Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Shoofly Pie

My dad's side of the family is Pennsylvania German (commonly called Pennsylvania Dutch, though "Dutch" is a mistranslation of "Deutsch," or "German").  Shoofly pie is a traditional Pennsylvania German dessert--something that's well-known to me but probably not to many others.  Shoofly pie is molasses based and therefore gets its name from its sweetness: if left outside to cool, it attracts flies that then must be shooed away.

Shoofly Pie with Coconut-Based Ice Cream
We made a "wet-bottom" shoofly pie last night.  It's "wet-bottom" because the crumb topping sits on a gooey molasses-filling bottom.  

Recipe: 
Shoofly Pie

Pie Crust
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 2.5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cold vegan butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1.5 tablespoons cold water
Pie Filling 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt + 1 pinch
  • 6 tablespoons cold vegan butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 3 tablespoons water (you may need a little more)
First, prepare the crust.  In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt until combined.  Add the butter and pulse about 7 more times, or until the mixture is crumbly.  Then add the cold water and pulse 7 more times, or until the mixture just comes together.  Remove the dough from the food processor and briefly knead the dough until everything is well incorporated--be careful not to overknead the dough or it will become tough.  Then roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to 1/8 inch thick.  Place the dough into a 9-inch pie dish and trim the edges, leaving a little bit of an overhang to fold under.  Crimp the edges of the dough with your fingers, a fork, or a pie crust crimper.  Keep the crust cold while you prepare the filling.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.  Add the butter and work the mixture through your fingers until it forms fine crumbs.  Be careful not to over-handle the crumbs, as the heat from your fingers will melt the butter.  Then set the crumb topping aside. Next, whisk together the boiling water, molasses, and corn syrup in another medium bowl.  Whisk in the baking soda, flax, water, and a pinch of salt.  Pour the molasses mixture into the prepared pie shell and scatter the crumb topping over the filling.  Finally, place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until filling is set and topping is deep golden brown, about 50 minutes. 

Let cool on a wire rack 30 minutes.  (Really, this is important--the filling needs to set!)  Makes one 9-inch pie.

 Comments:
Taste:      
Shoofly pie has a delightfully sweet, interesting flavor, and this version is no exception.  It tastes a little like gingerbread in pie form.  The wet bottom and crumbly top are great together, and unlike any other pie I've tasted.  I usually serve this with vanilla coconut-based ice cream.  Mmm.  It's quite the combination.  
Accessibility:     
I've made this with both egg-replacer powder and the water/flax combination in lieu of eggs; I prefer it with flax, but you could try another egg-replacer if needed. 
 Ease of Preparation:    
The recipe may look long, but it's pretty simple.  Though it does take a fair amount of time to prepare, I love the fact that the pie crust doesn't need to be baked ahead of time (as many other recipes require).  You could also use a pre-made, frozen pie crust.    
Non-vegan friendliness:   
Simon is making another pie tonight to bring to work tomorrow.  That's quite the testament to its non-vegan friendliness!  I will say that this pie doesn't taste exactly how I remember my grandmother's non-vegan shoofly pie tasting--hers had a bit more of a clear divide between the crumb topping and wet bottom, perhaps--but it's still great. 

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