RECIPE: Shoofly pie, reimagined

Sorghum Shoofly Bars.
Courtesy of Tom Eberhardt-Smith
Sorghum Shoofly Bars. Courtesy of Tom Eberhardt-Smith

Credit: Tom Eberhardt-Smith

Credit: Tom Eberhardt-Smith

My great-great-aunt Frances was a stout, persnickety woman who had a soft spot for cakes, cookies and anything else with sugar as a key ingredient. Aunt Frances was especially known for her pies. She baked apple, lemon meringue and other buttery, flaky confections for our large family and the patrons at the little inn just down the road.

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Great Aunt Frances' recipe composition book.
Courtesy of Chadwick Boyd
Great Aunt Frances' recipe composition book. Courtesy of Chadwick Boyd

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

A few years ago, on a Sunday in early winter, I got a call from Mama asking me if I wanted Aunt Frances’ recipe composition book. When I received the black and white speckled notebook, it was brimming with newspaper clippings, recipe cards and scribbled comments like “very good,” “not this” or “more sugar.” I marveled at how she had opinions on nearly everything. Not knowing exactly where to begin, I opted to tackle Aunt Frances’ Shoofly Pie, but with my own twist.

These easy bars hold Aunt Frances’ classic Pennsylvania Dutch Shoofly Pie filling, but with sorghum syrup rather than black strap molasses for a Southern update. They are lighter, yet still a bit gooey, and have a surprise pop of flavor from freshly ground black pepper. Sometimes, when the mood strikes me, I throw in chopped pecans. Maldon flake salt adds a nice salty crunch to every semi-sweet bite.

Chadwick Boyd is a frequent TV guest, judge on Hallmark Channel and cookbook author. Find more of his work at chadwickboydlifestyle.com.

Sorghum Shoofly Bars.
Courtesy of Tom Eberhardt-Smith
Sorghum Shoofly Bars. Courtesy of Tom Eberhardt-Smith

Credit: Tom Eberhardt-Smith

Credit: Tom Eberhardt-Smith

Sorghum Shoofly Bars
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup hot water, divided
  • 1 cup sorghum
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1½ cups chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon flake salt, such as Maldon
  • Position the rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400 degrees.
  • Spray a 10-by-15-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Whisk together the flour, brown sugar and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Work in the shortening with your fingers until the mixture forms crumbles smaller than the size of peas. Set aside ¼ cup of the crumbles – you’ll use it to top the batter just before baking.
  • Place the hot water in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.
  • Add the sorghum, egg, black pepper to the flour mixture, along with ¾ cup of the hot water, and whisk again. Stir in the pecans, if using.
  • Stir in the baking soda to the remaining hot water to activate – it will bubble and fizz. Pour into the mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into the baking sheet. Top with the reserved crumbs. Sprinkle on the flake salt.
  • Bake for 10 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for another 25-30 minutes until a knife comes out clean in the center and the sides start to pull away from the edge of the pan.
  • Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes. Cut into 24 bars. Store in an airtight container for up to one week. Makes: 24 bars

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per bar: 118 calories (percent of calories from fat, 45), 2 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 6 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 8 milligrams cholesterol, 377 milligrams sodium.

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