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.
Authentic Lancaster County Shoofly Pie
3/4 cup sorghum molasses (can substitute regular molasses)
3⁄4 cup boiling water
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1⁄2 cups flour
1⁄4 cup shortening or 1⁄4 cup butter
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
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 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.
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.