When I was a little girl, my father owned a sandwich shop called The Dutchman. He made all sorts of hoagies and served side dishes. One of the sides was homemade potato salad that my mom made every week. Another item they served was shoofly pie. My mom didn't make these, although she can (very well, I might add). Every so often, my mother, us kids and often a grandmother would drive out to Lancaster, PA, to visit an Amish woman named Sadie. Yep, that's where our Sadie got her name.
My mom would buy the shoofly pies from her. Sadie (the Amish Sadie) had a little bake shop built off the side of her farmhouse, surrounded by fields that they farmed. I remember as a kid the smell of Lancaster County. Us kids would make all sorts of groans and comments when we passed fields that had just been spread with manure.
We were also fascinated with the little white house, a stone's throw from the bake shop. This wasn't an outhouse. We were used to outhouses (just about every vacation spot we went to as a family when we were kids had an outhouse). It was where they kept their phone. Fascinating.
Sadie was a short, not skinny and not fat woman. She was kind and friendly to us and my mother. I always wondered what it would be like to wear a head covering with strings hanging down on either side of my neck like she did. Would I tie them? Would I let them dangle? Would I shove them up into the covering to hide them?
Okay, so me and shoofly pie go back a ways. I adore shoofly pie. My brother and his wife often drive out to Lancaster before a family get together and buy shoo fly pies from Sadie's daughter to bring along (Sadie is no longer living).
I enjoy baking pies very much, but shoofly pie can be a little tricky to make (for me, anyway). The yummy goo at the bottom has the tendency to run over, make a mess of the oven and cause the crust to stick to the side of the pie plate, requiring some sort of crow bar to separate the two.
Instead, I make shoofly cake. There's no crust, no goo at the bottom, but the flavor is closely related to that of shoofly pie. It's moist, flavorful and downright delicious. And I'd like to share it with you.
Shoofly Cake (my mother's recipe)
4 cups flour
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups boiling water
1 cup Karo/light corn syrup (dark corn syrup with give a stronger flavor and darker color)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and softened butter, working them into crumbs using a fork. Reserve 1 1/2 cups crumbs. Set the reserved crumbs aside. In a separate bowl, combine boiling water, Karo and baking soda, stir well. Add the water mixture to the crumbs in the large, original bowl. Blend with a whisk until the crumbs have dissolved. The batter will be very runny. This is okay.
Pour the batter into a greased 9x13 inch pan coated with cooking spray. Top with reserved crumbs and dust with cinnamon.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or just until a knife comes out clean. Do not over bake.