Vanilla Pie: Shoofly Pie “Light”
Michelle’s vegan vanilla pie
Amish vanilla pie, sometimes just called vanilla pie, is considered by some folks to be a “lighter” variation of Pennsylvania Dutch shoofly pie. A dark, sweet, gooey filling is topped with crumbs that are made nice and fluffy with a rising agent.
All these recipes are pretty similar, with the biggest difference being whether they call for brown sugar or white sugar in the crumbs and filling. I prefer white sugar because it lets the vanilla flavor really come through. I also use equal parts sugar and flour for the crumbs, so that they’re more like sugar crumbs and get nice and golden during baking.
Most recipes for the filling call for molasses, although some call for dark corn syrup or King Syrup. My thoughts were that even table molasses can be too strong for non-Pennsylvania Dutch people when it’s concentrated like this, while corn syrup adds sweetness but not much flavor. To keep the pie light to go with the lovely fluffy crumbs, I substituted Grade B maple syrup for most of the molasses, resulting in a dark golden, flavorful filling. I left a little molasses for extra depth of flavor. This filling tastes a bit like a good pecan pie, but without the pecans!
Making Vegan Vanilla Pie
This part was easy–I replaced the egg in the filling with cornstarch to mimic the binding action. I replaced the butter in the crumbs with vegan margarine (vegetable shortening results in a bland taste). Finally, I used organic sugar, which is processed without use of animal bone char. Most organic sugars are raw and have coarse granules, and I think that’s a good thing here for the crumb texture. If you find organic white sugar with the fine texture of table sugar, scoop it up because it’s not too common–but don’t use it in this recipe!
For the Filling
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- 1/2 cup organic sugar
- 1 Tbsp. table/light molasses (like Grandma's Original)
- 1/4 cup and 3 Tbsp. Grade B maple syrup
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 tsp. vanilla
For the Crumbs
- 3/4 cup flour
- 3/4 cup organic sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/4 cup melted vegan margarine
For the Crust
- 1 9-inch unbaked vegan pie crust (for an easy option, Whole Foods has these great vegan pie shells in the frozen section)
- Stir the first 5 ingredients for the filling together in a small 1-quart saucepan until evenly mixed. Carefully add 1 cup of hot water and stir until combined.
- Cook on medium heat for 6 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture should reach a boil for the last minute or so of cooking, and it should reach a full rolling boil for the last 30-40 seconds or so. By the end it will be thicker and darker, like the color of chocolate syrup.
- Remove from the heat and give it a few stirs until it stops bubbling. Then stir in 1 tsp. vanilla. Set aside to cool and thicken for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.
- Combine the first three ingredients for the crumbs in a medium mixing bowl. Stir to mix.
- Add 1 tsp. vanilla and the melted margarine. Use a pastry cutter or rub the mix between your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
- Pour the filling into the pie crust.
- Sprinkle the crumbs evenly on top of the filling.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 375F. Then reduce heat to 350F and bake for 35 more minutes until crumbs are light golden in color and the center does not shake when you jiggle the pie.
- Put the pie back in the oven, turn off the heat, and crack the door open (if the door won't stay cracked, you can put a wooden spoon in it). This will keep the pie from developing cracks on the surface.
- Allow pie to cool to room temperature before serving, so that the filling sets. No leaky, weepy pies please! 🙂
Prep time: 20 minutes. Rest time before baking: 30 minutes.
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