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Shoo Fly Pie question....Molasses, King's Syrup or Corn Syrup?

VeryFineWhine's picture

To be honest when I joined this forum I had this question in mind, as it has been driving me NUTZ for years (some would say short ride lolol Smile).  I remember many years ago finding a recipe that used corn syrup, no clue light or dark, versus molasses and recall hearing the reason Shoo Fly Pies never taste the same at home, or even in various restaurants, was for a variety of reasons all tied to the molasses.  I've had many conversations and read a lot over the years and have been told several things, and I have NO clue what's true and what isn't.  One is that the Amish didn't use what we buy as molasses so when we make it with that product the taste is different.  A near identical 2nd reason is one person insisted the Amish make what they call molasses, but it differs from what we buy in the market.  (That made sense to me for years, but then I wondered why I never saw an Amish molasses recipe if that was true).  The 3nd is that the closest option is corn syrup.  And not long ago when trying to web search this (been thinking of baking one), I read someone saying the key is a regional product called King's Syrup.  In web searching that I found one person who clearly swears that is the answer. I might have dismissed that site, as they are selling it too, but they did include free recipes and seemed sincere.  You can check it out here to see what I'm talking about  The company that makes it also sells it online, as does several others but the shipping is what kills you (probably a glass jar).  ETA no clue why that link isn't working as it's the EXACT url, but if you want to see it click the link for Kings Syrup and/or Shoo Fly Pie recipe, which I'm now even MORE in the mood for after seeing the yummy picture!

So does anyone have any helpful input about this?  And by any miracle does anyone have alternate recipes with corn syrup?  I'm not positive but think my longstanding MIA recipe was from an OOOOoooold Dutch Haven cookbook.  For those who have been to Lancaster, they likely know that Shoo fly landmark with pies that to me taste the best and definitely a bit different than others.  I much prefer them.  And an aside, anyone who goes to Dutch Haven should drop by Dienner's, an amazing buffet that is almost in the same parking lot but not related.  Little to no atmosphere but some of the best food around at silly prices.  I'm pretty sure it's run by either Mennonite's or some more liberal Amish sect, and definitely frequented by them as diners, something I've never seen in other Lancaster buffets.  But I should save that for another post sometime, but thought I'd toss it in while chatting about Dutch Haven (and being in a super chatty mood today I'm seeing lol Sealed).

I'm really hoping someone has some knowledge on this.  I've really had a taste for shoo fly pie, but if I'm going to do the work, and have the calories, I would love to make one that tastes like the kind I enjoy most.  And clearly I've spent way to many years trying to figure this dang thing out!  Any help would be greatly appreciated Kiss

ETA With this question fresh on my mind thought I'd do some more current web recipe searching and OH GOODY found a new option with yet another product I've never heard of.  I found a couple Shoofly pie recipes with a combo of LIGHT molasses and corn syrup.  What in the heck is light molasses??  Anyone?  And in web searching that all I found were a ton of posts from folks asking either what it is or where to buy it (and no one selling it even with super expensive shipping costs lol).  I'm giving myself a headache.  Time to stop browsing I think....least for now lol!

Re: Shoo Fly Pie question....Molasses, King's Syrup or Corn ...

In reference to your first paragraph

You can check it out here to see what I'm talking about 

ETA no clue why that link isn't working as it's the EXACT url,

I can tell you exactly why your link doesn't work.  You have bad html.  There is no period or space after .html - the end parenthesis needs to be after the "l".  You can even see it from the purple underline.

Re: Shoo Fly Pie question....Molasses, King's Syrup or Corn ...

In my Dad's Amish family, Shoo-Fly pie just wasn't something we had much. We were more likely to have fruit pies or a sugar cream/old-fashioned cream pie. Family tastes, you know...  *shrug*

I had read about it in books, so I tried it once, and I didn't like it.  I hated the "heaviness" of the molasses taste. 

But coming to this site has sent me digging further into my family recipes from Dad's side... the Amish side.  I've wanted to create a family recipe book, but haven't ever gotten enough recipes together from the extended family to do it.

When Grandma Stutzman died, we had a family auction to auction off the odds-and-ends after each child received his/her portion. Grandma's 2 recipe boxes sold to high bidders, and I wasn't able to get one.  A year or so later, I heard that one of my cousins' wives just DUMPED HERS!  She didn't think she'd use those... **still stomping around in anger and disgust at the thought**

Somehow my aunt was able to get the second one for me. Though it isn't filled to the brim with *lots* of handwritten memories, there are still a few treasures tucked inside.  And I love seeing her handwriting...  *smile*

Back to your questions, VeryFineWhine...

This is what I found in answer to "What is light molasses?"


Sweet and thick, molasses is what's left when sugarcane or sugar beets are processed to make refined sugar. It has a bold flavor that's dark-roasted and tangy. The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen usually uses unsulfured molasses; our recipes should specify whether to use light or dark.

  • Light molasses comes from the first boiling of the sugar syrup.
  • Dark molasses comes from the second boiling. It's darker and less sweet.
  • Blackstrap molasses comes from the third boiling. It's thick, dark, and bitter, and should not be used in cooking.
  • Sulfured molasses comes from green sugarcane that has been treated with sulfur as a preservative during the juice extraction process.
  • Unsulfured molasses is the purest of all. It comes from the juice of sun-ripened, mature sugarcane that hasn't been treated with sulfur fumes.




I used the dark molasses in my pie, and didn't like it.  Sorghum is another possibility, but I'm guessing most might be using "dark Karo syrup", as it's used in this area to make pecan pies, and so would likely be on hand.

And I think you're correct... people probably make their pies according to the regional or family favorite recipes, and so they could be very different.  And they could be using their own homemade syrups, like sorghum or maple or sugar beet.

But the treasure I found in Grandma's recipe box is this one... using (of all things!) maple syrup (and in her own handwriting! Smile).  They did gather sap, boil it down, and make their own maple syrup, as is still done in this area even today.


SHOOFLY PIE (Grandma's spelling)

2 c sugar

1 c shortening

2 c flour

1 c maple syrup*

1 c boiling water

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vinegar**

pie crust

Preheat oven to "medium heat" (325-350 degrees F)

Rub together sugar, shortening, and flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.  In a second bowl, mix together maple syrup and water, then add baking soda dissolved into the vinegar.

Pour the wet mixture into the pie crust, then sprinkle the crumbs over the top. Bake for 30 minutes, until done. (Approximate, since the temperature wasn't given, and I haven't yet tried this.)

*This is pure maple syrup, not the stuff we buy at the store that is mixed with OR is totally flavored corn syrup.

**This would be cider vinegar, the dark kind.


I hope this helps you find what you're looking for.  You'll need to just try each one using the next likely type of syrup and recipe until you find your favorite.

TIP: to look for an ingredient, use a search engine like Google or Dogpile and type in (for example) ingredient + molasses.  It will send you toward sites that explain ingredients. I like because it not only searches Google, too, but several other search engines at the same time!

(SHEESH... talk about "super chatty mood"!!! LOL)




Re: Shoo Fly Pie question....Molasses, King's Syrup or Corn ...

Sheesh, talk about saving me a ton of work. Thank you, Stutzman!!!!:)

VeryFineWhine's picture

Re: Shoo Fly Pie question....Molasses, King's Syrup or Corn ...

WOW just thought to look at this, as I'd given up on a reply. Thanks SOOO much for this.  Wish I saw this before I posted on main page, as I could have included another option to the ones I listed instead of molasses lol.  In a rush now...I really appreciate this and will read far more carefully later, and have a story to share similar to the experience you had about family throwing out stuff!!! I know all too well how infuriating that is.  More later!  Ellen

Re: Shoo Fly Pie question....Molasses, King's Syrup or Corn ...

Ahhh... someday I'll write about the rocking horse.... 


And you're welcome.  Glad you found this again!