desserts

miss american [flag] pie.

July 8, 2015

miss american [flag] pie.

This pie, you guys. This pie was completely last-minute, and a perfect example of how I will do whatever it takes to complicate a holiday. This pie was unnecessary: we had desserts. Giant dark chocolate-walnut brownies (on the blog soon), pillowy chocolate chip cookies, from-scratch fudge sauce, and 5 pints of homemade Jeni’s vanilla bean ice cream – 5 pints! We were golden. We were set.

But then I wanted pie, and I wanted it badly. Enough to lie and say I needed to make this for this blog. For science. For the world.

And so this happened, because it was basically my only chance to make it and see if it actually worked. Surprisingly (and I’m being straight with you here), it wasn’t the giant production I thought it would be, mostly due to some really spectacular tips courtesy of King Arthur Flour’s blog, Flourish – aka the place I had originally come across this pie. Thanks, KAF.

miss american [flag] pie.

Since this was never meant to be a post, I didn’t take step-by-step photos: I’m going to attempt more pies using some of these techniques, however, and when I do, I promise to include more visuals. For now, I’ll describe what went into it and include some tips on how to get this thing right.

First, a breakdown of what’s going on here:

miss american pie, components: star + stripe cutouts, a deep crust, and a 3-to-1 ratio of strawberry filling to blueberry filling.

miss american pie components: star + stripe cutouts, a deep crust, and a 3-to-1 ratio of strawberry filling to blueberry filling.

So really you’ve got yourself a nice variety of stripes cut from the dough, a few stars to scatter, and a deep-ish pan for your pie: it’s a lot of filling, but not crazy, so build your pie in a deep dish, or make sure you use your bottom crust to full height advantage so nothing bubbles over the top. What you’ll need:

miss american pie needs: a substantial pie pan, a double crust, pizza cutter, star cutter, lots of fruit, and basic pie filling ingredients.

miss american pie needs: a substantial pie pan, a double crust, pizza cutter, star cutter, lots of fruit, and basic pie filling ingredients. We’re talking super basic, like cornstarch, brown sugar, white sugar, salt, and a lemon or two.

So what you see here is your basic pie situation: a double crust, preferably divided into 1/3 and 2/3 recipes (bigger for the bottom), a pizza cutter (use a sharp, thin knife if you prefer), a star-shaped cookie cutter, many berries, and standard pie filling ingredients like sugars, cornstarch, a wee bit of kosher salt, and a big lemon (or two small ones). What I forgot in the photo? The “pie dam” you’ll make from aluminum foil, but since I’m lazy, we’ll just talk about it. Take a length of foil, say a foot long, and fold it down until you have a fairly sturdy 3-inch high rectangle. Fold that in the middle, then place it into your pan: customize that foil by folding the ends to create a 90-degree Wall of China inside your empty pie crust. See the Flourish post here if that description didn’t bring it to life enough for you.

You’re well on your way to a stunning American pie. Now let’s do this.

American Pie: Do’s and Dont’s

DO: Prebake those top-crust decorations separately from the pie: KAF wants you to do it at the same time, but if i’m making this much effort to visually perfect a pie, i’m baking things off one at a time. Put your pie together while the top crust bakes off.

DON’T: Be a hero by throwing the raw crust over top all pretty and design-y and expect for it to look like this one; it won’t. Because fruit bubbles, and crust sinks, and it’s very possible that your finished flag pie will look like a total mess. I know mine would if I didn’t take the time to bake those decorations separately.

DO: Give that pie proper time to cool: I hate a pie that gushes out all over because it ruins the effect. This isn’t a cobbler, so bake it and cool it for long enough so that it’s at room temp when you slice it. Also, wait until your baked pie has calmed down a little before you decorate it: it can be warm, but it should look like it’s starting to set up.

DON’T: waste that extra dough! It’s lame to do that. when you finish cutting your decorations from the top crust, roll it back out and make a few more stars or something, throw them on the sheet pan, and bake them right along with everything else. When you slice up your pie, throw a star onto the top of each piece: the crowd will love it.

DO: Plan those stars and stripes. Be smart and really think about it so that everything comes together how you want it to. What’s going to really make this is lining up that main horizontal middle stripe right where the blueberry meats the strawberry : start at that point and work outward.

miss american [flag] pie.

a glimpse of my Independence Day celebration; more to come in a post about brownies.

As for the recipes themselves, it was me sort of putting a few recipes together. the KAF recipe was wonderful, I’m sure, but it kept calling for a “pie enhancer” – a pre made mixture they sell online. Having none, I researched a little bit and settled on Joy the Baker’s recipe for strawberry pie (for the strawberry portion, at least) as a guideline. The blueberry portion was loosely based on what I did with the strawberries, and I used roll-and-bake pie crusts versus homemade, which wasn’t an option considering this whole 11th hour idea. Those work in a pinch, for sure, but use homemade pie crusts if you can: you’d at least be able to section the dough into 1/3 + 2/3 sections as KAF suggests. Use my recipe as a guideline, please: I really didn’t take notes, and pie shouldn’t be stressful, so use this recipe, use one you like better, pick your own crust, do what you want here: I’m just helping you through the technique. From a flavor perspective, this was a solid pie: I don’t want to undersell that at all b/c it was lovely in the very traditional, straightforward way that blueberry and strawberry pie, in my humble opinion, were meant to be. If you like something more sassy, you do your thing.

Pie design adapted from this post on Flourish, the King Arthur Flour blog, with Joy the Baker’s beautiful recipe for Strawberry Lattice Pie used as the guideline for my fruit fillings.

Miss American [Flag] Pie

Serves 8, but do everyone a favor and throw some homemade vanilla ice cream on it. Then it really serves 8.

for the crust

  • 1 recipe your favorite double pie crust (if you don’t have one, this one is a solid pick), divided into 2/3 and 1/3 recipe portions*
  • granulated or sanding sugar, for sprinkling

for the blueberry filling:

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

for the strawberry filling:

  • 6 cups fresh strawberries, sliced (that’s net, measure after you hull and slice)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • a few fat pinches kosher salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter, for dotting

*you can totally do this with store-bought crusts. They don’t come in anything but half and half, obviously, but use one crust for the bottom and one crust for the top cutouts. Re-roll extra from cutouts and add it to the top of your bottom crust to give it a little extra height. 

I’m going to give you instructions, but Flourish’s post is incredible in terms of step by step instructions. If you want more support or are a first-time pie maker, head over there for more details.

Not that this is an abbreviated post in any way: don’t take length to mean difficulty, however. It’s not hard: I just enjoy an explanation.

Ready your crust:

And by this I mean that you should have your crust chilled, divided, and ready to go. Roll out the larger of your two doughs into a 13-inch circle and place it inside your 9-inch (or 9.5-inch, as mine was) pan. Beautify your edges how you wish, keeping them high to hold in the filling. If you’re a pre-bake type of person, you go for it, but only until the crust is dry. If you’re not, that’s cool: I didn’t pre bake my crust for this either.

Fun Part #1:

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Draw a circle the diameter of your pie pan on a piece of parchment. Roll out the smaller dough to 1/8″ thickness and fit it inside the circle. Using a thin, sharp knife, cut out the dough in the shape of your circle. Think about how you want to want your stripes and stars to look, then begin your cutting. Using the pizza cutter (or a thin, sharp knife again), cut the middle stripe – you know, the one that will be directly below where the stars begin, and which will run horizontally across your pie. Work out from there, remembering that every other stripe you cut won’t be used (because that will be where the strawberry shows through.) Now do the stars: cut out lots of those, re-rolling the dough to make more. You may want to overlap these as I did, and they’re nice to have on hand as plate decoration when you serve this.

Transfer stars and stripes to the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar to give it a little sparkle when it’s done. Bake until golden – you’re wanting these to be approximately the same color as your finished pie will be – about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on thickness, and also depending on shape. If some things begin to get done ahead of time, pull them off the sheet and onto a cooling rack. Keep that oven at 425˚F.

Mix your fillings:

In a medium bowl, add blueberries, both sugars, cornstarch, salt, and lemon juice; toss to coat. In a large bowl, add strawberries, both sugars, cornstarch, salt, and lemon juice; toss to coat (gently this time, as strawberries are more sensitive and juicy than blueberries.) Set both bowls aside.

Fun Part #2:

Time for the pie dam! Take a section of aluminum foil, approximately 12″ in length: fold it in half and in half again, until you have a sturdy rectangular length of foil 3″ or so high. Fold it in half to form a V-shape; fit that inside your pie pan and fold the ends until it forms a 90-degree triangle which takes up 1/4 of your total area. The better way to say that is that it should be the space for the blueberries/stars.

Give the blueberries one more stir, then pour them into the smaller side of the foil dam, holding the dam steady as you pour so it doesn’t scoot around. Give the strawberries a stir and then pour those into the pie crust, using a large spoon or spatula to spread the berries against the foil dam on both sides. Remove that foil dam; admire your work. YOU TOTALLY DID THAT!

Bake on the lower-middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375˚F and continue baking until pie is all bubbly and happy, another 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack; cool that pie until it’s warm or lukewarm and has settled into itself a little.

Fun Part #3: 

Grab those stripes and stars, find that parchment circle you drew, and lay out your design on the parchment to make sure it’s the way you want it. Begin with that middle stripe I had you cut out first and work outward with your decorations, setting them on top of the pie, trimming edges as needed. Finish with stars.

Allow to cool to room temperature (because easier to cut) and serve to your super-impressed guests.

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25 Comments

  • Reply Deb|EastofEdenCooking July 8, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    I must say that All-American pie is very beautiful and pairs wonderfully with a side of brownies and chocolate chip cookies! (I over dessert the holidays too! No one ever complains tho. I end up giving the extra away or it does get tossed.)

    • Reply shannon July 28, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      Thanks, Deb! Paired a little *too* well, honestly. 🙂 No one complained until we got on the scale, though.

  • Reply Emma July 8, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Sweet! What a gorgeous looking pie!

    Who are those crazies who would waste extra dough? They should have the power of the pie dam taken away from them immediately…. glad you had such an incredible spread of sweets for the holiday!

    • Reply shannon July 28, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      Thanks! This was a big hit, i have to say: i should last-minute-pie more often, clearly. Hope you had a wonderful 4th, Emma! May you never waste your pie dough (although i know you wouldn’t dare).

  • Reply Carol Anne @ Rock Salt July 9, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Swoon!

    This is an absolute stunner. Really well done, and thanks so much for the ideas and inspiration!

    • Reply shannon July 28, 2015 at 11:59 am

      Thank you so much, Carol Anne! Coming from my pie partner in crime, i take that as a high compliment. 🙂

  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs July 9, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    That “pie dam” idea is fun! One of those techniques I’ve read about, but completely forgotten. Really fun pie, and looks great Thanks!

    • Reply shannon July 28, 2015 at 11:58 am

      Thanks, John! The pie dam was new to me, but i can see how practical it may be to use for future pie making.

  • Reply Brianne July 10, 2015 at 7:26 am

    There were so many flag pies on Instagram last weekend! I felt inadequate as a pie lady. Desserts for me last weekend were s’mores and strawberry daiquiris, but a flag pie is definitely in my future!! Especially with one of your wonderful walkthroughs. I love the graphics!

    • Reply shannon July 28, 2015 at 11:57 am

      I knoooowwww! So many, but i suppose summer holiday + summer fruit = fanciful pies, right? But i’d take s’mores and strawberry daiquiris for the holiday, no question. That sounds amazing!

  • Reply elizabeth July 12, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    This is so gorgeous–I can’t believe you could bring yourself to slice into it! (I know I’d have some anxiety about doing it myself.) Your holiday pies always have a sense of epic-ness to them, and this one does well to continue that tradition.

    • Reply shannon July 28, 2015 at 11:56 am

      It was a tough job, the slicing part, but someone had to do it, because pie-eating. Thankfully, one of the benefits to having the pop-on, separately-baked top crust was that you could sort of pop it off as you sliced it? making for an easier job.

      Thank you, Elizabeth: that you think my pies have an epicness to them makes me smile BIG. I feel like i have something to aim for in the future. 😉

  • Reply Abbe @ This is How I Cook July 15, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    You are just a genius! And an artist! And does everyone get two slices of this pie so they can have both blueberry and strawberry? The possibilities are endless and I can’t wait to try this! I wish I had been with you for the 4th!

    • Reply shannon July 28, 2015 at 11:54 am

      I’ll tell you what we did: we gave tiny blueberry pieces to people who wanted them, along with a full size strawberry piece, so no one could QUITE admit to eating two whole pieces of pie.

      But we totally ate two whole pieces of pie.

  • Reply Monica July 15, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Don’t you just love a spur-of-the-moment, inspired bake, especially when it turns out this good?! And you can never have too many desserts! It looks fantastic and very impressive. I’m sure it was hard to slice into it to eat but hopefully you managed. : )

    • Reply shannon July 28, 2015 at 11:49 am

      YES! and sometimes those really ARE the ones that turn out the best in my house b/c i don’t have time to overthink (and kill) it. 🙂 Thank you so much! We managed to eat it all and slice it and it was rough, YOU KNOW, but we struggled through. until it was gone basically the next day because you do what you gotta do. 😉

  • Reply Ashley July 20, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    I kinda swooned when I saw your Instagram pic of the pie….but now I’m just a mess of jelly on the floor. This is awesome and inspired and so dang clear on the instructions. I’m highly tempted to make a pie asap (though I have to pawn off most of it on my dad, as my husband doesn’t like fruit and my mom doesn’t eat crust…meaning my dad and I are the dessert garbage bins in our houses. I clearly learned from the best.).

    • Reply shannon July 28, 2015 at 11:48 am

      EEEEEEE but it’s so easy! My goal was clear directions, so i’m happy you think i succeeded in that: the KAF directions were very detailed, but SO detailed that it was very easy to get lost in them, if that makes sense? Definitely a good reference. UGH NO are you also cursed with a husband who doesn’t like fruit LIKE MY OWN HUSBAND?!?! Rather, he likes apple pie (and i just made a pear cobbler he loves) but any other fruit in desserts and he’s like “ehhhhhh” about it. SO WEIRD. And how does a person NOT eat crust? SMH…i can’t. clearly i’m Team You and your dad. 🙂

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats July 22, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Shannon, this pie is soooo cool!!! I love your abstract stars in comparison to the KAF pie. It’s also kinda nice that this gives 2 flavor options in case all your guests don’t like the same type. Think i’ll have to try this next year…hopefully i’ll remember. And as always, love your graphics 😉

    • Reply shannon July 28, 2015 at 11:45 am

      thaaaaaaanks, Amy! Agree: my mom actually hates blueberry pie (for gross reasons i won’t get into) so it was definitely beneficial to have two flavor options, and they really do stay in their own spaces even while cooking, which i was surprised by. Do try it! It was fun and not at all time-consuming…a relatively easy project that everyone thinks you worked harder on than you did (so, my favorite kind.) 😉

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats July 28, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    i cannot get over this pie – and i can’t wait for next year so i can make it. or maybe i can make it for labor day? or flag day? when is flag day?

    also, your charts are always my favorite thing ever. goal for 2015 – MORE CHARTS!

    • Reply shannon July 28, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      so instead of hitting reply, i stupid-commented like i’m an idiot. BECAUSE I DON’T EVEN KNOW MY OWN WEBSITE YET.

      please see below. 🙂

  • Reply shannon July 28, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    2016 will be The Year of The Chart, i feel. They take me SO LONG sometimes but i don’t care because i could sit and work on those things FOR AGES.

    oooo labor day or flag day would be perfect for this! I don’t know when flag day is, but labor day is just around the corner, and always seems to be one of the “patriotic triumvirate” of holidays.

    now i’m going to have to look up when flag day is.

  • Reply Wendy July 29, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Only you, Shannon, could make a last-minute pie this elaborately gorgeous and have it come out this elaborately gorgeous….more gorgeous than the original! I would love to try this. Good thing I have a whole year to plan and study your charts!

  • Reply Jennie @onesweetmess August 20, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    When you think about it, ice cream kinda screams for pie in the summer, right? With 5 pints of ice cream, that’s a whole lot of screamin’. Girl, I wish I had your graph skills, because they are off the charts (pun totally intended)! This pie is stunning. I’d say it was worth the complication.

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