Tag Archive for pennsylvania german

Recipe For Shoo-Fly Pie or Pebble Dash

Pennsylvania Dutch cooking is good eating. And the Pennsylvania Dutch are known for their ability to “make do” and combine ordinary foods in special ways.
One of the better-known dishes inside and outside of Pennsylvania Dutch Country is Pebble Dash or Shoo-Fly Pie.

Dry Bottom Shoo-Fly Pie

Dry Bottom Shoo-Fly Pie

Shoo-Fly pie is a very old folk food and may have its origins in treacle tarts. I don’t think I’ve ever been to an Amish farm stand or roadside Amish bake sale that Shoo-Fly Pie wasn’t for sale.

In actuality Shoo-Fly or Pebble Dash aren’t really “pies” at all in the ordinary sense. They are more a type of fluffy molasses cake that just happens to be baked in a pie shell.
The recipe below makes a “dry bottom” shoo fly pie. Shoo fly pies can either be a “wet bottom” or “dry bottom”. Wet bottom shoo fly pie has as the name implies, a layer of moist molasses and sugar on the bottom of the pastry shell.
Dry bottom is the older type of Pebble Dash or Shoo-Fly pie.

Lard for the shortening of the pastry shell is the traditional way that this cake is made.

I personally don’t care for Shoo Fly Pie but my husband is very fond of it. If you love molasses and a not too sweet cake then this recipe is for you. It uses no eggs and can be made from ordinary pantry staples.

Shoo-Fly pie is traditionally served as a breakfast food with strong coffee in Pennsylvania German farmhouses. It is served slightly warmed and with whip cream in tourist traps.
Here’s the recipe that I use in case you should like to try it. It makes a single 9″ pie.

  • One 9″ Unbaked Pastry Shell (Traditional)
  • ½ Cup of Brown Sugar
  • 1 ¾ Cups of White Flour
  • 4 Tablespoons of Butter
  • ½ Cup of Very Hot water
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ Cup of Dark Molasses
  • ½ Teaspoon of Salt

Mix the brown sugar, flour and butter together until crumbly. Remove ½ of the flour, butter & sugar mixture and set aside.
In a small bowl mix the hot water and baking soda until dissolved. Next add the salt and molasses. Add the water, soda, salt and molasses mixture to the flour, butter and sugar mixture. Mix well.
Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell or into a 9″ greased pie pan.
Sprinkle the top with the ½ of reserved flour, sugar and butter mixture.
Bake at 350ºF for 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Serve for breakfast with strong coffee.

Shoo-Fly Pies

Shoo-Fly Pies


Pennsylvania German Superstitions

Rural Pennsylvania German farmers have always been superstitious bunch. It’s not for nothing that Punxsutawney Phil hails from Pennsylvania. The use of rodents for weather prognostication is just the tip of the Pennsylvania Dutch folklore iceberg.

Pennsylvania Groundhog

Ordinary Fat Pennsylvania Groundhog

I thought I’d share a few more Pennsylvania Dutch superstitions. Fact is the Pennsylvania Dutch are known for more than just good food.

• Don’t take the cat with you on the day that you move; it’s very bad luck. Fetch her later.
• Open the windows in a room after someone has died so the soul can get out.
• Nail a toad’s foot over the barn door to keep the witches out.
• If you dream of milk it means you will fall in love.
• Sweep the house in the dark of the moon and you will never be plagued with spiders or moths.
• Spitting into a fire causes a toothache.
• Never plant peas or beans on the day that baking is done.
• To cure founder in horses from over feeding grain, pee on their hay before feeding.

• If a tree will not bear fruit drive nails into it.
• Don’t clean out cattle stalls or pens between Christmas and New Year’s Day. If you do witches will bother you.
• The number of snow storms during the winter is indicated by the number of days from the first snow in fall to the next full moon or to the first day of the following month.
• “A fat wife and a big barn never did a man any harm.”
• To drop a fork means a man will come for a visit; a knife means a woman.
• On Ground Hog’s Day short men should stay indoors if the weather is clear so as not to unduly tempt the forces of nature which control the balance of nature.