I happen to love cozy mysteries, especially when they revolve around food. Imagine my delight when I came across a series called the "Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries" by author Ellery Adams. What makes me like them even more is that they contain another little element that I love woven into my food and mystery stories—magic!
The first book in the series is called Pies and Prejudice, which is what caught my Austen-loving eye in the first place. Our main character and pie baker, Ella Mae flees New York City to go back home to Havenwood, Georgia, when she catches her husband cheating on her. Once reunited with her mom and aunts, her "LeFaye woman" magic makes itself known. Each woman has her own special enchantment, Ella Mae's being that she can bake her feelings...literally.
I loved the mystery, the characters, the setting, and the story itself, but the enchanted pies were the real stars of the book. Although the other LeFaye women realize it before she does, whatever Ella Mae is feeling at the moment she's preparing and baking the pies is infused into them. When she first returns home after discovering her husband cheating, she bakes a (fittingly) blueberry pie and the sadness hanging over her gets baked right inside.
As each woman settles in to eat a slice of her pie, an air of "heartache and regret" overtakes the formerly jovial mood, and each of them start remembering past loves. Ella Mae is bewildered when a blue tear slipping down her Aunt Dee's cheek actually makes her aunt smile and she wipes it and proclaims it not blue, but indigo, the shade of blueberries and heartache.
There was a bunch of pie inspiration in the book to choose from, but I chose to go with a pie that I hadn't tried before (but always wanted to). There are actually a few recipes included at the back of the book, one of them being a Shoofly Pie. I used that recipe as my base, and infused some of the magic from the book passage that it comes from, as well.
Turns out the pies lighted a fire under everybody who ate a slice, causing passions to flare all over town. How could I resist trying the rich, seductive pie that started that kind of commotion?
Watch for more FridayPieDay posts inspired by the Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries in the future (I'll be checking them out from the library one by one and baking something inspired by each)...because we could all use a little more magic in our days.
With a rich, sweet molasses filling that resembles custard and a crumble topping, flies aren't the only ones you'll be shooing away from this pie!
Prep Time: 10 minutes + 30 minutes in fridge (crust)
Cook Time: 38 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert vegetarian soy-free molasses spice pie American
Ingredients (1 (9-inch) Pie)
- 1 single 9-inch pie crust, homemade or storebought
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup golden syrup (see notes)
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup boiling water
Roll out the pie crust dough and fit it into a 9-inch glass pie plate; trim the edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Combine flour, sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Scoop out 1/2 cup and reserve.
Add molasses, golden syrup, egg, and baking soda to the bowl and process until smooth and combined, scraping down the sides as needed. With the processor on, pour in the boiling water until combined.
Remove the pie plate from the fridge and set on the prepared baking sheet. Pour the liquid filling into the crust (it will look like there's not enough, but don't worry, it puffs during baking). Scatter the reserved crumb mixture evenly over the top.
Slide the tray carefully into the hot oven and bake for 18 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F and bake for 20 minutes longer, or until the crust is golden and the edges of the pie are set, the center is still a bit wobbly, and the filling is puffed up.
Set pie on wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing. Good with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
I used half molasses and half golden syrup to try and replicate the flavor of King Syrup, which was used in the pie that Ella Mae made for Hugh in the book, Pies and Prejudice. Feel free to use 1 cup of King Syrup instead of the molasses and golden syrup, or 1 cup of either molasses or golden syrup instead of combining them. You could also add a little honey to the mix, but don't go over 1 cup total of whichever liquid sweetener you choose to use.
Cinnamon and cloves aren't a traditional addition to Shoofly Pie, but again, I wanted to use them since the book did. I think they added a nice hint of magic to the pie, but feel free to omit them.
My friend Stacy from Food Lust People Love is joining me again this month and she's made a Staffordshire Yeomanry Pudding (it's got two crusts and is baked with jam and custard filling inside - sounds pretty enchanting, wouldn't you say?).
Join me on the last Friday of each month for pie and crust recipes, techniques, tools of the trade, and other inspiration. For more information and recipes, please check out my #FRIDAYPIEDAY page!