Shoofly Pie Don’t Bother Me

Wake-up call was at 7:00 am yesterday, which is unusual for me, especially on a Sunday morning. Nevertheless, at 7:00 a.m. sharp I was awake- well, as close to awake as I could be at that hour. Groggy, with hair sticking out in multiple directions, I reached for my apron, hummed the Mission Impossible theme song, and started on the Shoofly Pie*.

*Some history: Shoofly Pie is a traditional pie from the Pennsylvania Dutch. Often considered a cake/pie hybrid, it features a cake-like top with a gooey molasses bottom. As for the name? The molasses is a prime attractant for flies!

First, I pulled my pie crust from the fridge (I’d made it the night before, I’m learning to plan ahead), and rolled it out. Twice. I’m a big fan of Mrs. Rowe’s Vinegar Pie Crust, as it seems to hold up well even when I need to perform a little pie crust surgery to get it to fit the pie pan. However, I can’t seem to get it to roll out perfectly the first time, due to its propensity for sticking to the countertop. Less flour? More flour? Less water? I don’t know. Next time I’m going to use parchment paper and I’ll let you know how it goes.

With the crust pieced together, I stuck it in the fridge to keep it cool while I started on the filling. I’d purchased a bottle of dark corn syrup just for this pie, and the recipe said to mix the corn syrup and molasses, then add a cup of boiling water before mixing in an egg and some baking soda. The water boiled quickly, and I poured it into my molasses mixture. I mixed it as hard as I could, and then plunked the egg into the bowl. As soon as I had done it, I realized my mistake. I had just poured an egg into a bowl full of piping hot molasses and corn syrup- my egg was going to COOK!

Frantic with fear, I beat the mixture with a wooden spoon as hard as I could, thinking that maybe (just maybe) that the egg wouldn’t cook if I kept it moving. Despite my efforts, I soon spotted pieces of egg swimming sickeningly in the dark brown batter. My spirits fell. I had had this problem before with custards, and the end result was never good. Just imagine creamy custard with chunks of savory egg pieces. Ewwww.

Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to give it one last effort and toss in the baking soda. I’d already wrecked the pie, and a little baking soda couldn’t possibly do anything wrong now. Right?

I threw the baking soda into the bowl and stirred, and stirred, and stirred. And, to my amazement, the clumps of egg disappeared! Hardly able to believe my luck, I carefully strained the mixture in order to catch any errant egg clumps, but they were gone. Magic? Unlikely, unless my letter from Hogwarts arrived eight years too late. Science? As far as I can tell, there’s nothing to suggest that baking soda can break down eggs. Miracle? Maybe- just a small kitchen miracle that saved my Shoofly pie.

Still slightly dazed by the pie’s miraculous recovery, I poured the filling into the crust, and topped it with the crumble mixture (a blend of spices and butter). The baked pie was a rich dark brown, with small speckles of the crumb mixture. The one thing I would have changed would be the surface of the pie- for some reason the pie was pretty bumpy (trapped air bubbles? not quite sure on this one).

The Shoofly Pie, with the Blackberry in the background
The Shoofly Pie, with the Blackberry in the background
The Shoofly Pie in all its glory
The Shoofly Pie in all its glory

As far as taste goes, this one was a winner with the whole family. I brought it to my grandma’s house that afternoon where we had it alongside the blackberry pie (which I wrote about here). Most had never tasted a Shoofly Pie before, and we had fun trying to say “Shoofly Pie” in a true Southern accent. As for me, I liked the pie overall. The spices were pleasant, and the cake-like part of the pie was my favorite. However, the molasses flavor was a little strong- I would try light molasses next time.

Thanks for reading- up next is Grasshopper Pie!

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