Traditional Shoo Fly Pie Recipe

by Lori Elliott on the Our Heritage of Health blog


Traditional Shoo Fly Pie

Photo by Lori Elliott, author of the blog  Our Heritage of

Pie Pastry for One 9 inch Pie Plate

  • 1 cup flour, baker’s choice (use either a sprouted whole wheat flour or a good-quality unbleached all-purpose flour since the flours in this recipe are not being soaked or soured)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup lard (or 1/3 butter, or half butter half lard, depending on what you have on hand.)
  • 3-4 Tbs cold water

(Note: The ingredients here are for this pie pastry recipe, but any pie pastry will work here, so just use whatever is your favorite.)

Crumb Topping

  • 1 1/4 cups flour, baker’s choice
  • 1/2 cup whole cane sugar (or rapadura or sucanat)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg * (Feel free to use a full teaspoon of nutmeg if you are a fan of the spice)
  • pinch salt


  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup molasses *
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    * It is recommended using regular unsulfured molasses rather than blackstrap molasses for this recipe. Since the molasses is the only sweetener for the filling, blackstrap would make for a pretty bitter filling. If all you have on hand is blackstrap, though, you could replace a couple of spoonfuls of molasses with a couple spoonfuls of pure maple syrup for a molasses flavor that’s not quite as overwhelming.


  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and prepare your pie pastry. If you’re using my favorite pastry recipe (above), mix the salt in with the flour, and then cut the lard (or lard/butter combo) into the flour with a pastry blender. Then add the cold water and mix until a soft dough forms. Roll the pastry out and line a 9″ pie plate with it.
  2. For the crumb topping, combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Then cut the butter into small pieces, and use a pastry blender to combine the butter with the dry ingredients until the mixture forms into delectable buttery crumbs.
  3. For the filling, heat up your water in a sauce pan until it is warm (but not boiling.) Then take the water off the heat and stir in the molasses until fully blended. Next, add in your baking soda and stir well to combine. The mixture will look frothier as the soda reacts with the acid in the molasses.
  4. Pour the molasses mixture into your pie pastry shell, and then sprinkle the crumb topping all around, adding a little extra to the sides. (Since the filling tends to slosh around a bit and absorb the crumb filling when you pick up the pie to put it into the oven, it might be a good idea to save aside a handful of the crumb topping mixture and sprinkle it around the pie after it has been in the oven for a few minutes to make sure you have an even distribution of topping.)
  5. Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 35 minutes or so until a knife inserted into the center will come out clean.

NOTE: It’s best to prepare the pie pastry and the crumb topping before you mix up the molasses filling. Since the reaction between the baking soda and the molasses is the only thing making the filling rise up, if you let it sit out on the counter while you take the time to roll out a pie crust and mix up the topping, you might end up with a flatter pie.



Recipe Analysis by Lori Elliott

“This pie is quite similar to the ones I had in Lancaster, Pennsylvania but I can definitely see and taste a difference in the filling of the pie. The filling of the ones I had at the smorgasbords were quite a bit lighter in color and much, much sweeter than my own homemade filling. I’m guessing that there might have been something else besides just molasses in those smorgasbord pies.

This pie is absolutely delicious, and I love the combination of pie crust and the cake-like crumb topping. If you love pie and you love coffee cake, this pie truly is the best of both worlds!”