Monday, February 22, 2010


"Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regret mounting." - haruki murakami

The passing of time is like one full cycle of a spinning fan, each blade staggering to catch up to the next moment. Its soothing blow a forgotten caress whispering across hot skin, circulating and whipping up a tempest of fading memories. A rush of regrets caught, and recycled in a pocket of stale air. Events stirred and ruffled, flapping like insistent markers from the past. We are but Rip Van Winkles waking from a strange dream, or the old man that sits quietly at his window watching a world that’s slowly forgotten him. If only we could make it last forever, but not frozen and staring back at us with dead eyes. Hold it back, slow it down and meet it somewhere in the middle. Drag out the days and nights, and stretch it out like sugar taffy, or thick dripping molasses. Lingering sticky, but sweet. If only we could pilfer from the attics of our memories, forgotten relics roused from sleep to remind us of loves lost, and found, in the crinkled folds of our minds. Swipe away the cobwebs, shake out the lingering dust, and discard the mothballs that are but stale remnants of lives squandered. Or a ruffled feather floating in the last strains of a lingering note. A whisper of silk waiting to exhale; a whistle of steam piercing the stillness and vibrating against the underside of our skins. A lost sigh, a puff of smoke, waiting to be swallowed whole. A cold draft that leaves you shivering in the hothouse of forgotten yesterdays. How we hasten to follow a fading trail left by a flurry of dust, smudged and ruined by time. The pesky flies of time, they are but wings fluttering madly at my ear. For every one I swat away, two come to take its place. Shoo, fly, shoo.

Shoofly pie is a fluffy molasses pie considered traditional fare of the Pennsylvania Dutch. It closely resembles a sort of treacle tart, made with molasses, and topped with a sugar, flour, and butter crumble. It's more like a coffee cake, only with a gooey molasses bottom. The "hybrid cake within a pie shell" may have gotten its name because the sweet, sticky pools of molasses that formed on the surface of the pies as they were cooling attracted flies that needed to be "shooed" away. There are two variations of the pie, "wet bottom" with a soft filling and crumb topping or "dry bottom" where the crumb topping is mixed into the filling. The latter version is commonly served for breakfast. Shoo-fly Pie is also closely related to Chess Pie, and Montgomery Pie minus the lemon juice and buttermilk.

Shoo-fly Pie
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp butter
1 cup molasses
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup boiling water
1 egg, beaten
1 9-inch pie crust (*see recipe for Simple Pie Crust)

*Note: Choose a deep dish 9-inch pie pan or two 8-inch shallower ones. If you choose the latter, double the pie crust recipe.
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix flour and brown sugar together in a bowl. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the pieces are very small. Split the mixture in half, setting one half aside for crumbs.
  3. Pour the molasses onto one half of the crumb mixture. Mix the baking soda into the boiling water. It should fizz dramatically. Pour the newly fizzy water into the molasses mixture, then add the beaten egg.
  4. Pour into unbaked 9-inch pie shell and top with remaining crumb mixture. A deep dish pan works well here because there is a good bit of filling. Two 8-inch pans can also work, in which case double the pie crust recipe. Do not fill the crusts more than two-thirds full. The pie will rise.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes in 375° F oven, then reduce heat to 350°F and bake an additional 35-45 minutes, or until pie is dark brown and set. If you would like the pie to be a bit wet, take it out of the oven when it still jiggles a little. If you would like the pie to be moist but less of a sticky mess, allow it to set. If you opted for two shallower pies, reduce cooking time by 10 minutes or so. When cut into, the bottom may be "wet." This is okay, as it's called a "wet bottom shoo-fly pie."
Simple Pie Crust
1 cup flour
1/3 cup butter or shortening, cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp ice-cold water, more or less
  1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter or shortening, and with two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in the fat until flour resembles coarse meal. Add cold water a tablespoon at a time until dough starts to clump together but is not too wet. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling out.
  2. Using a rolling pin, start from the center and use short strokes to roll out the dough until you have a 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick round disc slightly bigger than your pie pan. Gently drape it over the pie pan, then trim the edges so that the dough doesn't extend over the rim. Crimp the edges, or just pinch the cracks together to make it uniform.

No comments:

Post a Comment