By Kevin Williams
Shoofly pie is synonymous with the Amish culture, fair or unfairly. The food history of shoofly and the Amish is traced wonderfully in William Woys Weavers book, As American As Shoofly Pie, about "foodlore" and Pennsylvania Dutch culinary history. We can debate the history of the pie another time, or read that book, either way shoofly has a special place in my heart and memory bank.
With the arrival of spring, my early Amish memories drift to Shoofly Pie. I used to see this pie served more in Amish kitchens than I do now, I think it is more popular with old-timers. Younger Amish, who perhaps are a bit more health conscious, tend to favor fruit pies.
But in my early years visiting Amish communities I saw my share of shoofly pies sitting on window sills cooling. Of course seeing a lot of flies buzzing around them didn't maybe make them at the top of my list. But here is a classic recipe for shoofly pie and some other "cool pie" for the summer. These are the light, not too heavy pies, that many Amish cooks favor during the summer (mock lemon, anyone?)
- 1 9-inch pie crust (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 cup molasses
- ⅔ cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3½cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup shortening, softened
- Dash of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, combine the molasses, boiling water, and baking soda.
- Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell.
- To make the topping: In a large bowl, mix the flour with the sugar, shortening, and salt.
- Spread this on top of the molasses mixture in the pie shell.
- Bake until the center of the pie is set, about 45 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack or windowsill until the pie is firm, about 45 minutes.
- Store any leftovers in a sealed cake safe.
- The pie will keep for about 5 days.
While on the topic of pies, I saw a "Chess Pie" at a bakery in Cincinnati, Ohio the other week. Chess pie isn't something you see in a lot of Amish communities (although pies like it are popular). Chess is more of a southern staple. It was a recipe favored by Shakers in southern communities and is still served on the menu today at Shakertown in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.
- ½ c. melted butter
- 1½ c. sugar
- 1½ tsp. cornmeal
- 1½ tsp. vinegar
- 3 eggs
- Mix sugar and meal.
- Add eggs and vinegar.
- Pour into unbaked pie shell. Start baking at 400 degrees
- When it begins to brown, turn down to 300 degrees.
- Bake until set in center.
Amish pies in the same tradition and style as Chess Pie include the following: