Monday, October 7, 2013

Shoofly Pie

Growing up in Iowa, I never once heard of Shoofly Pie.  But it is one of my "MUST EAT" items whenever we visit John's family in Pennsylvania.

Here's what the internet has to say about Shoofly Pie:

Visit the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania and indulge in a Pennsylvania Dutch original, the Shoofly Pie. Also know as Shoo-Fly Pie, and Shoo Fly Pie. First time visitors to the area always comment on this pie and its strange name. Most of the area restaurants and bakeries sell this favorite pie. The pie is more like a coffee cake, with a gooey molasses bottom. 
Pennsylvania Dutch cooking is indigenous to those areas of southeastern Pennsylvania that were settled by the Mennonites and Amish. William Penn (1644-1718), founder of Pennsylvania, was seeking colonists for the Pennsylvania area. The Amish and Mennonites both settled in Pennsylvania as part of William Penn's "holy experiment" of religious tolerance. The first sizeable group arrived in America around 1730 and settled near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

These settlers were addicted to pies of all types and they ate them at any time of day. The most famous of their pies is the shoofly pie. As the very earliest settlers came to North America by boat, they brought with them the staples of their diet - long-lasting nonperishable that would survive a long boat trip. These staples were flour, brown sugar, molasses, lard, salt, and spices. Arriving in the new land during late fall, they had to live pretty much on what they had brought with them until the next growing season. The women, being master of the art of "making do," concocted a pie from the limited selection that could be found in the larder. This resourcefulness led to the creation of shoofly pie.

The origin of the name has been debated for years and will probably never ultimately be solved. The most logical explanation is related to the fact that during the early years of our country, all baking was done in big outdoor ovens. The fact that pools of sweet, sticky molasses sometimes formed on the surface of the pie while it was cooling, invariably attracting flies, show how such a pie could come to be called shoofly pie.

Pastry for 9-inch one crust pie
3 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening or butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup hot water
1 cup dark molasses
1 egg


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Prepare pie pastry. Using a floured rolling pin, roll pastry 2 inches larger than an inverted pie plate. Fold pastry into quarter folds and ease into pie plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side; set aside.
Dry:  In a large bowl, using a pastry blender or two knives, cut shortening or butter into flour, brown sugar, and salt until mixture is the size of small peas; set aside.

Wet:  In a large bowl, add baking soda and hot water; stir until baking soda is dissolved. Add molasses and egg; beat until well blended.

Pour wet into prepared unbaked pie shell, filling half full (you may not need to use all of the filling - if you overfill the shell, it will overflow during baking). Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1/2 inch from rim of plate.

Gently sprinkle dry mixture evenly over top of the wet (crumbs will both partly sink and partly float).
Bake 10 minutes and then reduce oven to 350 degrees F. Bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

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