Thelonius Monster’s Sky-High Fly Pie: Shoo-fly pie


Thelonious Monster's Sky-High Fly Pie -


Thelonius Monster's Sky-High Fly Pie -

If you happen to be scared of creepy-crawlies, or easily grossed out, then this book may not be for you. On the other hand, if you have a child who gets excited about all things gross and gruesome, then they will love Thelonius Monster’s Sky-High Fly Pie by Judy Sierra. Since flies are so delicious, Thelonius Monster reasons, they must taste even better in a pie, and he embarks on a mission to make the best fly pie any monster has ever tasted. But after inviting all his “disgusting-est friends and relations” to taste his creation, things start to go wrong for Thelonius when his carefully collected flies escape. Can a fly pie taste just as good without the flies? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

The lilting rhyme of this story makes it sound almost like a nursery rhyme and it is chock-full of fantastic vocabulary words for young readers, such as “sensational” and “ravenous”. I completely identify with Thelonius when his best-laid plans don’t turn out quite as he imagined, and I think most kids will also be able to think of a time that they felt discouraged. It’s a great book for talking about failure and how to turn that around into a learning experience. I also like that Thelonius’s friends and family are a good model for how to treat others who are experiencing disappointment.


As for a recipe, I think Shoo-fly pie is the obvious choice to make with this book and contains some of the same ingredients Thelonius uses in his pie – minus the glue and flies! Traditional Shoo-fly pies that I’ve tasted, and seen recipes for, usually have a filling that is heavy on the molasses. While I like the rich, dark taste of molasses, I thought it might be a little much for kids, so I’ve made a Shoo-fly pie that is lighter and sweeter than is traditional. I replaced a lot of the molasses with brown sugar and dark corn syrup for a sweeter filling, but feel free to sub back in some of that molasses for a more traditional Shoo-fly pie.


Shoo-fly pie -

Shoo-Fly Pie



1 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

1/3 cup shortening

4 to 6 Tablespoons ice water


Molasses Filling:

½ cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup dark corn syrup

2 Tablespoons molasses

1 egg

1 ½ cups water

1 teaspoon vanilla


Crumb Layer:

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup dark brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ cup cold butter, cut into pieces

Whipped cream, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt for the crust with a wooden spoon. Cut in the shortening using a pastry cutter, fork, or fingers until coarse crumbs form. Gradually add the ice water, 2 Tablespoons at a time, mixing lightly with the wooden spoon between additions. Stop adding water when the dough just comes together well into a ball. Flour a large wooden board well and place the ball of pie dough onto the board. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thickness, lifting often to make sure the dough is not sticking and adding extra flour to the board, as needed. Once crust is about 12 inches in diameter, fold it into fourths and place into a 10 inch pie plate. Unfold the crust and crimp the edges around the pie plate.
  2. To prepare the molasses filling: In a small saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, dark corn syrup, molasses, egg and water. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and continue to simmer until it thickens slightly. Set aside to cool a little.
  3. To prepare crumb layer: In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut in the cold butter using a pastry cutter, fork, or fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. To assemble: Spread 1/3 of the crumb mixture in the bottom of the unbaked pie crust. Top with half of the thickened molasses mixture. Sprinkle another 1/3 of the crumb mixture over the molasses and then pour the remaining molasses mixture on top of that. Finish by sprinkling the last 1/3 of the crumb mixture evenly over the top of the pie. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until crust is golden on edges and filling is just set. Cool to room temperature and serve with softly whipped cream.