Shoofly Pie

with molasses and cinnamon

I’ve got a new pie for you, and it’s really, really, really easy. It’s called shoofly pie! Have you ever heard of it? I’d read about it online a few times, and put it in the back of my brain box for a day where I wanted to make a pie, but didn’t have a lot of ingredients. As long as you’ve got molasses, you’re good to go, because that’s really the main ingredient in this pie. However, I was a little concerned that it’d taste too strongly of molasses for people who weren’t huge molasses fans (like me). I love the dark, almost bittersweet flavor of really good blackstrap molasses, but I know I’m in the minority here. To combat this flavor, I added some untraditional cinnamon and a touch of extra sugar to what is a very traditional recipe. Shoofly pie is originally a Pennsylvania-Dutch dessert, and as you might imagine, it gets its name from having to “shoo” away flies from all the sugar. Some people make it with lots of extra crumb topping, so it’s almost cake-like, but I prefer it when it’s mostly molasses filling, which is super custardy and thick and so, so delicious. If you’re a pecan pie fan and love that caramely goodness inside the pie more than the pecans itself, I have a feeling you may like this pie, too. It’s definitely something for those of you who like a bit of a palate-challenge. I like to think of this as the fernet of desserts. It’s dark and mysterious, but once you have a bite, you’ll be strangely addicted to it and you’ll have no idea why. I don’t really know if that’s what the Pennsylvania-Dutch who originally made this pie were going for, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I think if you show up with this pie in hand on Thanksgiving Day, people are going to be pleasantly surprised. So go forth and mix it up this season – I dare ya.

shoofly pieshoofly pieThe ingredients couldn’t be more simple.

shoofly pieBut that doesn’t mean I won’t make a huge mess.

shoofly pieI love this pie dish because it makes every pie look absolutely perfect./images/2015/11/ShooflyPie/ShooFly-11_300.jpg

shoofly pieTa-da! Pie.

shoofly pieKramer said that one of his co-workers said that the filling reminded him of a Fig Newton cookie, which is totally accurate and only solidifies my love for this pie.

shoofly pieshoofly pie



Shoofly Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10 servings
A sweet, almost custard-like pie made with molasses, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
For the Crust:
  • 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, COLD (NOT room temperature), cut into pieces
  • ¾ cup shortening, COLD (NOT room temperature), cut into pieces
  • ⅔ cup ice water, plus more as needed
  • 3 teaspoons distilled white vinegar or vodka
For the Shoofly Pie Crumb Topping:
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the Shoofly Pie Filling:
  • ¾ cup boiling water (about 215 degrees F)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Pie Crust:
  1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add in the chopped pieces of cold butter (cold is essential for a flaky pie crust), then the cold shortening. Blend together with your hands (or, alternatively, a food processor) until you have coarse crumbs but a few pieces of buttery still clearly show through (it doesn’t have to be perfect).
  2. Place the dough back into the fridge for 15 minutes or so, so it stays cold. I don't always do this if I'm short on time, but if you can spare the minutes, it helps the dough a lot. Mix together the water and vinegar or vodka in a small bowl. When ready, slowly drizzle it over the dough, a tablespoon or so at a time, gently stirring the mixture with a fork or pulsing with your processor, until fully incorporated and the dough forms into a nice ball. You may not need all of the water. It might seem a bit too wet at this point, but it will dry up while it sits in the fridge.
  3. Form the dough gently into 2 loose balls, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours or as long as overnight (obviously, overnight is best - I sometimes let this dough sit for 36 hours). Be sure to let your dough sit out at room temperature for 10 minutes or so before you start to roll it out. This makes enough for two pie crusts, so if you are only making one pie, you can freeze the other ball for up to 3 months (obviously, let it thaw out before using).
For the Shoofly Pie:
  1. When you're ready, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out one ball of pie dough on a well-floured work surface, until it's big enough to fit into your pie dish. Fold any excess pie crust under itself, then crimp or decorate the edges however you like. Place the pie dish in the freezer while you make the filling.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, melt your ¼ cup unsalted butter, then add in your flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon, and mix together with a fork until crumb form, finishing up with your hands once the butter has cooled. Set aside.
  3. Place your baking soda and granulated sugar n a medium-sized bowl, then pour the boiling water over them and mix until dissolved. Add in your molasses and mix until dissolved, then add in your egg and beat quickly so that it doesn't scramble. Add in your cinnamon and vanilla and whisk to combine, then add in about ⅔ of your crumb topping and mix with a spoon until combined.
  4. Remove your pie crust from the freezer and pour your molasses filling into the crust. Sprinkle the remaining ⅓ of your topping over the pie, then bake for 45-55 minutes, until set and the crust is golden. Allow the pie to cool for at least an hour before slicing, but I recommend letting it cool for 3 hours so it is completely set. This is a great pie to make a day ahead - just store it, covered, at room temperature, until ready to serve. After a day, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

7 Responses

  1. I’ve definitely heard of this pie before but haven’t tried it!! I love molasses but have to agree with you that sometimes it can be a bit much – I need to try this version!

  2. Rachael says:

    As a former resident of Pennsylvania, let me tell you how giddy I am to see you baking one of my top 3 favorite pies of all time. Just in case anyone is wondering, Pennsylvania Dutch are not Dutch at all but German – as the word “Dutch” is just a corruption for the word “Deutsch” and typically when we refer to the Pennsylvania Dutch now, we are typically referring to the Old Amish or Mennonite Orders. This pie is VERY popular among Pennsylvanian locals – especially those originally hailing from the counties of Bucks, Lancaster and those surrounding it. I am from Montgomery County, but my parents and I visited Lancaster a lot and my best friend’s father was from Central-East PA farming community, so he grew up with shoo fly pie and introduced it to my family. Their recipe is the recipe I have been using since my family moved back to California. Sorry for that long-winded comment but I am VERY excited for this pie. I will try your recipe next time I make Shoofly Pie!

  3. I’ve never had Shoofly Pie, but I love Fig Newtons! I’ll have to try this…

  4. Jim Kramer says:

    I too am from Pennsylvania, and have returned to my original home Skippack, PA. Shoofly is definitely a Pennsylvania German (see very good explanation above) stable. I however prefer less goo and more cake. The pie crust is the key and should be made with lard.

    I worked with Kramer when I was in Phoenix at GMAC. Best wishes to both of you on this holiday season!

  5. […] Shoofly pie comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch, and it gets its name from the flies that are attracted to its sweet, molasses scent. There are two versions of shoofly pie, one with a wet bottom and more of a custard consistency, and one with a dry bottom that is more cake-like. Get the recipe at The Crepes Of Wrath. […]

  6. Sharon McKinstry says:

    I just had shoofly pie (wet bottom) for my birthday last week. Had the whole pie for myself! Memories of home. I grew up in eastern PA.

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