What is Wet Bottom Shoo-fly Pie?
Discover the charm of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking with the famous Amish wet-bottom shoofly pie.
This simple yet delightful creation features three distinct layers: a lusciously gooey molasses bottom, and a middle layer boasting a cake-like consistency, crowned with a lovely crumbly topping. All of this perfection is wrapped up in a flaky pie crust.
Originating from southeastern Pennsylvania, this classic recipe uses simple ingredients like molasses and eggs for a delicious, homemade flavor. Simply bake it until golden brown, and there you have it - a beautiful authentic shoofly pie ready to enjoy!
Wet bottom shoofly pie is a traditional Amish breakfast pie that's served with breakfast in many Amish homes. Similar to coffee cake, it is perfect with a cup of coffee!
History of the PA Dutch Shoo-fly Pie
One intriguing aspect of the shoo-fly pie is its history. Where did it come from, and how did it get that disgusting name?
Shoo-fly pie seems to have its roots in the Pennsylvania Dutch. Some think its invention was due to Dutch housewives making do with what was left in the larder in late winter - namely flour, lard, and molasses.
According to one historian, shoo-fly pie started as a crustless molasses cake or Centennial cake. It was baked in 1876 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
I don't think anyone knows for sure where it came from, but its history with the Amish goes back at least as far as the 1800s.
And it has a rather unusual name that is presumed by some to come from the fact that pools of sweet, sticky molasses sometimes formed on the top of the pie while it was cooling, inevitably attracting flies. Thus "Shoo-fly!" pie was named.
Shoofly Pie (Wet Bottom-Style) is Popular in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
I grew up in the Lancaster County area, in the heart of Amish country. If you visit any Amish bakery in that area they will most likely have Shoofly pie on the shelf, as this pie is quite famous there.
We did not very often eat dessert with breakfast at our house. But I know that many Amish families serve this old-fashioned pie for breakfast quite regularly.
My aunt made shoofly pie every week because my uncle didn't think his breakfast was complete without a slice of molasses pie.
Do the Amish Eat Healthy Food?
I used to think that we ate fairly healthy, but looking back I'm not sure if we did.??
The Amish grow a lot of their own food, making it more organic. And they cook and bake from scratch, so there are no preservatives and not a bunch of processed food. So I guess they eat healthier than a lot of people do.
But we did eat a lot of carbs. We often ate bread, potatoes, and corn in the same meal, along with meat, a salad, and a dessert to finish it off. And sometimes we'd even add buttered noodles to the meal yet too. So you're looking at four different carbs plus dessert. And we always had dessert, except for breakfast.
We grew and froze a lot of sweet corn, and it seemed to be everyone's favorite vegetable. So we ate a lot of corn.
And the Amish love their baked goods. My dad was the one in our house who thought he always needed a little something sweet after his meal. He didn't eat a big serving but wanted at least a small piece of cake or pie. So we always had dessert in the house.
And I don't know if this sounds like a very healthy diet. But sadly, I still have a sweet tooth. And one of my hobbies is baking. Therefore, it's a constant struggle for me to leave the sweets alone. And I love wet bottom molasses crumb pie with its rich flavor and gooey bottom layer.
How to Make Authentic Lancaster County Amish Shoofly Pie with a Wet Bottom
To make this authentic PA Dutch wet bottom shoofly pie, start with the wet ingredients. Begin by bringing water to a boil, then remove it from the heat and stir in baking soda. Set this mixture aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine eggs and brown sugar and mix well until it achieves a creamy texture. Now add the molasses and water-soda mixture. Mix and set it aside to cool a bit before assembling your wet bottom pie.
For the irresistible crumb mixture, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Add shortening or butter slices and then crumble it with a pastry blender, or let your mixer with the paddle attachment do the work. Either way, you're on your way to creating the beautiful layers of your shoofly pie.
Now blend 2 cups of the crumbs into the wet molasses mixture. Reserve the remaining crumbs to sprinkle over the top.
Remember that this fantastic recipe yields 2 delightful 9-inch pies, so make sure you have 2 unbaked pie crusts ready to go. (Click here for my flaky crust recipe)
Divide the wet batter between your two pies and quickly cover them with the reserved crumbs. Now it's time to pop them into the oven and let the magic happen.
Place one of your oven racks just below the middle of the oven and bake your pies at 425 degrees F. for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for an additional 40 - 50 minutes or until set.
Shoofly pie does not need to be refrigerated. I store mine in the pantry or on the countertop covered with a tea towel. But if you make two and don't have enough people to help you eat it quickly, you can wrap and freeze one to keep it fresh.
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Molasses for Amish Shoofly Pie
If you're a fan of the rich taste of molasses, then you're in for a treat with this wet-bottom PA Dutch shoofly pie, showcasing a delightfully fantastic molasses flavor.
It's worth noting though that there is a big difference in molasses. Some brands pack a stronger punch and can be a tad bitter.
One of my favorite kinds of molasses for making shoofly pie is Golden Barrel unsulphered baking molasses. (I grew up close to the Golden Barrel plant in Honey Brook, PA.) So while it's easier to find good molasses in PA than in Missouri, I can usually find it at bulk food stores, or I buy it on Amazon.
When purchasing molasses for shoofly pie, make sure that you don't end up with blackstrap molasses unless you want a deep, robust, and intense flavor of molasses. There's a big difference between blackstrap and baking molasses. Baking molasses has a milder, sweeter flavor.
Another option with a lighter taste is King Syrup, a viable substitute for shoofly pie. Though it lacks a robust molasses flavor, I often blend a bit of King Syrup with baking molasses for a lighter flavor.
Now, if molasses isn't your thing, you can still whip up this pie using only King Syrup or Karo corn syrup, although it won't quite be the traditional molasses shoofly pie. The choice is yours!
This is the best Amish wet bottom shoofly pie recipe from Lancaster, PA! It's good Amish food! And if you try this recipe, I would love it if you left me a comment and star rating below.
Amish Wet Bottom Shoofly Pie
- 2 (9") unbaked pie crusts
- 1/3 c. brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 c. light-tasting molasses (Golden Barrel unsulphered baking molasses and King Syrup are some of the best)
- 1 1/2 c. boiling water
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3 c. all purpose flour
- 3/4 - 1 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
- 3/4 c. lard, shortening, or butter
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Add brown sugar and eggs to a mixing bowl and beat well. Add molasses.1/3 c. brown sugar, 4 large eggs, 1 1/2 c. light-tasting molasses (Golden Barrel unsulphered baking molasses and King Syrup are some of the best)
- Bring water to boiling, remove from heat and add the baking soda. Stir.1 1/2 c. boiling water, 1 tsp. baking soda
- Add soda/water mixture to the egg mixture. Mix.
- Let this mixture cool a bit while you prepare the crumb mixture.
- Mix flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, & cream of tartar in a mixing bowl.3 c. all purpose flour, 3/4 - 1 c. brown sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar, 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- Add shortening of choice. Using a pastry blender or your mixer, mix until you have fine crumbs.3/4 c. lard, shortening, or butter
To Make the Pie:
- Add a scant 2 cups of the crumbs to the wet molasses mixture. Then divide the wet batter between the two pie crusts.
- Quickly cover with the reserved crumb mixture (try to get all the edges covered as well).
- Bake immediately, at 425° for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° and continue baking for another 40 - 50 minutes or until the pie is set and not too jiggly.
- Cool and store, loosely covered, at room temperature. You can also wrap and freeze one pie for later.
- This recipe was edited in 2023.