What is Wet Bottom Shoo-fly Pie?
This Amish wet bottom shoofly pie recipe is a traditional Amish breakfast pie similar to a coffee cake. It has a gooey molasses layer on the bottom and a cake-like center with a crumb topping. And all of that perfection is encased in a flaky pie crust.
Wet bottom shoofly pie is perfect with a cup of coffee! It is served in many Amish homes as a dessert with breakfast.
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 with 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) 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 do serve wet bottom shoofly 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 pie.
Do the Amish eat healthy food? (Wet bottom molasses crumb pie)
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 that thought he always needed a little something sweet after his meal. He didn't eat a big serving, but he 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.
How to Make Authentic Lancaster County Shoofly Pie
To make this PA Dutch wet bottom shoofly pie, start with the wet ingredients. Bring water to boiling, remove from the heat, and add baking soda to the water. Set aside.
Put eggs and brown sugar in a mixing bowl, and mix well till it's creamy looking. Add the molasses and water mixture. Mix and set it aside to cool a bit.
For the crumb mixture: Mix flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Add shortening or butter slices. Crumble with a pastry blender, or you can use your mixer with the paddle attachment.
Now mix 1 1/3 cups of the crumbs into the wet molasses mixture. And reserve the remaining crumbs to sprinkle over the top.
This recipe makes 2 - 9" pies. So you will need 2 unbaked pie crusts. (Click here for my crust recipe)
Divide the wet batter between your two pies and cover with the reserved crumbs. Then bake immediately.
Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for an additional 35 - 45 minutes.
This 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.
Molasses for Amish Shoofly Pie
I hope you like the taste of molasses because this wet-bottom PA Dutch shoofly pie has a delightfully fantastic molasses flavor.
For this recipe, I substituted some Karo for molasses because I don't have any light-tasting molasses right now. But if I wanted to make it with just molasses, I would get a light-tasting kind.
There is a big difference in molasses. Some brands have a lot stronger flavor than others and are more 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 Pennsylvania. And it's easier to find good molasses in PA than here in Missouri. But I can always buy it online, and sometimes I can find it at bulk food stores.
King Syrup is another very light-tasting syrup that can be used in shoofly pie. Although King Syrup doesn't have much of a molasses flavor. So I often use only a bit of King Syrup mixed with molasses.
But, if you don't care for molasses, you could make this pie using only King Syrup or Karo instead of molasses, although that would not really be a traditional molasses shoo-fly pie.
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.
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More Amish Recipes you may want to try...
Amish Wet Bottom Shoofly Pie
- 2 (8 or 9") unbaked pie crusts
- 1/3 c. brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 c. light-tasting molasses (Golden Barrel unsulphered baking molasses and King Syrup are some of the best)
- 1 c. boiling water
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 2 c. all purpose flour
- 3/4 c. brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/2 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, 3 large eggs, 1 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 c. boiling water, 3/4 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.2 c. all purpose flour, 3/4 c. brown sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar, 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- Add shortening of choice. Using a pastry blender or your mixer, mix until you have fine crumbs.1/2 c. lard, shortening, or butter
To Make the Pie:
- Add 1 1/3 cups of the crumbs to the wet molasses mixture. Then divide the wet batter between the two pie crusts.
- Cover with the reserved crumb mixture (try to get all the edges covered as well).
- Bake at 425° for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° and continue baking for another 35 - 45 minutes.
- Cool and store, loosely covered, at room temperature. You can also wrap and freeze one pie for later.
- This recipe was edited in April 2023.
This pie was delicious. My first attempt my crumbs sank made more of a cake like pie. I used a syrup often used. Next try was better with half syrup and molasses. This resulted in a thin wet bottom.
Third try was a charm. I used all golden barrel baking molasses.
Maybe the best shoo fly pie I’ve ever had. 1/2 wet bottom, 1/4 cake like layer and 1/4 crumbs. I used your pie crust recipe using all butter also really lovely. Thanks for the wonderful recipe. Now to try your lemon sponge pie!
Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I also recently updated my recipe, maybe that's what made the difference?? I kept working on the recipe to perfect it with more wet bottom. Glad it worked for you!
A friend of mine gave me a recipe for Amish apple pie, which I have since e lost. It had 1/2 pt whipping cream poured over the apples, under the crumb crust. I would love to have this recipe again.
This is my recipe that I love. https://amish-heritage.org/amish-dutch-apple-pie-recipe-with-crumb-topping/
And I don't have any recipes that have a 1/2 pt. of heavy cream. But maybe this is close to what you are looking for.??
Mix 4 c. diced apples, 2/3 c. sugar, 1 Tbsp. flour, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/2 c. cream. Put in pie shell and cover with crumbs.
Oh. My. Goodness!!! My grandmother was a Missouri native (St. Charles, Jefferson City area - Ozards), and this was THE. THING!!!
We had this ALL THE TIME - it was EXACTLY this. Isn't it funny how things pop up in different parts of the country? I volunteered in Appalachia for a season, and they ALSO had THIS. SAME. PIE. And then, in Chicago, I went to the Berghoff Restaurant, years ago, and here it was, again: This. Same. Pie!!!
Interesting, though, how German immigrants to Chicago, to Appalachia, and in your area have brought this recipe. I have ZERO thoughts as to how the Irish/Scots-Irish came to have it in the rural Ozark mountains unless it was brought to the area from, say, New York or Chicago where many immigrant families mingle... But IT IS DELICIOUS - but, oh, my goodness - have a glass of milk, coffee, etc., because it'll make your teeth itch, it's so sweet... and I mean that in the best, most indulgent-possible way!!! lol
I'm so glad I found your blog! Having grownup near Lancaster, now living in KY, I've missed these great foods so much. Especially this Shoo-fly pie! I can't wait to make one.
Glad to have you here!
I only have grandma's brand molasses. Will that work or do I need some Karo too?
I haven't tried Grandma's brand in a while. But if I remember correctly, it is lighter-tasting molasses. And it should be fine to use only that, especially if you enjoy molasses.
I love the way you write and share your niche! Very interesting and different! Keep it coming! Putlocker
Thank you so much for this recipe! It really takes me back home. Lived near Lancaster and live in Fl now. People look at me crazy when I say shoofly pie too.
I did not bake the pie yet, but I'm glad you cleared up the extra wet mixture. The last time I made this was 50 yrs ago. I will be making it for Thanksgiving.
recipe for amish wet bottom shoofly pie and cake
Benjamin C Harman
Oh my gosh, this is the BEST SHOOFLY PIE RECIPE EVER!!!
I grew up in a small town near Shipshewana, which is a major Amish center, so even though I'm not Amish, I went to school with dozens and dozens of Amish kids, and the whole time growing up, at different school functions and whatnot, I frequently ate shoofly pie because that'd be what they brought in or what kids/parents who used to be Amish would bring in. I even remember that Mrs. Troyer, who taught 7th grade home-ec, showed us how to make it in class once and then had us make it ourselves. Well, I eventually graduated, went to college, and then after college, I moved to another part of the country where there aren't any Amish people, so for going on two decades now, I've been hankering to have me some shoofly pie, what with it not being ubiquitously around like it was for me growing up and me not knowing/remembering how to make it, despite Mrs. Troyer's best efforts (Sorry, Mrs. Troyer). I've tried bakeries galore, even a specialty boutique pie shop near me, but everywhere I've gone, they've all looked at me with the same clueless and bewildered expression the moment I utter the words "shoofly pie," like I'm speaking some foreign language.
So, a few years ago, I began a quest to find a recipe online. I found many, but none were right, some came close but not quite close enough. That was until I came upon this one! This is EXACTLY IT! What's more, the pie that comes about as a result is absolutely gorgeous, extremely impressive. When my guests saw it, they just oohed and ahead, it making me look like some world-class baker, which I most certainly am not. What's more, it totally delivered in flavor, texture, and gastronomy everything its impressive gorgeousness advertised and more, cutting through three visibly distinct layers of texture, not including the crust itself, the flavor of molasses comes on at first so mildly it's barely detectable in that first bite but then builds with every bite into an extremely rich and unmistakable yet not at all overpowering molasses flavor (Note: I ordered via the Amazon link in this recipe article the Golden Barrel Unsulfered Molasses the author recommends in the text of the article, even though I actually had Grandma's on hand, which appears below the article as an alternative, just because I wanted it to turn out like how the author actually makes it). Absolute perfection! I was bowled over. So were my guests. What's more, unlike every other shoofly pie recipe I've tried, it was exactly and totally authentic to the Amish-made shoofly pie I had growing up, for while some of those other recipes were close, none of them quite hit the mark, none of them did what this recipe did, everything about it bringing back this rush of memories and nostalgia from when I was a kid, from school bake sales, classroom parties, church potlucks, etc. SO THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! This recipe is exceptional, because the pie you get from following it is BEYOND EXCEPTIONAL!
This recipe is-- A GIFT!!!! AMAZING!!! Or should I say AMishAZING?!?!?!
I am so glad the pie turned out to be what you are looking for! I'm always glad to hear that people enjoy my recipes.
I grew up in Pottstown, PA, about 30 minutes from Lancaster. My father would buy shoo fly pie from a bakery in Zern’s Farmers Market in Boyertown,PA. ( no longer there).
Is it necessary to use cream of tartar in the recipe( I don’t usually have a need for it)? Is there a substitute ingredient for cream of tartar that I could use?
It should turn out OK without it, but you could also use a bit of baking powder in its place.
I think this is one of the best reviews of a recipe I have seen. Thank you for sharing your journey with food. I look forward to trying tasting this as it sits in the oven, filling the house with the sweet molasses scent.
Awesome! Let me know how it turned out.