The City Girl & Shoofly Pie
Yours truly recently traveled through Pennsylvania Dutch Country, passing horse-drawn carts and horse-tethered plows turning up the rich spring earth. It had been a long time since I actually smelled freshly-plowed soil… accompanied by the ripe smell of livestock. Growing up riding horses made it an enjoyable trip down memory lane.
Benedetto, my partner in a command event for the night where we needed to show up, see and be seen, decided that we had arrived to said location a few minutes early and therefore needed to stop at a farm market. As a somewhat paraprofessional honey connoisseur, his thoughts tended in that direction and he was not disappointed. To add to that, we were regaled by potted flowers, handmade benches and an assortment of baked goods.
As most everyone, I had heard of shoofly pie, however, I was somewhat uncertain of its composition. All that changed when I inquired of a friendly Mennonite young woman working behind one of the counters. Just to be specific, she greeted me first which took away any awkwardness on my part (i.e., are you allowed to talk to these people? and other strange thoughts like that…). This twenty-something was outgoing, fresh-faced and smiling.
She was one of three generations, an older, motherlike figure working the cash register, and a younger sister or daughter outside with the plants and her long braids. Clad in the traditional white head (or bun) covering, long dress and tennis shoes, she explained to us the two versions of molasses or treacle-laden shoofly pie: wet bottom and dry bottom, the first which was more like cake on the top and custardy on the bottom, with the second fairly cake-like throughout. The gooey sounded the yummiest to me-!
It was then that we puzzled over a Montgomery pie and she showed us how it was similar, yet buttermilk had been mixed in with the top layer and lemon juice to the bottom. Benedetto was sold on that one, along with an Amish vanilla pie.
Some of these cake-like concoctions, slipped in-between two crusts, originally hailed from the Amish who ate them in their hands with strong coffee for breakfast. Mmmm… that would result in a lot of farm work being done in record time! Plus, these could be stored in pie-safes, those wooden and mesh- or pierced-tin-fronted cabinets which did not use refrigeration, since the Amish do not use electricity.
We felt good about taking the Montgomery pie and the Amish vanilla pie home several hours after our glitterati event-in-the-middle-of-nowhere. A very special culture continues on amongst hard-working, God-fearing Mennonites, churning out bits of their heaven-on-earth for the rest of us.
————-Tags: Amish pies, Amish vanilla pie, field trip to Pennsylvania countryside, Mennonite baking, Mennonite farm market, Montgomery pie, Pennsylvania Dutch country, shoofly pie