I am glad you’re here, and I’m so excited to be able to teach you to make Classic Wet-Bottom Shoofly Pie recipe from ingredients you probably already own. If you’ve never made one before, I think you’ll really enjoy this homey and old-fashioned pie!
Like most old-fashioned recipes there is no definitive way to make it. Some are “dry bottom” and some are “wet bottom.” Read on to learn the difference and how to make my wet-bottom version.
If you’re a fan of desperation pies, you may also like my coconut custard pie recipe.
For ease of browsing, here are all of my pie and tart recipes. Thanks for stopping by!
Watch my shoofly pie recipe web story here.
Why You Need to Make This Pie
Man 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.
And in the dead of winter when there is no fruit to be had (or wasn’t any to be had out on the Prairie or wherever), stalwart, dessert-loving women took stock of their pantries and made amazing pies with what was on hand.
This Amish number is super easy to make, and it has a full molasses flavor but isn’t bitter, thanks to the baking soda and salt in the filling.
It’s very sweet, hence the name, but since it’s molasses-sweet and not refined sugar-sweet, it’s not overwhelmingly sweet.
The Amish tend to call this a breakfast pie, so enjoy it in the morning with a cup of coffee!
Shoofly 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?
The original crust 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.
I went with an all-butter crust, since I didn’t have any lard and the butter would have been a more likely candidate than shortening.
How to Make Shoofly Pie
Ingredients and Substitutions
NOTE: The first three ingredients: flour, brown sugar, and butter are for the streusel topping. So the molasses filling itself only contains 5 ingredients!
- flour: I use all-purpose flour. Since it doesn’t add much to the structure of the pie, you can also use cake flour. Bread flour might yield a chewy texture, so I’d stay away from that if you can
- 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.
- butter: use salted or unsalted here
- molasses: You’ll need about 9 oz by weight or 3/4 cup. Use unsulfered and not blackstrap molasses. You could also substitute sorghum syrup if you have some.
- hot water: Heat it to help it mix together easily with the thick molasses
- egg: You just need one
- baking soda: neutralizes some of the bitterness of the molasses
- salt: also counteracts some bitterness and brings out all the flavor
- Line your pie pan with dough, crimp, dock it (poke tiny holes in it with the tip of a knife, and freeze until you’re ready to bake.
- Rub the butter into flour, brown sugar, and salt to make a very sandy streusel. Set aside.
- Whisk together molasses and hot water.
- Whisk in the baking soda and salt. It will get a little foamy and will lighten in color.
- Whisk the egg and then whisk it into the filling.
- Mix half the streusel into the molasses mixture and pour into your prepared crust.
- Sprinkle the rest of the streusel evenly over the top of the filling.
- Bake at 400F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and continue baking for an additional 10-15 minutes until puffy and mostly firm on top.
Here are some video clips that help to illustrate a couple of the steps. I hope you find them helpful.
Here is what your streusel should look like when you’re finished rubbing in the fat:
Whisking some of the streusel into the molasses mixture:
This is an optional step, but I find the crust gets better color on it if I egg wash before baking. Note I’ve already filled the pan with filling and streusel:
Here’s what the pie looks like when sliced and served. Note it was still barely warm when I cut this piece:
Wet Bottom vs Dry Bottom Shoofly Pie
There are two basic kinds of shoo fly pie.
- one with crumbs mostly on top, like the one I made, and
- another with most of the crumbs/streusel thoroughly stirred in, yielding a more cakelike texture.
The version with the streusel on top and the molasses “gel” underneath is called “wet bottom,” and the more cake-like kind with the streusel stirred in is referred to as “dry bottom.”
Neither version is more authentic than the other, so don’t worry about that. You just need to decide which version you want to eat!
For a crisper crust, blind bake the pie crust first by lining the crust with a large-sized coffee filter or with parchment or non-stick foil. Fill crust completely with beans, rice, or sugar, and bake at 400F for 12015 minutes.
Remove weights and filter or foil, brush the entire crust with egg wash and bake an additional 5 minutes to set the egg wash. Let the crust cool to warm before filling it with the molasses mixture.
You will have to cover the edges of the pie during baking to make sure the edges of the crust don’t get too dark.
Shoofly Pie Q & A
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. It foams up as the acid in the molasses interacts with the base of baking soda. This neutralizes most (not all) of the bitterness of the molasses.
The name “shoo-fly pie” suggests it is so sweet that, before you can eat it, you have to shoo away the flies that will come visiting.
Without the baking soda, it could be a bit on the bitter side, with a very strong molasses flavor. But since some enterprising cook back on the prairie or somewhere added baking soda to mellow out the flavor, this pie tastes of molasses without the bitterness. The streusel layer is sandy and a little crunchy, and the baked “molasses custard” part is sweet and smooth. Both textures contrast nicely with the crisp crust.
Cover the pie and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Slice and plate 45 minutes or so before serving so it can come up to room temperature.
I like to serve this pie with a little unsweetened whipped cream. It’s sweet enough on its own, so I don’t feel the need to add sugar to my hand-whipped cream.
If you really want to gild the lily though, serve it with a scoop of homemade French vanilla ice cream.
Other Desperation Pies
This pie is one of four I made for a series on “desperation pies.” You may enjoy some of these others, too.
If you have questions about this post or recipe, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can leave a comment on the post and I will get back to you within about 24 hours.
If your question is more urgent, please shoot me an email, and I will respond within 4 hours, unless I’m asleep.
A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
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For the Crust
- 1 9" pie shell, (not deep dish), docked and frozen* (See Note)
For the Streusel
- 4.5 oz all purpose flour, (about 1 cup)
- 4.7 oz dark or light brown sugar, (about 2/3 cup, packed)
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
For the Molasses Syrup
- 9 oz molasses, (3/4 cup)
- 4.5 oz hot water, (1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- heavy pinch kosher salt, (about 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
To Make the Streusel
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour and the brown sugar.
- Rub in the butter very well so there are no little bits of butter remaining. The mixture should look about like cornmeal and should clump together when you squeeze it and then sort of fall apart if you poke it.
- Squeeze some together so you have some pebbles of streusel and leave some of it sandy.
To Make the Molasses Syrup
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the molasses and hot water. Thoroughly whisk in the baking soda and salt. Mixture may get sort of frothy and will definitely lighten in color. Thoroughly whisk in the beaten egg.
To Assemble and Bake
- Mix about half the streusel into the molasses syrup and pour into the prepared pie crust.
- Sprinkle the rest of the streusel in an even layer over the top of the pie.
- Carefully place the pie on the center rack of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 350F.
- Continue baking for about 15 more minutes then cover the pie loosely with foil to prevent excessive browning of the crust. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until the pie is nicely puffed up all over. It will settle as it cools.
- Serve warm or barely warm with lightly sweetened (or even unsweetened) whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.
Since shoo fly pie filling is so wet, your bottom crust can sort of dissolve or get soggy. This didn't bother me. If it bothers you, you can blind bake and egg wash your crust to make it "waterproof." Please see the Joe Pastry post for instructions.
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1/8
Amount Per Serving Calories 259Saturated Fat 2gCholesterol 31mgSodium 94mgCarbohydrates 52gSugar 40gProtein 2g
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You can watch my classic shoofly pie web story here.
And that is really all there is to it! This is a truly delicious pie. The barely set, sort of woogly texture of the molasses layer is balanced by the sandy crispness of the streusel on top. Simple and easy and pure comfort. Please, if you’ve never tried shoofly pie, don’t miss out. There’s a reason why it’s a classic!
Thank you for spending some time with me today. I appreciate it.
Have a lovely day.