What dessert do you think of when you think of the Amish? This shoofly pie recipe should be right at the top of your list! It’s a traditional Amish recipe that takes just a few simple ingredients, with a bold, molasses flavor.
When I think of making something from nothing, invariably, I start thinking about shoofly pie, because the main ingredient? It’s water. This is the kind of dessert you make when you don’t have any money to spend on groceries. This was especially true for us, living in a small amish community, where we grew our own (sorghum) molasses. That was one of the few ingredients we had in abundance that most people might not keep in their pantry.
But don’t think that just because it’s a frugal recipe doesn’t mean it’s not tasty! If it was, do you really think shoofly pie recipes would be handed down from generation to generation all these years?
Legend has it that shoofly pie originated as a molasses crumb cake – no crust in other words. It’s also related to the treacle tart.
Traditionally, it’s not served as a dessert pie so much, but as a breakfast food with coffee. This tracks with my experience – as I mentioned in my sweet potato pie recipe, any dessert can be breakfast as long as it’s sweetened with molasses. ????
That’s not something I adhere to personally, but it’s definitely the way I was raised.
Now, even though I was raised in middle Tennessee, where our big social event of the year was coming together as a community in September and October to harvest our sorghum cane and make molasses together, today I live in an area where finding molasses in a store is a little more tricky. In fact, if I want it, I have to order it (or get it while I’m visiting Tennessee).
So, for those of us with less access to traditional ingredients, I’ve worked up a substitute: Amber agave.
I use amber (darker) agave to try to achieve the same color as a traditional shoofly pie, but as you can see from the pictures, it’s still quite a bit lighter. The flavor is also not quite as bold since agave has a much milder taste.
That said, it does make a mighty good substitute for when you want a shoofly pie, but don’t have any molasses.
Shoofly Pie Recipe
A few things you need to know about making shoofly pie:
- The filling is very watery. You may think you’ve done something wrong as you pour your very watery molasses mixture into the pie shell, but you didn’t! it’s just that watery.
- The crumb mixture seems excessive, but that’s part of the pie.
- Your pie will set up as it bakes. The excessive amount of crumb mixture soaks into the overly watery pie filling, and thickens it. It all works out in the end!
- Ideally, you would still have an even layer of crumb over the pie, but that’s a little harder to achieve. Just do your best to layer it on evenly.
- This is a very easy recipe to make either gluten-free or not – just use a high quality gluten-free flour mix in your crumb topping, and a gluten-free pie shell.
Shoofly Pie Recipe
- 1 9” pie shell
- 1 cup of molasses (or agave if you don’t have access to molasses)
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 1/2 cups of flour (all purpose, or gluten-free)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup butter
- preheat oven to 350º
- In a medium bowl, or food processor, combine flour and brown sugar
- But in butter until mixture resembles bread crumbs (this is easy to do by pulsing your food processor)
- Set aside
- In another medium blow, combine molasses, hot water, and baking soda. Stir well
- Whisk in beaten egg
- Pour into pie shell
- Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over the top
- Place pie in the center of a jelly roll pan or rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips that happen while baking
- Bake in center of oven for 45 minutes. When the pie is done, it will no longer be watery, but may still jiggle slightly in the middle. Don’t worry! It will set up as it cools
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