American Pie: Shoo Fly for Valentine’s Day


“Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Can she bake a cherry pie, Charming Billy?”
Traditional American Folk Song

I do not have the Pie Gift, which is daunting since I married into a family with generations of excellent pie makers. The Pie Gift, as I see it, is having a knack with pie crust. Fillings are easy to concoct, but what’s a pie without a crust? When you have a husband who loves pie but you lack the Pie Gift, you have a problem. My solution for over ten years has been to run to Der Dutchman in Plain City or even to buy a grocery store pie baby that serves one, because guess what? I don’t really like pie.

Enter Sherry Gore and her delightfully titled Me, Myself, and Pie. Sherry, who says she “eats well with others,” is a resident of Pinecraft, the Florida Amish vacation hotspot that I blogged about last month. Yes, Sherry knows her way around a pie, all right, but could she help a hopeless case like me?

I am an economical cook, so I flipped to recipes with ingredients I already had on hand. Imagine my delight to find that Shoofly Pie’s invention may have derived from thrifty Pennsylvania Dutch farm wives having only flour, lard, and molasses on hand by late winter. I had molasses and the other ingredients (shortening, not lard!) in my kitchen.

Once the pie was selected, I chose Sue’s Single Pastry Crust (which inexplicably makes three crusts, but that’s another story). Shortening, flour, salt, and cold water. How hard could it be?

As it turns out, assembling the crust wasn’t difficult at all. When the dough ball went into the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes, I hadn’t cracked a sweat. I tackled the filling with aplomb, musing about the weird name. Truth is, no one really knows how Shoo Fly originated. My theory is that the character with the long nose in my title photo is Shoofly himself, but I digress.

When I tried to roll the crust up on the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie plate, it stuck to the counter. I pried it up, rerolled briefly—stuck again. I finally picked up the dough fragments and patted them to the plate with my fingertips. It looked fine, but sweat was pouring down my back at this point. If you’re crust-impaired like me, my advice is to buy a prepared pie crust for your first try. Sherry’s book is wonderful and funny and I plan to practice until I get the crust right.


Shoo Fly Pie
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 9-inch unbaked pastry pie crust (set aside)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup hot water (I heated water and let it cool a bit before measuring)
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • Whipped cream for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, and butter with a fork until crumbly.
  3. Measure out half this crumb mixture and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
  5. Add molasses and egg, then stir in half the crumbs.
  6. Pour mixture into unbaked pie crust.
  7. Top with remaining crumbs, sprinkled evenly.
  8. (NOTE FROM STEF: Bake your pie on a cookie sheet or a pizza pan, like in the photo. My filling runneth’ed over, but the pizza pan saved me from a gooey mess).
  9. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes.
  10. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and continue baking for an additional 30 minutes.
  11. Serve with whipped cream, if desired (and you do).


Did my husband like this pie? No, but he did like the crust, and remember those other two crusts the recipe made? I made apple dumplings with them. Sort of. I was unable to wrap the apples up in the dough, so I laid three small crusts on the bottom, spooned in apples and syrup, and laid three small crusts on the top. Delicious! My husband’s eyes nearly rolled back in his head for pure joy. What’s with men and crust?

Shoofly pie is an acquired taste, but it’s the number one Amish pie and I have now acquired the taste. If you love gingerbread, you will love Shoofly pie. Happy Valentine’s Day baking!


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Stephanie Reed (17 Posts)

Stephanie Reed lives on the outskirts of Plain City, Ohio, site of a once-thriving Amish community. She gleans ideas for her novels from signs glimpsed along the byways of Ohio. Her previous books are "Across the Wide River" and "The Light Across the River." Her Amish novels include "The Bargain" (Plain City Peace, Book One) and "The Bachelor" (Plain City Peace, Book Two), available October 2014


  1. Hi Stephanie. How are you this month. First let me say that I finally got to make your Easy chicken pot pie recipe that you shared with us a few month ago. Delicious and yes easy to make thanks to your good directions with spooning in the runny Bisquick mixture. Turned out great.
    Stephanie I make my own crust. I thought the way you made yours was cute. Where there’s a will there’s a way. You proved that. Let me ask. Did the crust come out of the pie plate after it was cooked or did it all break up on you?
    When I roll out crust to keep it from sticking to the counter I usually sprinkle a little water down on the counter. Not too much. Just a little. Then next I put down waxed paper. Just enough for a little over the 9″ crust size. You will need to use 2 sheets of waxed paper and over lap edges.I put plenty of flower on the waxed paper. Also I flour the rolling pin because if I don’t the doe sticks to it. After rolling out doe I then can use my pie plate to see if I have rolled the crust enough to fit in the plate. Then I lift up waxed paper and doe from counter. No sticking to counter. I flip waxed paper over so doe is facing plate. Then try to get the doe even with plate. Place doe in plate and remove waxed paper and with your fingers work out any air by pressing to sides of plate. If you have some places where there’s tears or not enough doe you can patch it up with what you have cut off the crust as it over lapped the plate. Use a little water to make patching doe stick to crust and gently rub the two together. You can brush the crimped edge of the doe with milk, before putting pie in oven to keep it from burning. Sounds like a lot. But over time it will become easier with practice. Bear in mind a crust never turns out the same each time.
    Hope I have helped.

  2. Hi, Shirley! Nice to talk with you again. Thanks for sharing all your pie baking secrets! I need to know stuff like “sprinkle water on counter to keep waxed paper from slipping” and “use LOTS of flour.” I also read that you can use a pastry brush to whisk away excess flour from the crust when you’re done rolling it out. DUH! But things like these never occurred to me, so thank you SO MUCH for spelling it out! I guess the thing I need to remember is If at first you don’t succeed, PIE, PIE AGAIN! Heehee. No, the crust didn’t crumble on me! I was able to cut out nice triangles of pie because Shoofly is so sticky. It’s called wet-bottom pie for a reason! Thanks so much for stopping by every month, Shirley! I love hearing from you. 🙂 <3

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