People who visit Bird-in-Hand often say their fondest memories include Pennsylvania Dutch food like ham balls, chicken corn soup, Amish potato salad, and especially the baked goods that are unique to this region: shoofly pie, whoopie pies, apple fritters, and more. In this post, we’re going to tell you how to get a taste of Amish Country and where to find Pennsylvania Dutch baked goods and other Lancaster souvenirs online.
WHAT IS SHOOFLY PIE?
If there is a classic Pennsylvania Dutch treat, shoofly pie might just be it. You may hear different stories about its history and how it got its unusual name. It probably dates back at least to the 1800s, and it may have gotten its name from a brand of molasses. What we do know is that this treat has been a favorite of Amish and Mennonite cooks for generations. It may originally have been served as a breakfast cake, and we still recommend starting the day with a cup of coffee and a slice of shoofly pie, but you can enjoy it any time of day.
There are two types of shoofly pie: dry bottom, which is like a soft gingerbread, and wet bottom, which is the type that’s most popular in Lancaster County. It’s similar to the texture of pecan pie, without the nuts. Both are usually made with molasses, eggs, brown sugar, and cinnamon. At Bird-in-Hand Bakery & Cafe, we make our traditional Amish-style wet-bottom shoofly pie according to Grandma Smucker’s recipe, which substitutes a light syrup for molasses, for a sweet pie without any bitterness. “I think that’s a large part of the popularity of our pie – that, and our flaky crust,” says Owner John Smucker.
WILD ABOUT WHOOPIE PIES
A Lancaster County original, whoopie pies originally were a way to use leftover cake batter and got their name from the cry of delight when children found them in their lunch bags. By the 1920s, these Amish treats had made their way up to New England, and in Western Pennsylvania, they’re known as “gobs”—perhaps for the “gobs” of sweet in between the two cookie-like pieces of chocolate cake.
We make our jumbo whoopie pies with large layers of home-baked cake and use an extra-smooth and creamy filling. The original whoopie pies were chocolate with vanilla filling, and they remain popular favorites, but our creative bakers also make chocolate with peanut butter filling, red velvet with buttercream filling, and pumpkin with vanilla filling as well as other seasonal flavors.
Whether you enjoy them as a snack or dessert, they go great with a cold glass of milk.
MORE AMISH TREATS
Early Amish and Mennonite settlers may have brought apple fritters with them when they came to Pennsylvania from Europe. Recipes for this deliciously fruity deep-fried dough treats date back at least to the Middle Ages. The “Pennsylvania Dutch” settlers are definitely credited with bringing sticky buns, or schnecken, to America. Served warm or eaten right out of the box, these cinnamon-y treats (with or without raisins or nuts) are sure to please.
ONLINE STORE / SHIPPING / FREEZING
Whether you want a taste of Lancaster County for yourself or you’re looking for Amish gifts, you can find your favorite breakfast treats, desserts and more (and our house-blend coffee to go with them) in our online bakery store. We’ll ship throughout the United States, using 2nd Day Air for any location beyond the East Coast to retain freshness. Our baked goods freeze well, and we suggest that you freeze them if you are not going to consume them within a day or two. Our online store also offers books, gift baskets, gift cards, and other Lancaster County souvenirs, so “stop by” soon!