This is a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch desert. The name comes from the legend that, when you set the finished pie on the windowsill to cool, you must remain there shooing away the flies that swarm it.
This version comes from the Neffsville Mennonite Cookbook, which was compiled by the Women’s Missionary and Service Commission of said church, in Lancaster, Pa. There are three shoo-fly pies in the cookbook, but this one’s so good I haven’t bother to try the other two . . . .
I’ve had this cookbook for 35 or 40 years. Many years ago, when I worked for Amtrak, we held residential (meaning that the trainees stayed over for several days at the training site) training classes at various hotels in the Lancaster area, as Lancaster was central in the terms of Amtrak geography, convenient to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Chicago. Shoo-fly pie became one of my favorites.
When I was purchasing the frozen pie shells (making your own pie crust is not worth the effort), I mentioned that I was planning to bake shoo-fly pies. The lady behind me in the check out asked, “What’s in it?” I said, “Sugar.”
Frequently, if someone has never had it, he or she is told, “Imagine pecan pie without the pecans.” Frankly, that is a comparison of desperation, because there really isn’t anything else quite like it.
1 1/2 cps. flour
1/2 cp. sugar
1/2 light brown sugar (I prefer dark brown)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cp. butter
1/3 cp. molasses
1/3 cp. maple syrup
3/4 cp. water
1 tsp. baking soda
1 pie shell
1. Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in the butter (it’s best to let the butter soften for an hour so before using it.)
2. In a separate mixing bowl, combine molasses, maple syrup, and baking soda.
3. Bring water to a boil and add to the liquid ingredients from step 2. Mix well.
4. Add approximately half of the mixture from step 1 to the liquid ingredients. Mix well.
5. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. It’s best to put the pie pan on a baking sheet before doing this in case of spills.
6. Sprinkle the remaining dry ingredients on the top of the pie.
7. Bake at 375 Fahrenheits for for 40 minutes. Again, it’s best to keep the pie on the baking sheet in case of spills or overflows.
I made two of these for a community dinner last weekend and they went over very nicely, thank you very much.