutorial:

a Indiana Sugar Cream Pie-4

Click Here and I will send you the
Step-by-Step Photo Tutorial
of How to Make the "Button Crust!"

 

Classic Shoo Fly Pie is pretty much a perfect pie. Made using only pantry staples, if you've never made one--or pie in general--this is a great place to start. It truly is a classic, and everyone should try it. Superb! | pastrychefonline.comGet the Recipe

Comments

  1. Cheryl says

    Huzzah, Sissy! This pie looks AMAZING!!! The photos are simply gorgeous and wait for it… I HAVE EVERYTHING IN MY PANTRY! Even the molasses! I may forgo the gym so I can bake this beautiful pie.
    I very much enjoyed reading this post and the explanation of science in baking. Thank you for another fantastic recipe to add to my “Must Make” list!
    xx

  2. Suzette says

    I believe 4.5 ounces of water would be equivalent to 1/2 cup of water plus one tablespoon and not one cup of water plus one tablespoon. Am I right? I’ve never had shoo fly pie but it looks amazing. Can’t wait to try it!!

  3. Carol says

    This pie was super darn delicious! I was unable to eat half and save half! I had to eat the whole thing!! Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      I was really surprised by how much I liked it too, Carol! I mean, I *like* molasses, but I didn’t realize it would be so magic in a pie! And to think, you were *almost* disappointed it wasn’t the Other pie! lol I’m so glad you enjoyed it! xo

  4. Suzanne says

    If you’re interested, I’ll share my great Nana’s recipe for Shoo fly pie. I’m half Penna Dutch & grew up on a farm down there. I can guarantee that’s it’s authentic! The top definitely isn’t streusel, it’s kind of a sandy crumb. And we called our Sugar Cream pies ‘Milk Pie’….though my Pappy called them ‘Slop Pie’, lol

  5. says

    Here is why I am super thrilled that you shared the recipe for real Shoo Fly Pie (that looks spectacularly perfect!): when I was in college in Philadelphia, I rented a house with two friends for the summer. One of the friends, Andy, had a grandmother who lived outside of the city and had for maybe most of her life. We all called her Nana. She was one of those Main Line, old family women, polite, elegant, funny. We invited her to the house one evening for dinner and she brought, yes, you guessed it, a shoo fly pie. I had no idea what it was. It looked kinda chocolatey or something similar. She cut us each a thick slice which we happily took. And I remember putting a first forkful of that pie in my mouth and thought I was going to die. It was disgusting. Bitter, weird. But this was Nana and I had to be polite. So another forkful, and another, I suffered. But then something strange happened. The fourth and fifth mouthful and it started to taste better. Then more and it started tasting wonderful! By the time I had finished that slice of shoo fly pie I was head over heels in love with shoo fly pie. And the 3 of us fought over the rest of the pie that Nana left with us after the meal. And I have never eaten it again nor have I ever made one because I never trusted a recipe to match Nana’s pie. Yours looks just like hers. Thank you.

    • says

      I love this story! If I had thought it was chocolate, I’d have been very very sad when I took a bite, too! lol But when you go in knowing what to expect, then it’s bliss from the first bite! <3

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