Pennsylvania Dutch Shoofly Cake

Vegan Shoofly Cake Photo

Michelle’s vegan shoofly cake, wet bottom style!

You may have heard of shoofly pie, the famous Pennsylvania Dutch molasses pie. But most people haven’t heard of shoofly cake, which is very similar to the pie except there’s more flour and you don’t have to bother with a pie crust. If you’d like a simpler introduction to Pennsylvania Dutch baking, this is a great place to start!

Like shoofly pie, shoofly cake can be made in wet bottom style. This means that there’s a delightful gooey layer of molten molasses at the bottom. It’s quite rare to find a wet bottom shoofly cake recipe, so I’m very excited to share my recipe for shoofly cake that’s not only vegan, but also has the decadent wet bottom!

This recipe makes good use of different types of molasses for different layers. In the wet bottom layer, “table molasses” is used. Table molasses is a sweeter type of molasses, and in the light a drop of it looks reddish-brown. Baking molasses, which is darker and less sweet, is used in the cake layer. Blackstrap molasses is not used here, but FYI it is the darkest and least sweet molasses.

Vegan Shoofly Cake

I started with a wet bottom shoofly cake recipe from, which I veganized and changed to make the texture fluffier and get the cake and crumb topping closer to what you’d find in a traditional shoofly pie. There are lots of recipes for shoofly cake (most of which are very similar to one another), but the recipe is the only wet bottom version I’ve seen!

How I Made It Vegan

This part was easy! Like many other shoofly cake recipes, this one was already mostly vegan. The recipe gave two options for the fat used in the cake–vegetable shortening or butter. I tried it with vegetable shortening, but the flavor was much better when I used vegan butter instead. Other than that, just make sure to use vegan brown sugar and you’ve got a vegan shoofly cake! The easiest way to find vegan brown sugar is just to buy organic brown sugar.

Other Changes I Made

First I halved the original recipe–partly because it was awkward to try to evenly blend the dry cake ingredients without having a very large mixing bowl, and partly because such a large cake was way too much for a small household.

The original recipe also called for part molasses and part King Syrup, a golden syrup made from corn syrup and other ingredients. My recipe uses only molasses. King Syrup was not created until 1901, and shoofly pies had been around for about 25 years before that. Call me a purist, but to my family it’s not shoofly anything unless molasses takes center stage!

The original recipe, like every other shoofly cake recipe I’ve seen, says to just use some of the blended dry cake ingredients as the crumb topping. Although this is quick and easy, I wasn’t happy with the taste of the crumbs because there was considerably more flour than brown sugar. It seemed bland. I also didn’t think there were enough crumbs. So I make the crumb topping separately, increasing the amount and using the same ratio of brown sugar, flour, and vegan butter that I use for the crumb topping in my shoofly pie recipe.

Since we are no longer using some of the cake layer as a topping, I also increased the water and pan size to compensate for the larger cake layer. I increased the baking soda by more than I needed to compensate, to get a fluffier cake texture. I’ve also clarified the instructions and changed the order of preparation so that you don’t have heated baking soda sitting around for too long before the cake goes into the oven.

Happy baking!

Vegan Shoofly Cake

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Vegan Shoofly Cake


    For the Topping
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (measured by lightly spooning into a measuring cup and leveling off with a knife)
  • 1/2 cup organic brown sugar (measured by packing into the measuring cup and leveling off with a knife)
  • 1 Tbsp. vegan margarine (I like Earth Balance)
  • For the Cake
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (measured by lightly spooning into a measuring cup and leveling off with a knife)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces) organic brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp. vegan margarine
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 and 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured baking molasses (like Golden Barrel Supreme Baking Molasses or Grandma's Robust)
  • For the Wet Bottom Layer
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured table molasses (like Grandma's Original)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Place 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1 Tbsp. vegan butter in a medium size mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers (using a crumbling motion) to blend until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. This will be your crumb topping. Set aside.
  3. Place 2 cups all-purpose flour, salt, 1/2 pound brown sugar, and 1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp. vegan butter in a large mixing bowl. Again, use a pastry cutter or your fingers to blend until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
  4. Stir the 3/4 tsp. baking soda into the 1 and 1/4 cup boiling water. The mixture will fizz, so add the baking soda in a few steps instead of all at once. This will prevent the mixture from bubbling over the sides of your container!
  5. Stir the baking molasses into the water/baking soda mixture.
  6. Add this liquid mixture to the dry cake ingredients in the large mixing bowl. Mix with a fork until it's pretty smooth. This will be your cake layer. Set aside.
  7. Stir the 1/2 tsp. baking soda into the 1/2 cup boiling water. Again, add the baking soda in parts, not all at once.
  8. Stir the table molasses into this water/baking soda mixture. This will be your wet bottom layer.
  9. Pour the wet bottom layer into a greased or non-stick 9-inch by 9-inch square baking pan.
  10. Slowly drizzle the cake layer onto the wet bottom layer in the pan. I pour in circular patterns starting small in the center of the pan and then moving out to the edges of the pan. Try to evenly cover the wet bottom layer.
  11. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly on top of the cake layer in the pan.
  12. Bake at 350F until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (except for some crumb topping), about 40 minutes. Start checking for doneness at 35 minutes just to be safe.