Gluten-Free Shoofly Pie: back to the old days; slower than molasses

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The grand rush of calls are pouring in on our King Arthur Flour baker’s hotline, and everyone’s playing with pie crust this time of year. They want to freeze it, fill it, parbake it and roll it without it tearing. Sometimes folks just want to throw it against the wall because pie crust can be a pain and there’s so much to do and just not enough TIME!

When my mom needed me to hurry, she would say, “You’re slower than molasses in January!”

Time. Always competing with us, especially at the holidays. Do we linger over the stove, or play with our families? Do we slave over the cleanup, or leave the mess so we can mingle? I vote for the latter in both situations.

Holiday traditions, when it comes to food, seem more inflexible as time passes – like grandpa’s old habits or the well-loved but ugly chair with rotten upholstery that survives every living room redecoration. We thrive on comfort and familiarity because it’s hard to embrace change.

The holiday pie menu is always the same old story, right? Pumpkin, apple, pecan, mincemeat. Been there. Done that (even when I’d rather have not).

Are you bored with your annual Thanksgiving tarts but too intimidated to throw something new on the festive table? Is that nagging spouse bullying you into making the same sweet potato marshmallow pie every year? I’m here to offer you a way out of your routine pie-making rut! It’s an easy recipe that will leave you plenty of time to celebrate with your loved ones.

During the 18th century, when life was slower and simpler, Lancaster, Pennsylvania settled the first large group of Mennonites and Amish, along with a few affordable staple foods – molasses being one among them.

From this sticky sweet sugar, and a few other humble ingredients, the settlers created a now legendary Pennsylvania-Dutch favorite, shoofly pie, named for its ability to attract flies while sitting to cool in the windowsill.

Easy? Yes! Gluten-free? Uh-huh. And what’s even better? There are only a few simple ingredients to make this rich, gluten-free dessert. It’s an all-in-one pie and coffeecake stick-to-your-fork treat!  I hope you’ll read on and add this one to your repertoire.

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You can begin by preheating your oven to 375°F and lightly greasing a 9″ pie plate.

To make the crust crumbs, combine the following ingredients in a medium-sized bowl:

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Add 1/3 cup soft butter.

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With two forks or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour mixture until you have coarse crumbs.

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Line your 9″ pie plate with 2 cups of the crumb mixture, starting with the bottom.

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Push the crumbs evenly up the sides of the pan to the top edge. Reserve the remainder of the crumbs for the top of the pie.

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Bring about 1 cup of water to a boil; you’ll only need 3/4 cup, but some will evaporate.

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While waiting for the water to boil, mix 1/2 cup golden syrup, 1/2 cup molasses, and 3/4 teaspoon baking soda; set aside.

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When the water is boiling, add 3/4 cup of it to the molasses mixture, and stir thoroughly.

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Carefully pour the molasses mixture over a spoon (this will prevent creating a hole in the crust) into the crumb crust.

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Sprinkle the remaining crumbs on top. Place in the oven immediately, and bake for 25 minutes. The top will be cake-like, while the bottom will be sticky and gooey.

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Remove the pie from the oven, and cool completely before serving. Shoofly pie is best served at room temperature with whipped cream, though a true traditionalist may ask you to warm it for them slightly.

If you question the motions, you could consult my following of Pennsylvania-Dutch relatives who not only donated this family recipe for gluten-free conversion, but who have shared it at their tables through many generations and holidays. I could feel my aunts and uncles looking at me sideways when I wrote to tell them my plan for this recipe at King Arthur Flour. For the first time, I’m taking it beyond the boundaries of our small family circle. I hope my tradition can help bring a new variety to yours this holiday season.

Time isn’t something we get back in our lives, so let this recipe remind you to slow down a little.

Please read, bake, and review our recipe for Gluten-Free Shoofly Pie.

Print just the recipe.

 

Amy Trage
About

Amy Trage is a native of Vermont where she spent much of her childhood skiing and training for the equestrian event circuit. With a strong desire to pursue food writing, Amy took her English degree from Saint Anselm College to the New England Culinary Institute ...

comments

  1. Hillary

    This weekend I thought I should email your team and ask for a shoofly pie recipe – it always reminds me of my Pennsylvania-born grandma.

    Any chance you can share a gluten-included recipe as well? Is this a wet or dry pie?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I will certainly suggest to our test kitchen to make one! However, I am not sure what you mean by a “wet” or “dry” pie. If you are talking about the filling then it is quite moist and creamy. Jon@KAF

  2. Lisa

    ‘Wet’ means the pie is more like a pecan pie, but with crumbs on top, and ‘dry’ means it’s more like a cake in a piecrust, with very little, if any, goo on the bottom.
    Different counties in Pa (and different families) have different rules for Shoo Fly Pie.

    Reply
  3. Betty Curry

    I have a question I am hoping you can help me with. When baking either a pumpkin pie or a two crust pie the bottom crust does not bake completely. How can I get it to completely bake?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Betty, make sure you’re using a dark metal pie pan (or glass, if that’s all you have), rather than stoneware or a light pan; dark pans or glass bake bottom crusts more thoroughly. Set the pan on the lowest rack of the oven, too, closest to the heat. You can also pre-bake the crust, before adding the filling and baking again. Any or all of these techniques will help you get the golden-brown, crisp crust you want. PJH

  4. Betty Beake

    I come from New England and my mother and Aunts would never use any flour unless it was King Arthur and now I bake with it too.

    Reply
  5. Alan

    I tried making a Shoo Fly pie today, but it didn’t turn out correctly. The top looks nice and cake-like, but the inside is literally “runny”. It did not set up properly. I am pretty sure that I followed the directions correctly. Any ideas what went wrong? Can I put it back in the oven to bake it some more?
    Thanks,
    Alan

    Reply
    1. Amy Trage , post author

      Hi Alan. You may have needed to leave it in longer, or perhaps there was a measurement error with the water. What did you use for the molasses/syrup? Did you not put enough crumbs on top to absorb some of the liquid? Is your oven running cool perhaps? ~Amy

    2. Alan

      Thanks for the response. I am pretty sure all the measurements were correct. I do not have any of the “golden syrup” so I used Karo Light Corn Syrup instead. For the molasses I used Grandma’s Original Molasses. It is possible that the oven temperature was not correct. My oven has a very small thermostat dial, with no reading for 375 degrees, so I had to “guesstimate” the setting. I think it’s time to buy an oven thermometer. I will have to try again!

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