A recent conversation about regional food turned into a discussion about shoofly pie. This is a recipe I’ve seen in my favorite cookbook of pies and tarts and ignored because none of the ingredients really grabbed me (no chocolate?) At the urging of our Philly guest, I decided not to swat this idea away and see what the buzz is all about (someone please laugh here!)
So why do people want to eat a pie with a reference to “flies” in it? And does the name refer to those pesky insects that show up randomly or is it just a nickname? Well, a little of both. It’s said that because of the high molasses content flies are drawn which requires one to “shoo them away” – hopefully before they execute the perfect landing on top (eww!)
On a serious note, Shoofly pie is considered a custard type in the same “pie family” as pecan and Chess pie (“jus pie”). Chess pie is a Southern specialty similar to pecan but without the nuts. Shoofly is famous in Pennsylvania Dutch country and is thickened with a streusel to more closely resemble cake. This delight of a dessert made it’s way into our lexicon in the mid 20’s and can be mail ordered today if you’re willing to shell out a few bucks.
For those who prefer to make and bake their own pie the following recipe is from my friend Jen and it’s been passed down four generations in her family. Her father made sure to note that “there’s nothing better in the morning than shoofly pie and a good cup of coffee” and I reckon he’s probably right!
Nana’s Shoe Fly Pie
Recipe courtesy of the Gilburg family, Lancaster PA.
Make or purchase crust for an 8 inch pie
Stir crumb topping ingredients in a small bowl:
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup baking molasses (Brer Rabbit)
- ½ cup baking soda**
- ½ cup boiling water
*Make sure the water is boiling…the mixture will fizz so be sure to place the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Stir together and pour into crust. Top with crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Enjoy!
**Editor’s note: we’ve received feedback that the original amount of baking soda (1/2 cup) rendered this pie too salty. The recommendation is for less baking soda in the amount of 1 teaspoon.
Also, here’s another recipe to try.