Shoofly Honey Pie, Part 2

I've lately been reading Janet Clarkson's Pie: A Global History.  In her chapter regarding the universal appeal of pie, I whipped my ever-ready pencil out for a quick underlining. The underlined statement reads, "...one of the delights of a good pie is the contrast in texture between the crisp pastry and the filling - whatever it might be. In a perfect pie, each component is independently perfect - the mouthfeel of the pastry (buttery, flaky, crumbly) and the mouthfeel of the filling (rich, unctuous, tender, sticky, crunchy, etc); and the whole is more than the sum of its parts."

Clarkson's eloquent (and true) declaration on the components of perfect pie could also act as an illustration on how a home cook might approach the daunting and often intimidating task of an unfamiliar dessert: Best to think of the pie in its part. Then revel joyously, bite by bite, in the superior whole.

So in the spirit of that approach, I am super excited to share the new and improved, book-worthy version of our Shoofly Pie!  I want to thank the Guild members who tested this pie and gave fabulous feedback... Check out the Shoofly Facebook page for their photos. Without further ado here it is broken into its simple and perfect honey-inspired components...

(Ok, I made tartlets. But that's no big whoop.) 

Shoofly Honey Pie = Pastry + Syrup Filling + Crumb Topping

The process of putting those components together:
1. Make the pastry.
2. Roll out the pastry and freeze.
3. Prebake the pastry.
4. Prepare the filling (Syrup and Crumb)
5. Build and Bake the pie.
6. Enjoy the whole sweet, sticky, boozy, flaky goodness.

Shoofly Honey Pie
adapted from: Amish Cooking. LaGrange: Pathways, 1977.

Yield: One 9” tart or pie

Pastry/Pie Crust:
1 ½ cup flour, cold
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch of quatre epices*
9 Tablespoons butter, cubed and cold
1/3 cup cold water mixed with 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
Egg wash: 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 T water

*Alternatively, use a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon.  

To make by hand:
1. Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and spice. Rub in the cold butter, using your fingertips, until it's the size of small peas. 
3. Add the water/vinegar liquid 1 tablespoon at a time and blend quickly with your fingers until the dough can be gathered into a ball. This should take 3 to 4 Tablespoons. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill in the frig for about 15 minutes.
4. When ready, on a lightly-floured surface, roll out to the size of your pan with about 1 inch of extra at edge. Butter your pie pan. 
5. Transfer to pan and firmly press against the edges. Trim the edge with scissors, leaving a bit to tuck under and crimp. If using a tart pan, cut the dough by pressing it into the edge of the pan with your thumb. Flute or crimp it with your fingers or with a fork. Leave a bit of dough hanging slightly over the edge to prevent it from shrinking when prebaked.

Note the extra dough on the edge to be used for crimping/fluting

Grandma Dreier demonstrates crimping on a peach pie last summer
6. Place crust in freezer for at least one hour. (Freezing it helps make a flaky texture.)
7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place a baking sheet in the oven. Remove the crust from the freezer, and line it with foil. Fill it with dried beans or pie weights and place in the oven for about 5-7 minutes or until the crust no longer looks wet.
8. Remove the foil and beans/weights. Brush the bottom of the crust with the egg wash and return to oven, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the crust is beginning to turn golden brown. If it begins to bubble, you can prick the bubble gently with a fork. Remove from the oven and set aside as you prepare the filling.

The Filling: 
The filling is made of two layers: Syrup + Crumbs. The crumb layer is prepared first and then set aside while you prepare the syrup. Syrup gets poured in first, crumbs on top.

½ cup flour
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¾ teaspoon scant quatre epices*
Pinch salt
2 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup walnuts + 2 Tablespoons for topping, roughly chopped
* Alternatively, you can also use ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon and ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg.

1 Tablespoon butter
½ cup hot water
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup honey
2 Tablespoons molasses
¼ cup packed brown sugar
Pinch of salt
2 ½ Tablespoons bourbon* (optional)
1 egg, lightly beaten
*Alternatively, you can use 1 teaspoon vanilla.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a baking sheet in the oven.

To prepare crumbs… 
2. In mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, quatre epices, and salt.
3. With your fingers, pastry blender or fork cut in the cold butter till it’s pea-sized.
4. Stir in 1/3 cup of roughly-chopped walnuts and set aside.


To prepare syrup…
5. Brown the 1 T of butter over medium-high heat, swirling the pan till brown solids begin to form and a nutty smell develops. This should only take a couple minutes. Set aside for just a moment.
6. In a mixing bowl, combine baking soda and hot water. With spatula, add the butter, honey, molasses, brown sugar, and salt. Stir till everything is combined.
7. Whisk in the lightly beaten egg and the bourbon.  Add ¼ cup of the prepared crumb mixture to the syrup and stir.

Syrup post crumb addition

To build and bake the pie/tart…
8. Pour syrup into the crust.
9. Sprinkle on the crumb mixture, and then add 2 Tablespoons roughly chopped walnuts to the top.
10. Place on the pre-heated baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is no longer jiggly.
11. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
12.The pie can be eaten warm or cold. It ages beautifully and is lovely with a cup of coffee.



  1. Your first set of recipes arrived the day before I was scheduled for surgery on my hand, so it has taken me a while to get back to cooking.

    But I am functional now and chose the Shoofly Honey Tart as my offering to a party for a high school graduate.

    The reaction was great. Awesome. Fabulous. Great Pie.

    The pie does not come from my Mennonite tradition and none of the partygoers have a clue about Mennonites.

    I made a very slight modification to the recipe because I was reading the suggestion in Cook's Illustrated magazine to use a bit of vodka when making pie crusts, so I mixed about equal amounts of vinegar and vodka with the water for the crust. Can't say it made any difference.

    1. Hi John!
      Thanks for your comment AND for making the Shoofly Pie! I'm glad to hear your hand is no longer keeping you from the kitchen. I think I would go mad. :) I'm also excited to hear they loved the pie... warms my heart!

      Interesting thought on the vodka. I've considered trying that as well, but have heard similar opinions so I've kept more economical with the vinegar. Your note affirms my avoidance. :)

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