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Shoofly pie is an old-fashioned pie made from pantry staples. This simple wet-bottom pie is full of molasses flavor!
Pie is one of my most favorite things to eat, so whenever I come across a variety I haven’t had before, I need to try it immediately.
Because of that, I’ve sampled a lot of pies. And let me tell you, when I first tasted a shoofly pie, I became absolutely obsessed.
Molasses cookies are top tier for me, so it makes sense that I’d be drawn to this gooey, sweet, bitter pie.
Shoofly pie is unusual because it has a liquid base with dry ingredients sprinkled on top. As it bakes, the base becomes gooey and thick like custard, while the top mixes with just some of the liquid to make a cakelike layer.
If you love the flavor of molasses, you’ll adore this easy pie recipe!
What is shoofly pie?
If you didn’t grow up with shoofly pie, you might not have ever heard of it.
Considered an old-fashioned pie, most agree that it originated in the 1880s as a crumb cake rather than a pie.
It’s associated with the Pennsylvania Dutch, and the name originates from the Shoofly brand of molasses that was made in Philadelphia.
It started as a cake but soon had a crust added to make the dish easier to eat.
There are both wet-bottom and dry-bottom versions of shoofly pie. Dry-bottom shoofly pie has a more cake-like consistency, but wet-bottom pie is gooey.
Ingredients for shoofly pie
Because this pie is made from pantry ingredients, it’s a great option when you want dessert but don’t want to hit the store.
Molasses – There are a few different kinds of molasses: light, dark (also labeled as full flavor or robust), and blackstrap.
I use full flavor molasses, but if you want a less pronounced molasses flavor, I recommend using the light molasses.
Do not use blackstrap molasses, as it is very bitter and thick.
Boiling water – The hot water thins out the molasses and reacts with the baking soda to fizz and lighten the mixture.
Baking soda – While this pie isn’t leavened in the more traditional sense, the baking soda works to balance the acidity of the molasses.
Egg – Originally shoo fly pie did not have eggs, but it is now added to make the filling more custardy.
Vanilla – For added flavor, a small amount of pure vanilla extract is used.
Flour – To create the cakey top, I use all-purpose flour. A gluten-free all-purpose flour blend would likely work here as well.
Brown sugar – For sweetness that plays against the bitter molasses, brown sugar is mixed into the topping. Its crumbly texture works well with the butter to make a sandy topping.
I recommend light brown sugar for this recipe. Dark brown sugar has more molasses, and since we’re already using plenty of molasses in this pie, you don’t need the flavor boost.
Butter – Both salted and unsalted butter will work here. Make sure it is cold, to cut into the flour and brown sugar.
How to make this shoofly pie recipe
Before you mix the pie filling ingredients, you’ll need to parbake your pie crust.
First, roll out your pie crust (you can use homemade or packaged) and fit into your pie pan.
Crimp or flute the edges as desired, and prick the bottom a few times with a fork.
Place the pan into the freezer and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400°F.
Once the crust has chilled, remove it from the freezer. Place a piece of foil on top of the crust and press to shape the foil to the crust, covering the edges.
Pour in a layer of pie weights, sugar, or dried beans. I keep a jar of dried beans set aside just for blind baking.
Blind baking the crust ensures it is fully cooked after baking the full pie. It prevents a soggy bottom crust and allows for cleaner pie slices.
Bake the crust for 20 minutes, then carefully lift out the foil with the beans, and return the crust to the oven for another 5 minutes.
Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the filling. Turn the oven down to 350°F.
In a bowl, whisk together molasses and boiling water. Add the baking soda and whisk until it is blended and foamy.
Beat the egg in a small bowl, then add to the molasses mixture along with the vanilla, whisking the entire time to prevent the egg from cooking.
In another bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, and cold butter. Use a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers to break up the butter and blend the ingredients together.
The mixture will resemble wet sand, and it should form clumps when squeezed together.
Pour the wet mixture into the pie crust. Now, using a spoon or your hands, evenly sprinkle the topping over the wet layer.
Be careful to not do this too quickly. Do not just dump it on, or you will not get the two distinct pie layers.
It will seem like a lot of topping, but use all of it. In a 9-inch pie plate that is 1 ½ inches deep, the fillings will come nearly to the top.
Use a pie shield or strips of foil to cover the edges of the crust. This will prevent the edges from burning while you cook the pie interior fully.
Carefully place the pie into the oven on the center rack. On the lower rack, place a rimmed sheet pan to catch any drips.
Bake the pie for 45-50 minutes, until golden and puffed in the center.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving. The pie will deflate (similar to a pumpkin pie) as the filling sets.
Serve with coffee or a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
Other delicious holiday desserts
Looking to round out your holiday dessert table or just looking for a pie spread? Try these recipes:
Make this shoo fly pie with its signature gooey molasses filling, and add something distinctively different to the table!
- 1 pie crust
- 1 cup molasses
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter, cold
- Roll out your pie crust and fit it to a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp or flute edge as desired, prick bottom with a fork, then place in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Once the crust is chilled, place a piece of foil onto the crust, pressing to cover the whole crust and edges. Pour in a layer of pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes, then carefully remove the foil with the beans, and bake 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly while you prepare the filling. Reduce the oven to 350°F.
- In a bowl, whisk together molasses and water, then whisk in baking soda until foamy. Lightly beat egg and add to mixture along with vanilla, whisking the entire time to prevent the egg from cooking.
- In another bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and butter. Use a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers to blend together until the mixture resembles wet sand and clumps when squeezed together.
- Pour the molasses mixture into the prepared crust. Then, carefully spoon over the topping in an even layer. Do not do this too quickly, as you want it to float on the top, not sink. If using a pie shield, place it on before baking.
- Carefully place the pie into the oven on the center rack. On the lower rack, place a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown and puffed. Let cool completely before serving.