|Gene loves baked goods. The farm foods of Lancaster County have a reputation for being outstanding. So what better place to find that perfect piece of pie. Let me say at the onset that my mother can bake an excellent pie. These folks will have a tough standard to meet.
Shoofly Pie is pretty popular around here and been baked by the Amish for generations. In the early days before a refrigerator was a standard appliance in most kitchens, fresh foods had to be eaten quickly or spoil. Shoofly pie, which is made with molasses and brown sugar, would keep several days without refrigeration. The pie got its name because the flies had to be continually “shooed” away as the pie cooled in the window sill. We hadn’t had this pie before so it was Gene’s first choice. In my limited experience with pie, I think it is most like a Southern Pecan Pie but without the pecans and not as sweet. The pecan pie has a layer of pecans over the butter, corn syrup and egg filling. The Shoofly pie has what seems like a crumb topping, but without enough butter to make it crumbly. Our opinion: It is good, but would not be our first choice.
We got our first piece of shoofly pie from the Bird-In-Hand Bakery booth at the Bird-In-Hand Farmer’s Market. Another day we ate lunch at Good ‘n Plenty Restaurant proclaimed to have the “best Pennsylvania Dutch food” according to the Lancaster County Magazine. We thought Good ‘n Plenty’s shoofly pie was better than Bird-In-Hand because the filling had a creamier texture. We also had a slice of Apple Crumb Pie. It was very good, but not outstanding.
Time is running out and since we hadn’t found perfect yet we decided to give it one last shot at the bakery on the corner in Strasburg. The sign in the window thanks folks for voting them the “best ice cream in Lancaster County” (we may have been on the wrong quest) but pie they did not have. Their baked goods consisted of apple dumplings and a few cookies. However, the lady behind the counter suggested we try Hershey Farm just down the street. They had a couple shoofly pies on the shelf, but we had been there and done that. We wanted something else, apple maybe. Just because they didn’t have one on the shelf didn’t mean that didn’t have one in the kitchen. No pie by the slice; we had to buy the whole thing still warm from the oven. This pie was very good. The apples were still just a little crisp. It was a double crust pie, not a crumb pie and the crust was very good. I think the crumb topping on the pie at Good ‘n Plenty was just too much. It overpowered the apples. The pie from Hershey Farm was much better.
We have been seeing Whoopie Pies everywhere. While we were waiting for our pie to come from the kitchen, I thumbed through an Amish cookbook. Apparently, Whoopie Pies are traditional Amish fare. We’ve had them in Maine, so Gene did a Google search this afternoon. They’ve been around since about the 1930s and they are very popular among the Amish and in New England, but no one seems to know where they originated. They are really like a large cupcake split in half with frosting in the middle. We got 2 in the interest of being complete in our pie quest. Gene got the traditional chocolate. It had a very intense chocolate flavor and the consistency of devil’s food cake. I chose pumpkin and it also had an intense flavor and consistency much like a pumpkin muffin. The filling is very similar to a cream cheese frosting. These were much better than the one we had in Maine. Which was better—chocolate or pumpkin? I’m gonna have to go with the chocolate, but it was a close call.