A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 18, 2009
Shoofly Pie (Shoo-fly Pie)

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikipedia: SHoofly Pie
Shoofly pie (or shoo-fly pie) is a molasses pie considered traditional among the Pennsylvania Dutch and also known in Southern cooking.

The term “shoo-fly pie” first appeared in print in 1926. The pie gets its name because the molasses attractive to flies that must be “shooed” away.

A Montgomery pie is similar to a shoofly pie, except lemon juice is usually added to the bottom layer and buttermilk to the topping. A chess pie is also similar, but it is unlayered and made with corn syrup.

The song “Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy” was first performed by June Christy singing with Stan Kenton and his orchestra. A cover version performed by Dinah Shore in 1946 was her first top-ten hit. The song was written by songwriter Guy Wood. Present-day rights to the song are held by Paul McCartney’s MPL Communications.

Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy
“Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy” is a popular song about New England cooking, with music by Guy Wood and words by Sammy Gallop. It was published on 1945.

The biggest hit versions of the song were recorded by Dinah Shore and by the Stan Kenton orchestra (with June Christy doing the vocal). It was also recorded by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians, and by Ella Fitzgerald. The recording by Dinah Shore was released by Company Records as catalog number 36943. It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on April 4, 1946 and lasted 2 weeks on the chart, peaking at #7. The recording by Stan Kenton/June Christy was released by Capitol Records as catalog number 235. It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on March 14, 1946 and lasted 4 weeks on the chart, peaking at #8.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Main Entry: shoofly pie
Function: noun
Date: 1924
: a rich pie of Pennsylvania Dutch origin made of molasses or brown sugar sprinkled with a crumbly mixture of flour, sugar, and butter

Dictionary of American Regional English
shoofy pie n Also shoofly (cake) chiefly PA
A molasses pie or cake; see quots.
1908 Lee-Haney Std. Domestic Sci. Cook Book 286 (Popik Coll.), Shoo Fly Pie.  Into a pie tin lined with crust pour mixture of 1 cup of new Orleans molasses and 1 cup of hot water in which 1 teaspoonful of soda had been dissolved. Sprinkle into the liquor mixture of 1 cup of brown sugar, butter the size of 1 egg, 2 cups of flour and cinnamon or nutmeg to taste. When soaked in, bake.
1932 Hench Coll., Mother told me that in Western Penna. the pie she always called Shoofly pie is called “granger pie”.
1940 30 Mar 42, No account of the Amish is complete without a mention of shoo-fly pie and schnitz pie. The former is a molasses crumb cake.
1949 14 Nov 12, What are the ingredients of shoo-fly pie, a regional dish of Pennsylvania?..Molasses, baking soda, brown sugar, flour, shortening, salt and boiling water. According to some folklore experts, the term “shoo-fly” comes from the sweet, syrupy substance of the pie, which attracts flies that have to be shooed away.
1950 Klees PA Dutch 425, The Shoofly is not a pie but a wonderful molasses cake with a rich pie crust below and a top covered with crumbs...Although counted as a breakfast cake, it is good at any hour of the day or night...Some prefer their shooflies gummy at the bottom and some do not.
1951 Reading Times (PA) 24 Sept 20/1 Matthews Coll.), Shoefly[sic] cake, speck and sauer-kraut, snitz and nepp and many other tasty dishes common to the inhabitants of the region were served.
1965-70 DARE (Qu. H63, ) 11 Infs, PA, Shoofly pie; PA9, 49, Shoofly; PA 203, Wet-bottom shoofly pie; (Qu. H45) Inf OH80, SHoofly pie; (Qu. H65, Foreign foods favored by people around here) Infs NJ2, PA146, Shoofly pie.  [14 of 17 Infs old]
1977 Anderson Grass Roots Cookbook 52 sePA, “I don’t often anymore make Shoo-Fly pies,” admits Mrs. Rohrer, “because I have to have helpers to eat.”
1998 Millersville Univ. Center for PA Ger, Studies Jrl. Autumn 11, Before leaving for the coal mine, she would hand him his water flask and lunch pail that she had prepared earlier. Inside the pail you might find several Lebanon bologna sandwiches, had boiled eggs, and a large piece of shoofly pie.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
shoo-fly, phr. and n.
U.S.
Also shoofly, shoo fly.
shoo-fly pie, a rich tart made of molasses baked in a pastry case with a crumble topping
1935 Esquire Dec. 200/1 ‘Shoo-fly pie’a brown-and-white crumb-cake, faintly spiced.
1971 Daily Colonist (Victoria, B.C.) 9 July 3/4 The pair is helping their father sell shoo-fly Pie and other Pennsylvania items.
1979 United States 1980/81 (Penguin Travel Guides) 48 Vermont cheese and maple syrup,..and shoofly pie and pretzels in the Pennsylvania Dutch country are all specialties of their respective regions.

Google Books
The Cumberland Valley Cook and General Recipe Book
By the Ladies of the Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania
Topeka, KS: Kansas Publishing House
1881
Pg. 45:
SHOO FLY PIE.—1 cup molasses, 1 do. boiling water, 1 teaspoon soda, 1 do. cream tartar, then take 3 cups flour, 1/2 cup lard, rub in crumbs, and stir them into the molasses, leave a few out to put on the top of the pies.

Google Books
San Rafael Cook Book
First Presbyterian Church
Compiled by the Ladies of San Rafael, California
1906
Pg. 178:
SHOO FLY PIE—Mrs. C. C. Olmsted
Make a nice thin lower crust. Filling—4 cups flour, 1/2 cup butter or lard and 1 cup sugar riveled together, keep 1 cup of these crumbs to sprinkle on top of pies when nearly baked and put the remainder in with 1 cup of molasses, 2 teaspoons soda and 1 cup of boiling water, put soda in half of the water then stir it in the molasses and add remainder of water. Enough for four pies. Good to caryy the picnics.

7 November 1908, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, pg. 9:
Shoo-Fly Pie.—One teaspoonful baking soda, one teacup boiling water, one teacup molasses; put on to boil, stir it until light, then let it stand until you get rivels made.

For rivels, you take three cups of flour, one cup of sugar, one-half cup butter, rub all through until it forms rivels, then line your pie plates with rich crust, divide molasses in three of the plates and strew the rivels on top until it is all used, then bake. This makes three pies.

21 April 1909, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, pg. 11:
Shoo-fly Pie.—One pint of New Orleans molasses, one and one-half teaspoonful of baking soda in a pint of water, crumbs, four cups of flour, one nad one-half cups brown sugar, one teaspoonful lard. Put the liquid in the pan, then the crumbs. This makes six cakes in pie pans.

Still another shoo-fly piie.—One teaspoonful baking soda, one teacup boiling water, one teacup molasses; put on to boil, stir in until light, then let it stand until you get rivels made.

For rivels you take three cups of flour, one cup of sugar, one-half cup butter, rub all through until it forms rivels, then line your pie plate with rich crust, divide molasses in three of the plates and strew the rivels on tip until it is all used. then bake. This makes three pies.

Feeding America
Mary At The Farm And Book Of Recipes Compiled During Her Visit Among The “Pennsylvania Germans,”
By Edith M. Thomas. With Illustrations…
Norristown, Pa., Printed By John Hartenstine
1915
Pg. 377:
“PEBBLE DASH” OR SHOO-FLY PIE
Aunt Sarah made these to perfection and called them “Pebble Dash” pie. THey are not really pies, they resemble cakes, but having a crust we will calss them with pies. SHe lined three small sized pie-tins with rich pie crust. For the crumbs she placed in a bowl 3 cups of flour, 1 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup of butter and lard, mixed and rubbed all together with the hands, not smooth, but in small rivels. For the liquid part she used 1 cup baking molasses, 1 cup hot water, 1 teaspoonful baking soda dissolved in a few drops of vinegar and stirred this into the molasses and water. SHe divided the liquid among the three pans, putting one-third in each crust, over which she sprinkled thecrumbs. Bake one-half hour in a moderate oven. THese have the appearance of molasses cakes when baked.

10 March 1925, Mansfield (OH) News, pg. 6, col. 8:
Shoo Fly Pie or Crumb Pue
(...)
Shoofly Pie—Take two teaspoons molasses, pinch soda, put in cup, add enough sweet milk to make a cup, stir well and pour in a pie crust.

Take one cup flour, one of sugar, one teaspoon butter, pinch salt and crumb well, then sprinkle in the crust on top of milk mixture, bake over one-half hour in moderate oven, or until well done. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Wednesday, February 18, 2009 • Permalink