Food for Thought Friday: Shoofly Pie

Shoofly Pie

Some vacation time last week found me in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. While I grew up in Connecticut, both my mother and father were raised in Bethlehem, and we spent a lot of time there when I was a kid. So much so, no map was necessary for this trip; I navigated our journey across four states, through city streets, along back roads and well-worn shortcuts—familiar to me “like the back of my hand.”

Traveling back to the area brought to mind a great many memories from when I was little—most notably, the food.

Granted, Bethlehem has changed a lot since I was young. IT is younger now—more hip, with its bistros and brewpubs, sidewalk cafés and artisan bakeries. I imagine, soon, the new casino will soldier in more change—every tourist brochure is already brandishing “Emeril’s Chop Shop” in lieu of the charming downtown eateries. But for now, there is a sweet mix of familiar and new.

My old favorites were greatly influenced by the peoples who call Pennsylvania home—the Amish, the Pennsylvania Dutch, the Moravians, and those of German and Polish descent. You can tell by the names that they are not your average fare: scrapple and summer bologna, Shoofly Pie and Moravian Sugar Cake, red beet eggs and chow chow.

I think my favorite of the favorites is Shoofly Pie, if for no other reason than the name: shoo fly pie. You’ve got to love what your mouth does when you say it!

You’ve got to love what your mouth does when you taste it! Shoofly Pie is a Pennsylvania Dutch dessert. It’s a layered treat of almost-sweet crumbs and gooey molasses—the “wet bottom” part of a traditional wet-bottom Shoofly Pie.

I thought I would share the following recipe with you, courtesy of the Walp’s Family Restaurant Cookbook. Walp’s was a restaurant in neighboring Allentown, Pennsylvania that served traditional Pennsylvania Dutch food for 62 years. It was my grandfather Pappy’s favorite place for family celebrations and one of the first places I ever ate Shoofly Pie.


• • •

Shoofly Pie

Combine and mix thoroughly:
3/4 cup mild molasses
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 tsp baking soda

Combine and blend thoroughly:
1-1/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2-1/2 tbsp solid vegetable shortening

1 unbaked 8-inch pie shell (prepared or make your own)

Prepare crumbs first and set aside; then, prepare liquid and set aside for 5 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Thoroughly stir liquid, and place 1-1/4 cups into the unbaked pie shell. Add 1 cup of crumbs to the liquid in pie shell. Let stand for 2 minutes. Add another cup of crumbs evenly over the pie. Place immediately into the pre-heated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for about 50 minutes.

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9 thoughts on “Food for Thought Friday: Shoofly Pie

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  1. and what a perfectly descriptive name – can you imagine, long ago, someone making this pie out of whatever they had available, serving it at, say, a barn raising or some community event, and everyone’s outside eating, and everyone loves this pie, and people are so possessive of their slice of it that all the mothers and aunts and grandmothers are fretting over their families’ plates, swatting away the insects, saying “Shoo! Shoo, fly! Get away! Shoo, fly, shoo!” so that when someone finally does ask, “What’s this pie called?” no one can answer, because the woman who made it has already gone home and at church the next day someone asks her to bring along another delicious “shoo fly pie” to the next gathering… sounds like something my grandmother would have made! thanks for sharing, jen!

  2. Oh Jen, how perfectly wonderful ! ~ so happy to have the shared memories and the recipe, AND Tara’s delightful story of how it might have first been served and gotten it’s name! ALL yummy!

  3. hey jen! yet another thing in common with you. i have many happy memories in PA camping with my family. we would spend a whole week in PA. almost every summer. we did many weekend trips too thru out the summer as well. one of our favorite haunts was Haags Hotel. and we would have a pennsylvania dutch dinner with like 20 side dishes. everything was fabulous. and of course there was shoo fly pie for dessert. we’re talking circa 1970 – 1977. it was a huge huge treat to go out for dinner back then and an even bigger treat when we were camping. thanks for bringing back so many fond memories from being a kid. when going out to dinner and getting dessert was beyond the beyond
    doreen : )

    1. What fun! We actually drove by Haags Hotel when we visited Roadside America – for sure you have been there, too? Love that we share this! : )

  4. I made a Shoo-Fly Pie, have one just out of the oven now and still hot, for Sunday dinner today. I start with a crumb layer and alternate with the liquid, just a little different than yours. I also use granulated sugar instead of brown sugar. Really nice dessert. I enjoy seeing how others make their recipes.

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