Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy

It has been ages since I last posted here and a lot has happened... but the biggest news is that my "other half" and I have moved out of the motorhome and into a house (at last!). That happened on December 31, 2014, late in the afternoon and we were so pleased to be in a house that it didn't matter that we didn't have any furniture to put into it. We cleared out the motorhome over the next couple of days, despite the weather (which really wasn't all that bad considering it was the dead of winter in Alberta), and set up housekeeping as best we could. It took until today to get into our storage and move a load in our GMC Yukon (yes, we even got a new vehicle, although we do still have the old motorhome).

At any rate, that isn't what I wanted to talk about, although it does catch you up a bit with my life. What I really wanted to talk about is in the title of this post. :)

I was reading a book called "The Peach Cobbler Murder" by Joanne Fluke (there are recipes in these stories, folks!) and there is a reference to "Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy" on page ... well never mind what page it's on because your book might be different from mine anyway, so there is no point. At any rate, the song was published in 1945 but the desserts have been around a lot longer than that. Once I couldn't get the words of the song out of my head, I just had to research the desserts and see what they are and where they originated and share it with you... 'Cause that's what I tend to do with useless bits of information. ;)

So, without further ado, here's what I found out...... 

Shoo-fly pie or Shoofly pie is a molasses pie considered tradition among Pennsylvania Amish and Mennonites and Pennsylvania Dutch. Surprisingly, Shoo-fly Pie is not as popular in non-Pennsylvania Amish and Mennonite communities. It is found in Ohio; but in Indiana, if you ask for a piece of Shoo-fly pie in an Amish restaurant, the person who serves it will rather disparagingly tell you 'it’s made only for the tourists'.

The pie supposedly got its name because the sweet molasses odour attracts flies that must be "shooed" away. The Shoo-fly pie's origins likely come from "Treacle tart", with the primary difference being the use of molasses instead of golden syrup. A Montgomery pie is similar to a Shoo-fly pie, except lemon juice is added to the bottom layer and buttermilk to the topping. A Chess pie is also similar, but it's not layered. 

Shoo-fly pie comes in two different versions, "wet bottom" and "dry bottom". The dry bottom version is baked until fully set, which results in a more cake-like consistency throughout. The wet bottom version sets like cake on the top where it has mixed in with the crumbs, but the bottom is a stickier, gooier, custard-like consistency.

Recipe for Shoo-fly Pie

Pastry for a 1-crust 9-inch pie - you can use a prepared crust, boxed mix, or make your own.

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 rounded tablespoon cold butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg
1 cup light molasses
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon baking soda

1.     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the pie pastry and line a 9-inch pie pan; set aside.
2.     In a food processor bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, butter, and salt.
3.      Remove 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Transfer the rest to a medium mixing bowl.
4.     In a small bowl, beat the egg lightly. Add the molasses and cold water, and blend but do not beat; you don’t want bubbles in the batter. Set aside.
5.     In a small bowl, mix the hot water with the baking soda and blend into the molasses mixture.
6.      Add to the flour mixture and mix well.
7.      Pour into the pie shell and top with the reserved crumbs.
8.      Bake for 35 minutes. The pie will appear quivery but will firm up as it cools.
9.      Transfer to a rack to cool completely before cutting.

So now you know. The "Apple Pan Dowdy" was a bit more involved once I found it. And the recipe I'm adding is actually for Peach Pan Dowdy instead, but you can use pretty much any fruit you want, or a mixture of fruit if you prefer.

Fruit Pan Desserts, including Pan Dowdy 

“Back in the day”, when women had to cook for large groups of people (whether family or thrashing crews), desserts were necessary and expected... and for ease in the kitchen, they were often simple to put together. A pan with fruit and some sort of topping was baked and could then be served directly from the pan, sometimes with cream or ice cream. How are the different fruit pan desserts the same and how are they different? Most of these desserts are baked with fruit under a topping, which can be biscuit-like, crumbled, or drops of dough. Various sweeteners differentiate one from the other in many cases. Here is a brief description of various fruit pan desserts so you know who's who with them. :)

1.     Betty: This baked dessert dates back to Colonial times. The most common Betty is the “Apple Brown Betty”, so named because it is made with brown sugar. A Betty uses buttered bread crumbs.
2.     Buckle: Blueberry Buckle is the most prevalent Buckle recipe found. Buckles are baked and are usually made in one of two ways.
a.      The first way is that the bottom layer is cake-like with the berries mixed in. Then the top layer is crumb-like.
b.     The second way is layered, where the cake layer is on the bottom of the pan, the berries are the next layer and the top is the crumble mixture.
3.     Clafouti: This is a dessert that originated in the French countryside. It is a dessert that the fruit is topped with either a cake or pudding topping. The Clafouti is often considered a baked pudding.
4.     Cobbler: Another baked fruit pan. The fruit filling is put in a deep baking dish and topped with a biscuit dough. The dough may completely cover the fruit or it may just be dropped in handfuls.
5.     Crumble: Similar to a Crisp, the topping is crumbled over the fruit filling in the pan. A Crumble is baked.
6.     Crisp: In this baked dessert, the fruit filling is covered with a crunchy topping which is crumbled over the top.
7.     Grunt: A Grunt is a stewed or baked fruit dish. Biscuit dough is rolled and put on top of the fruit. The name of Grunt may have come from the noise people made while eating it. Grunts are also known as Slumps.
8.     Pan Dowdy or Pandowdy: You'll find both spellings for this baked dish. The dough is on top of the fruit and it is rolled out, yet it ends up being “crumbly” when eaten.

Peach Pan Dowdy

6 cups thickly sliced peaches
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream

1.     Preheat the oven to 3750 F (1900 C).
2.     Place the peaches in a medium bowl. Sprinkle lemon juice over them. Mix together 1/2 cup of sugar and cornstarch. Sprinkle over the peaches, and stir to coat. Spoon into a 2 to 2 1/2 quart casserole dish.
3.    In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter with a fork or pastry cutter until it is in fine crumbs. Make a well in the center, and pour in the cream. Stir with a fork until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
4.     Roll out dough on a floured surface until it is just big enough to cover the baking dish. Cut a 2 inch cross in the center. Place over the peaches, and tuck in the dough around the sides. Turn back the corners of the cross to reveal the filling.
5.     Bake for 40 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until filling is bubbly, and top is golden brown.

Well, that's it for this time. I do hope you enjoyed this little blurb. Try the recipes and let me know how yours turns out.