Authentic Lancaster County Shoofly Pie

How did this pie get its name? Find out!

You are sitting at a restaurant, reading the dessert menu. There’s Cherry Pie, Apple Pie, and Shoofly Pie.

Huh? Shoofly Pie?  What’s that?

According to pie history, Shoofly Pie is an early American pie dating back to the early 1700s. Made by the Pennsylvania Dutch colonists, this dessert pie—a gooey molasses-based confection—was often baked in outdoor ovens and placed on windowsills to cool. Understandably, the sweet aroma of the pie would attract a large number of flies, causing bakers to shoo them away while the pies were cooling. The pie was a classic example of concoctions that “made do” with the available ingredients.

This pie remains famous to this day, although other historic pies haven’t fared so well.

Shoofly Pie Recipe

Authentic Lancaster County Shoofly Pie

Farmers’ Almanac Staff
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 3⁄4 cup boiling water
  • 1⁄2 tsp baking soda
  • 3⁄4 cup molasses
  • 1⁄2  cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1⁄2 cup shortening
  • 1⁄4 cup butter
  • 1 (9 inch) single crust pie pastry dough


  • Dissolve baking soda in hot water and add molasses.
  • In a separate bowl, combine sugar and flour and rub in shortening and butter to make crumbs.
  • Pour 1/3 of the liquid into an unbaked crust. Add 1/3 of the crumb mixture. Continue alternating layers, ending with crumbs on top.
  • Bake at 375º F for approximately 35 minutes.
Keyword shoofly pie recipe

Facts About Pies

Here are a few historical facts about pies:

  • The first pies were not desserts at all but were filled with meat. Pyes was the original spelling, dating back to twelfth-century England.
  • The crust portion of the pie was called the coffyn. It was made thicker than the meat filling it held, and it was made from flour, suet, and boiling water.
  • The meat in these pyes was from various fowl, positioning the legs to hang over the side of the dish when baked. The legs served as handles for easy removal and eating of the pye.
  • The fruit pie is thought to have first been made during the 1500s. However, there is evidence that pies containing figs and dates were baked for the Egyptian Pharaohs.
  • Queen Elizabeth I is credited with inventing the cherry pie.
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Butter is listed in the ingredients. But there are no instructions on when to add it?

Amye Ruth Ranck

question in the above recipe it says to add the flour sugar and combine with the shortening but how much flour do we use?? i dont see it at all in ingredients but there is also butter and shortening . I wondered which one should actually be the flour? i would like to try this recipe thanks.

Susan Higgins

Our apologies, Amye Ruth, it seems the flour was omitted from the recipe but we have fixed it – 1 and 1/2 cups of flour should be added.

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