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Shoofly in My Pie Recipe And Apple Pan Dowdie

Updated on January 30, 2013

No Flys in My Pie

The one thing that the South doesn't lack is flies or any other insect. While today, you don't commonly see fly swatters hanging in the kitchen, like you did back before we all lived in such climate controlled air conditioned houses -- flys don't quite make today's list of the "I hates" like other insects. That's because they aren't in the house as much, and we're not swatting them constantly like we were before.

Grama didn't want in flies in her pies and neither did I. Shooing flies was the job assigned my little brother on baking day by my grandmother. He got paid a bounty, usually in the form of food or pennies, for every one he killed.

He never quite got up to common house fly #7777, but I seem to remember the number -- 25 in one day. That day, he was rich enough to buy a comic book, or get a tummy ache from eating that many cookies.

Fly swatter
Fly swatter | Source
Portrait of June Christy and Red Rodney, Club Troubadour, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947.
Portrait of June Christy and Red Rodney, Club Troubadour, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947. | Source

Shoofly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy

Now, our father and grama liked to argue, tease and torment each other. Daddy had taught us kids to sing the chorus of the song (yes, there is a song) -- Shoofly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy.

This song was popular in the late 1940s, and sun by artists, like Dinah Shore, but originally recorded by June Christy and Stan Kenton, along with his orchestra. The song was written by Guy Wood (a relative of mine), and curiously is now owned by Paul McCartney's company.

My little brother would run around chasing the flies and bellowing at the top of his lungs.....Shoofly pie and apple pan dowdy...Makes your eyes light up, and your tummy say howdy!....And, I'd chime in with the .....I never get enough! It's a wonder she didn't use the flyswatter on us.

Shoo Fly Pie

Shoofly raspberry pie
Shoofly raspberry pie | Source

Montgomery Pie

Montgomery pie is a regional version of Shoofly pie. Some people make it with lemons, some people make it using limes.

Pie Ingredients:

  • 1 nine inch unbaked pie shell
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 lemon or lime, including juice and grated rind
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour

Pie Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients
  • Pour into pie shell and set aside

Topping ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Topping Instructions:

  • Blend butter and sugar
  • Add beaten egg and mix well
  • Add milk
  • Sift flour and baking powder and add gradually
  • Spread topping mix over pie

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

Apple Pan Dowdy

Lest, we forget the other aforementioned delectable dessert mentioned in the song, Shoofly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy-- is the Apple Pan Dowdy (aka West Virginia Deep Apple Pie). It's also an old-timey recipe.

Pie Ingredients:

  • Prepared pie crust, rolled 1/8 inch thick
  • 10 to 12 green or tart apples sliced (roughly 7 cups)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (most use pecans)

Topping ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (most use pecans)


  • Mix together apples, brown sugar, and nuts for pie filling
  • Cover bottom of 10 inch over proof skilled with topping mixture
  • Using about 1/2 of the pie crust, lay over the mixture in bottom of skillet, bring up around sides of pan
  • Fill with 1/2 apple pie mixture
  • Place a second layer of pie crust over the mixture center
  • Fill with remaining apple pie mixture
  • Bring pie crust from sides up and into the center in the skillet
  • Prick well with fork.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
  • Turn upside down and serve with hard sauce or whipped cream


Molasses Necessity Pie aka Shoofly Pie

One of Grama's favorite pies to make, was what she called Molasses Necessity Pie, but my dad called it Shoofly Pie. She claimed that the pie was thought up, because it didn't require many ingredients, and in times of necessity (poverty) it made a good and cheap dessert.

This old-timey pie recipe was and still is commonly served in Louisiana, and other parts of the South. Additionally, it is a specialty pie of Amish families in Pennsylvania. You'll also often find Amish cookbooks with a recipe or two for it.


  • 1 unbaked pastry shell (9 inches)
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup boiling water

Pie Instructions:

  • First line the pastry shell with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil.
  • Bake at 350° for 10 minutes.
  • Remove foil; brush crust with egg yolk.
  • Bake 5 minutes longer; cool on a wire rack.
  • While shell is cooling combine brown sugar, molasses, egg, flour and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  • Gradually add boiling water.
  • Cool to room temperature
  • Pour into prepared crust and set aside

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Dash salt
  • 7 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/3 cup cinnamon

Topping Instructions:

  • Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  • Cut in butter until crumbly.
  • Sprinkle over filling.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown and filling is set. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: This is a refrigerated pie and must be kept in the refrigerator.

Wet Bottom Pie

The most popular kind of Shoofly pie is perhaps, the wet bottom pie version. Wet bottom refers to the fact that the sweet sticky molasses lays beneath a crumb topping, similar to a coffee cake.

Dry Bottom Pie

Shoofly pie can also be made as a dry bottom pie, meaning that the molasses is more thoroughly mixed into the pie filling -- thus, creating a more cake like pie.

Chess Pie

Chess pie is an old pie, and I can't help but wonder if Shoofly pie evolved from it, rather than the other way around.


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup nuts (usually pecans)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon black walnut extract


  • Cream the butter and sugar
  • Add yolks of the eggs well beaten
  • Add milk, raisins, and nuts
  • Mix well
  • Add last of the well beaten egg white
  • Add walnut extract
  • Pour into pie crust
  • Bake at 350 degree oven until knife comes out clean when inserted

Serve with whipped cream on top.

Making Shoo Fly Pie

Shoofly Pie Trivia

Additionally, the story goes, that the pie was so sweet that flies were attracted to it, but I recall the pests being attracted to anything and everything. The common house fly was such an insect pest -- that it was widely taught that it was a major cause of diseases (which indeed it can be). Here's one such state educational film that's fairly interesting to watch.

Warning: I don't advise eating your pie while you're watching it!

House fly
House fly | Source

Why Do Flies Buzz?

What you are hearing when you hear the buzzing of a fly is it's wings beating a wild two hundred times a second!

Even more amazing is that they fly four and one half miles per hour, and just like humans and other animals -- if in danger -- the fly can muster up it's own version of adrenaline and fly even faster to escape. This is why they can be hard to swat.

Flying Sponges with Mouths

A common house fly could be described as a flying sponge with a mouth. These dark gray flies can only eat things that are liquid. However, don't be fooled, because they can liquefy foods with their spit. The process of liquefying foods comes from the fly's ability to throw-up solid foods in order to sponge up the liquid and digest it.

Generally, the life span of a common house fly is from ten to twenty-one days. They lay so many eggs that one housefly can be responsible for creating twelve successive generations in just one year. Of course, most of us know that the house fly carries diseases. It's responsible for the spread of typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, anthrax, meningitis, food poisoning, and a host of other diseases.

The diseases flies spread, aren't limited to mankind. They also spread diseases and parasites to other animals. Flies routinely feed on decaying matter, feces, and can have a ½ billion bacteria on the outside of their bodies. Every time a fly lands on something, some of these microbes of bacteria fall off onto anything the fly touches

Flies are great fly watchers, meaning they keep an eye on each other. Just like birds, when one fly finds food, all the other flies join in for the meal, invited or not. Most of us would be surprised to learn that because we use so many insecticides here in the U.S. -- the common housefly has become resistant to insecticides that used to kill them. The best way to get rid of flies is to practice good sanitation. If you have a fly problem, use safe non-chemical fly traps, or other safe environmentally insecticides on the market.

There are some common sense approaches to keeping flies outside, instead of inside your house, these are:

  • Because they are drawn to light, if you place outdoor lighting slightly away from entrances you will have a better chance of keeping them outdoors.
  • Also, use sodium vapor lights whenever you have light fixtures that are near doors, as flies are less attracted to them.
  • Make sure you keep trash out and away from the house.
  • Make sure you empty the trash regularly to keep flies from discovering this food source.


Where Have All the Flies Gone? Or Do We Just Don't Notice Them Anymore?

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    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 9 years ago from United States

      Thanks! I try to always include more than a recipe, gives you something to think about when you are trying the recipe. Sometimes recipes are more than food, they are memories.

    • profile image

      dabblingmum 9 years ago

      Nice story to go along with your recipe. I love to hear about the thoughts behind family recipes.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 9 years ago from United States

      They are apparently left Florida for NC to get away from all the tourists and the next hurricane. Actually, I'm sure they are here, but communities spray alot for mosquitos and that probably also zaps them too.

    • dineane profile image

      dineane 9 years ago from North Carolina

      the flies are in NC! And I have fly swatters in arms reach, especially when I'm sitting outside.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 9 years ago from United States


    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 9 years ago from America

      Enjoyed your hub.