Hey, have you ever tried Mennonite Shoofly Pie? You might have heard of it as Amish Shoofly Pie. Either way, if you haven’t tasted it yet, you’re seriously missing out. It’s a simple pie with basic ingredients, but it tastes amazing. It has a rich and complex flavor that will surprise you.
The first time I came across this recipe, it was in an old notebook covered in food stains. Mennonite girls start copying recipes from their mom’s cookbook as soon as they learn how to cook. It’s so cool to look through one of these notebooks and see how the handwriting changes from neat and tidy to rushed and messy to relaxed and elegant.
First, Gather Your Ingredients
flour – just regular wheat flour.
Sugar – You know that feeling when you need brown sugar for a recipe and you find a rock-hard lump in your pantry? Yeah, that sucks. But don’t panic, you can make your own brown sugar in a snap, with just two things you probably have already: white sugar and molasses. That’s how they make brown sugar in the factory, by adding molasses to white sugar. Just mix one cup of white sugar with one tablespoon of molasses for light brown sugar, or two tablespoons for dark brown sugar. You can use whatever you have handy to mix them up: a fork, a whisk, or even your fingers. You’ll end up with a soft and fluffy brown sugar that will last for ages in a sealed jar.
Cinnamon and Nutmeg – these are essential spices for any baker, and they add a warm and cozy flavor to the pie. You probably have them in your spice cupboard already, but if not, or if they have lost their aroma over time, this is a good opportunity to stock up on some fresh ones.
Cider molasses – this is a traditional ingredient for this pie, made by boiling down apple cider until it becomes thick and syrupy. It’s easy enough to make at home if you can afford that much fresh cider. You can substitute regular light molasses, which is easier to find and has a milder flavor. You will need one cup of molasses for this recipe. If you like a more intense and bitter taste, you can use blackstrap molasses instead, but be aware that it might overpower the other flavors in the pie.
Egg – Only one is needed for this. As mentioned earlier, these “desperation pies” were made when the cupboard was bare.
Baking soda – this cuts some of the bitterness of molasses, and you really don’t want to leave it out.
unbaked pie crust – you can make your own or buy one
whipped cream or vanilla ice cream – both of these are delicious
Where did it come from?
Shoofly Pie is an old-fashioned dessert from the Pennsylvania Dutch, who are not really Dutch at all. They’re actually German, and they call themselves Deutsch, which means German in their language. They settled in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, but travelled all over North America, and many of them are Mennonite or Amish. They live a simple and traditional life.
This pie is a “Desperation Pie”, because it was what the women made when they ran out of fresh fruit or jam in the winter. They used what they had in the pantry or fridge, like molasses, flour, butter, and eggs. The pie has a sticky and yummy filling and a crumbly topping that looks like fly food, so that’s why it’s called Shoofly Pie.
Both Amish and Mennonite cooks make this pie, and they don’t really change it much. It’s a tasty and cozy treat that you can have any time of the year, but it’s even better with some ice cream on top. (That’s something new that the old-timers probably didn’t do.)
Breakfasts That Include Dessert?
I used to wonder how the Amish and Mennonite mothers could serve such huge breakfasts to their families. They would cook potatoes, eggs, and meat, and brew strong coffee, and then top it all off with a slice of Shoofly Pie for dessert. Dessert for breakfast?
Then I became a mom of boys … boys who seemed to have endless appetites, boys who would wake up hungry and ask for more food right after they ate.
That’s when I realized why these farm women would feed their hard-working sons and husbands so well. They needed the energy and the calories to do their chores in the fields, the woods, or the barns. And they deserved a sweet treat to start their day with a smile.
Now I can relate to them as I watch my boys devour their breakfast and head off to school or play. And sometimes I join them in having a piece of Shoofly Pie to go.
Baked in a pie pan and with a bottom crust, this crumbly molasses-rich pie is much more like a cake, and it is probably based on treacle cakes from England. The crust makes it sturdy enough to hold in one hand and eat without plate or fork.
Shoofly was definitely a breakfast dish, but most of us are more likely to have it as a very sweet dessert, akin to French Canadian Sugar Pie, served in tiny pieces with whipped cream. Try varying it by pouring the batter into individual tart shells – they’ll cook faster that way.
You might be wondering how this pie got its name. There are different theories, but none of them are very certain. One story is that the pie would attract flies with its sticky molasses as it cooled down, and the women would have to shoo them away. But that doesn’t make much sense, since they probably made this pie in the winter when there were no flies.
Another story is that the women would give this pie to their husbands or sons and tell them to shoo off to their work or hobbies. Maybe they wanted some peace and quiet, or maybe they wanted to have some pie for themselves.
Or maybe the name has nothing to do with flies at all. Maybe it comes from the brand of molasses, Shoofly Molasses that was used in the original recipe. The molasses, in its turn, was named for a Boxing Mule …?
Whatever the origin of the name, one thing is clear: the molasses is the star of this pie. It gives it its distinctive flavor and texture, and makes it irresistible to anyone who tries it.
Hey Where’s the Crumb Topping?
A quick note about this photo – if you’re familiar with Shoofly Pie, you’re probably wondering what happened to the crumb topping.
The answer is that my 7 year old helper was overzealous and dumped the crumb mixture into the molasses mixture before I could fill the pie crusts.
Instead of pouring the molasses mixture into the crusts and then sprinkling the crumbs on top, it got all mixed up. (And it was still delicious, so I figured I’d post it anyway)
This, then, is my “not authentic” shortcut – if you want to whisk it all up in the bowl, it won’t be completely traditional, but it’ll still make a delicious dessert! If you want to make it authentic, though, be sure and sprinkle the crumbs on top! It will add another level of texture, but the flavor will be wonderful either way.
Sometimes cooking ‘mistakes’ are just new variations, and having the willing help of a child is definitely worth having a recipe turn out slightly less than ‘perfect’.
Plus it gave me an excuse to do the recipe again the right way!
Wet Bottom or Dry Bottom?
Wait – there are two kinds?
The best description I’ve seen of the “dry bottom shoofly pie” is that it’s a firm molasses cake, much like coffeecake, and intended to be dipped in coffee. Do people really dip cake/pie in coffee? I think any cake would leave a lot of crumbs, and even the dry-bottom version of this pie has lots of crumbs.
A Wet-bottom shoofly pie, though, is more of a thick molasses custard. No dipping possible – you need a fork for this one.
Did you know? In places where sugar cane does not grow, they traditionally made this with cider molasses.
How Do You Store Shoofly Pie?
The best way to store Shoofly Pie is to eat it all.
But if you have more self-control than I do, or you want to make it ahead of time, you can keep it at room temperature or in the fridge.
Just make sure to let it cool completely before you cover it with plastic wrap or beeswax wrap, or put it under a cake dome. It will stay fresh for up to three days at room temperature, or up to a week in the fridge.
To freeze, wrap the pie tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and place it in a freezer-safe bag or container. Label and freeze for up to three months.
To thaw, let it sit in the fridge overnight or a few hours at room temperature. Then, if you like it warm, reheat in the oven at 350F for 10-15 minutes or in the microwave for a few seconds.
Make It a Meal
One of the great things about Shoofly Pie is that we serve it at many times of the day, so whatever meal you enjoy it, here are menus:
- Scrambled eggs
- Mennonite Shoofly Pie
- Grilled cheese sandwich
- Instant Pot Tomato Basil Soup
- Mennonite Shoofly Pie
- Beausoleil, Marie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 294 Pages – 06/18/2018 (Publication Date) -…
Nutrition Facts Per 1/8 of pie (125 g)
Amount % Daily Value*
Fat 14 g 22 %
Saturated 7 g + Trans 0.3 g 38 %
Cholesterol 40 mg
Sodium 240 mg 10 %
Carbohydrate 64 g 21 %
Fibre 1 g 4 %
Sugars 43 g
Protein 4 g
Vitamin A 6 %
Vitamin C 0 %
Calcium 8 %
Iron 15 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Shoofly pie is a source of iron (provides at least 5% DV of iron per serving) and it is low sodium (contains less than or equal to 140 mg of sodium per serving)