Kid-friendly Super Sticky Shoo-fly Pies + Sparkling Lemon Zest Streusel + Lovely Lemon-Molasses Shakes Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Family Meal Plan: Super Sticky Shoo-fly Pies + Sparkling Lemon Zest Streusel + Lovely Lemon-Molasses Shakes

Family Meal Plan: Super Sticky Shoo-fly Pies + Sparkling Lemon Zest Streusel + Lovely Lemon-Molasses Shakes

Super Sticky Shoo-fly Pies + Sparkling Lemon Zest Streusel + Lovely Lemon-Molasses Shakes

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by George Sheldon/
prep time
25 minutes
cook time
15 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Super Sticky Shoo-fly Pies + Sparkling Lemon Zest Streusel

The treasured slice of Americana known as “shoo-fly pie” dates to the late 1800s and is believed to have originated in the Pennsylvania Dutch region. It’s said that the whimsical name “shoo-fly pie” references the pie’s irresistible aroma, which, according to legend, attracted flies that needed to be shooed away. Well, in my experience, this dessert attracts KIDS! Whether it’s the rich, buttery crust, the sweet, spiced molasses filling, the decadent chewy-gooey texture, or the lemony streusel topping—whenever we make this dessert, all the kids clamor for seconds! It might as well be named “Gather-Round Pie!” 

Serve Lovely Lemon-Molasses Shakes alongside your Shoo-fly pies, and notice how the zesty tang of lemons complements the deeply sweet molasses. It’s a match made in culinary heaven!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Shopping List

  • 1 lemon
  • 3/4 C cold unsalted butter **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 3 C milk **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1 egg **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 C molasses (or more)
  • 1 1/4 C water
  • 1 C ice

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • bake :

    to cook food with dry heat, as in an oven.

  • blend :

    to stir together two or more ingredients until just combined; blending is a gentler process than mixing.

  • knead :

    to work dough by pushing, pulling, and folding it by hand or with a stand mixer.

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • mix :

    to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients until uniform in texture.

Equipment Checklist

  • Oven
  • Muffin pan
  • Mixing bowls (1 large, 1 medium, 1 small)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Whisk
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Zester (or grater with small zesting plate/side)
  • Forks (2), optional
  • Blender (or pitcher + immersion blender)
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife


Super Sticky Shoo-fly Pies + Sparkling Lemon Zest Streusel

  • Pie Crust:
  • 1 1/4 C all-purpose flour + extra for dusting **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub 1 1/2 C gluten-free/nut-free + extra for dusting)**
  • 1/2 C cold unsalted butter **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub cold dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance)**
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 to 3 T cold water
  • Filling:
  • 1 C water
  • 1 C molasses
  • 1 egg **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 1 T flax seed + 1/4 C warm water—more info below)**
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Streusel:
  • 1 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free flour)**
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 C cold unsalted butter **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub cold dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance)**
  • 1 lemon, zested (save juice if making Lemon-Molasses Shakes)

Lovely Lemon-Molasses Shakes

  • 1 lemon, juiced (if making, use lemon from Shoo-fly Pies)
  • 1/2 C molasses (or more)
  • 1 C ice
  • 3 C milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free milk)**

Food Allergen Substitutions

Super Sticky Shoo-fly Pies + Sparkling Lemon Zest Streusel

  • Gluten/Wheat: For 1 1/4 C all-purpose flour in pie crust, substitute 1 1/2 C gluten-free/nut-free flour + extra for dusting. For 1 C all-purpose flour in streusel, substitute 1 C gluten-free/nut-free flour.
  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance, for butter in pie crust and streusel.
  • Egg: For 1 egg in filling, substitute 1 T flax seed + 1/4 C warm water. Stir and soak flaxseeds in warm water for 5 minutes or until fully absorbed and thickened.

Lovely Lemon-Molasses Shakes

  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free milk.


Super Sticky Shoo-fly Pies + Sparkling Lemon Zest Streusel


This sticky recipe is an American classic dating back to the 1800s. The filling reminds me of the rich, custard-like center of a pecan pie, but without pecans. The lemon streusel you sprinkle over the top makes this pie completely unique. You will need to pile the streusel up high on top of the molasses-based filling. This technique helps thicken the otherwise soupy collection of ingredients.

measure + mix

Start off by measuring 1 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, and 1/4 teaspoon salt into a large mixing bowl. Then, using a wooden spoon, kid chefs will mix the ingredients until well combined. Lastly, pour in 2 to 3 tablespoons of cold water and continue stirring until a ball of dough forms.

knead + shape

Using clean, kid chef hands, knead the dough. Be sure to use a little extra flour for dusting here. Then, divide the dough into 12 pieces, 1 piece for each well of a muffin pan. Press the dough into the cold wells of the muffin pan. Make sure to press the dough into a cup shape with steep edges. Set the pan in a cool place while you work on the other parts of the recipe.

measure + whisk

While the dough rests in the muffin pan wells, create the filling and the streusel. For the filling, simply whisk 1 cup molasses, 1 egg, 1 cup water, and 1 teaspoon baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Make sure to whisk really well and make it extra foamy. Set it aside and work on the streusel.

zest + measure + pinch

Wash and zest 1 lemon. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, and the lemon zest. Using 2 forks or clean hands, mix or pinch the ingredients together until a sandy mixture forms.

preheat + bake

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Pour the filling into each pie crust until barely halfway full. Then, sprinkle a heaping amount of the streusel over the top of the filling. The streusel will work together with the egg and baking soda in the filling to make a stable, custard-like consistency in the short time frame we are working with. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the center is no longer runny.

cool + serve

Cool the pies for at least 10 minutes before serving. It is always fun to have your kids blow on the pie a few times and take some deep breaths while doing so. Then, before anyone takes a bite, ask them what it made them think of. This will help distract them from biting into the hot food and give it a chance to cool a bit. Eat and Enjoy!

Lovely Lemon-Molasses Shakes

slice + squeeze

Slice 1 lemon in half and squeeze the juice into your pitcher or blender. Discard any seeds.

combine + blend

Measure, combine, and blend the lemon juice, 1/2 cup molasses, 1 cup ice, and 3 cups milk.

taste + serve

Once blended to a smooth consistency, have a kid chef take a taste to see if more molasses is needed. If it is ready, start pouring. Make sure to say a big "Cheers!"

Surprise Ingredient: Molasses!

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Photo by RozenskiP/

Hi! I'm Molasses!

"I'm a thick, sweet dark syrup that can be added to gingerbread and other cakes, wheat or rye breads, barbecue sauce, and milk! You may have heard the saying, "slow as molasses." That's because I'm quite thick, compared to other syrups, especially when I'm cold!"

History & Etymology

  • Molasses is a by-product of sugar production. It may have first been made in India from sugarcane as early as 500 BCE. It eventually came to Colonial America from the Caribbean to make rum. 
  • Molasses was popular as a sweetener until after World War I, when refined white or brown sugar became more economical. 
  • The Great Molasses Flood, also called the Boston Molasses Disaster, happened on January 15, 1919, in a Boston neighborhood in Massachusetts. A large storage tank, holding 13,000 tons of molasses, burst and sent a wave of molasses, 25 feet at its peak, through the streets at an estimated 35 mph. The flood killed 21 people and injured 150. Many horses and other animals also died. The city used salt water from fire boats and sand to clean up the sticky mess, which took weeks. 
  • The word "molasses" comes from the mid-16th century Portuguese "melaço," from the Latin "mel" (honey). 

How It is Made

  • Sugar cane is harvested, and machines are used to press the juice out of the cane. The sugar cane roots go very deeply into the soil, commonly 15 feet down and ranging from 6.5 to 19 feet—deep enough to bypass nutrient-depleted topsoils that have become the norm and take in more nutrients. That juice is boiled and then put through centrifugal machinery to extract the sugar crystals from the liquid. There are two types of molasses: sulfured and unsulfured. The three grades of molasses are light, dark, and blackstrap.
  • Sulfur dioxide is used to process unripe green sugar cane. Sun-ripened sugar cane is processed without sulfur dioxide, making unsulfured molasses a better choice. Most stores sell only unsulfured molasses. Regular molasses is the first or second boiling of cane sugar syrup, while blackstrap is the third boiling of the syrup. The third boiling produces a thick dark substance known as blackstrap molasses, which is the most nutrient-dense but also the most bitter.
  • Molasses is a sweetener that is actually good for you. Unlike refined white sugar and corn syrup, which are stripped of virtually all nutrients except simple carbohydrates, molasses is a healthful sweetener that contains significant amounts of a variety of minerals that promote your health.


  • In addition to being a simple carbohydrate, which can be quickly converted to energy, molasses also contains high levels of iron, manganese, and magnesium, translating into an energy boost for those with low iron levels. 
  • Molasses also has a good amount of calcium and potassium, and it is a rich source of vitamin B6, which is essential for the nervous system and immune system health. Blackstrap molasses is even more nutrient dense due to the third boiling it goes through, concentrating it.
  • Molasses is also lower on the glycemic index than other sweeteners, so it takes longer to increase blood sugar levels.

History of Shoo-fly Pie!

Photo by MShev/
  • Pennsylvania Dutch farmwives made a molasses crumb pie in the late 1880s that came to be called "shoo-fly pie." It may have begun as a crumb cake to eat at breakfast before being put into a pie crust so you could hold it and eat it without a fork. 
  • The pie may have been a variation of the British treacle tart. Treacle is a name for any syrup made from the sugar refining process, like molasses.
  • There are a couple of fun stories about how it got its name. One is that the sticky, sweet molasses in the pie attracted flies that cooks would have to shoo away by waving their arms. Another is that it was named after a Pennsylvania brand of molasses, Shoo-fly Molasses, with an image of Shoofly, the Boxing Mule, on its label. The mule supposedly got its name from the 1860s song "Shoo fly, don't bother me." 
  • The pie consists of a bottom pie crust with a filling of molasses, boiling water, and baking soda. The crumb topping is a mixture of flour, shortening or butter, and brown sugar.

Let's Learn About Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Dutch!

Photo by Dervin Witmer/ (Pennsylvania Dutch Country)
  • The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was the second state admitted into the United States. Before it ratified the United States Constitution on December 12, 1787, the Pennsylvania Colony (or Province of Pennsylvania) was one of the original thirteen colonies.
  • Several tribes of indigenous people lived in the area before the arrival of Europeans, including the Lenape, Susquehannocks, Iroquois, Erie, and Shawnee.
  • The colony was founded by William Penn, a Quaker leader, in 1681. It was a royal land grant given to William's father, Sir William Penn, to satisfy a debt the English king, Charles II, owed the senior Penn. The king named the colony Pennsylvania, which means Penn's woods or forest, from the Latin "silva." 
  • The Pennsylvania Dutch (or Pennsylvania Germans) are descendants of German immigrants who settled in the colony and the state in the 17th through the 19th centuries. They do not come from the Netherlands, as their name seems to indicate. The Amish are a small subset of this group, but not all Pennsylvania Dutch are Amish.
  • Pennsylvania borders the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, and the Canadian province of Ontario. It also has 51 miles of coastline along Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes. It is the only one of the first 13 colonies that does not border the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The state capital is Harrisburg, and the largest city is Philadelphia. The state is 44,817 square miles, making it the 33rd largest in the country. It is the 5th most populous state, with over 13 million people.
  • Pennsylvania's nickname is the Keystone State because of its crucial position in the country, geographically, politically, and economically. A keystone is an architectural term referring to the stone in the middle of an arch holding the other stones in place. The keystone image is used in several of the state's logos.
  • The state's climate can be cold in the winter and hot and humid in the summer. Several rivers and lakes provide habitat for animals and recreation for residents and visitors. 
  • Mount Davis is the highest point in Pennsylvania at 3,213 feet. It is in the Alleghenies, part of the Appalachian Mountains, that run through the center of the state. The Pocono Mountains are in the northeastern part of the state.
  • Some of the animals that live in Pennsylvania are the North American beaver, black bear, bobcat, coyote, white-tailed deer, elk, gray and red fox, groundhog, mink, opossum, river otter, and various squirrels. 
  • The Philadelphia Zoo is the nation's first zoo. The National Aviary, home to over 500 birds, is in Pittsburgh. 
  • Pennsylvania has eight major league professional sports teams: the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers American football teams, the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball teams, the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, the Philadelphia Union soccer team, and the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins ice hockey teams.
  • The Sturgis Pretzel House in Lititz is the oldest commercial pretzel bakery in the US. It was founded in 1861 by Julius Sturgis. There are now several other pretzel companies in Pennsylvania, including Snyder's of Hanover.
  • The Wilbur Chocolate Company also makes its chocolate confections in Lititz. However, Hershey is the location of the state's most famous chocolate company, the Hershey Company. We are probably all familiar with Hershey's Kisses!
  • Some popular foods from Philadelphia are Philly cheesesteaks (sandwich), hoagies (sub sandwich), strombolis (savory turnover created by Italian-Americans), and Irish potato candy (made from cream cheese, coconut, sugar, and cinnamon). 
  • Pennsylvania Dutch foods include scrapple (cornmeal pudding with pork scraps and trimmings), shoo-fly pie (molasses crumb pie), funnel cake (fried doughnut), and pepper cabbage (sweet and sour coleslaw).

The Yolk's On You

What's slower than running through molasses?

Walking through it!

THYME for a Laugh

What does an invisible man drink?

Evaporated milk!

THYME for a Laugh

Why does a milking stool have only three legs?

Because the cow has the udder!

The Yolk's On You

What did mama cow say to baby calf?

It’s pasture bedtime.

Lettuce Joke Around

How do you make a milkshake?

Give a cow a pogo stick!

THYME for a Laugh

What do you call a cow that doesn’t give milk?

A milk dud!

The Yolk's On You

Why did the pie go to a dentist? 

Because it needed a filling!

The Yolk's On You

What's slower than molasses?

Molasses trying to go uphill in winter!

The Yolk's On You

What's the best thing to put into a pie?

Your teeth!

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